No industry is impervious to change. And the childcare industry is no different. Keeping a finger on the industry pulse allows childcare centres to plan ahead and prepare for change in a better fashion. Here, we take a look at some trends that stand to positively impact the Australian childcare industry.
The rules around government financial assistance for childcare are set to change in 2018. A number of government measures in the recent past have seen more families benefit from childcare subsidies. The upside now is that demand for childcare is expected to rise still further as the government widens the subsidy base to encompass all income classes.
From July 2018, as per the recommendations of the Productivity Commission, the new Child Care Subsidy will replace the Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate with a single, means-tested payment. Families using an approved child care service will need to meet a three-step activity test, which allow for up to 100 hours of subsidy per fortnight depending on the work, training, study or other recognised activity undertaken.
What this will do is make child care affordable to families from the lower income groups, generating a demand for more services.
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Another favourable factor working in the industry’s favour is population growth. Drivers include an expected baby boom and immigration.
Australia’s birth rate is expected to rise by 6.4% by 2019-20. This potentially translates into a revenues rise by a massive 34.8% to $12 billion, spelling good news for the childcare sector overall. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), accelerated growth rates are expected for the under-14 age group rising to 5.3 million in 2024.
Australia is a nation of migrants and the population is expected to grow further fuelled by overseas immigration and encouraging government regulations. ABS projects the population will keep rising by a million every two or three years helping maintain a healthy annual population growth rate.
Maternal Participation Rates In The Workforce
Female employment participation is fairly high in Australia, with around 64% of women aged 20 to 74 working or looking for work. But thanks to a raft of factors such as subsidies, maternal participation in employment is seeing a rising trend. Government reform packages have also allowed more single mothers to access more affordable and flexible child care options than ever before.
The availability, diversity and affordability of child care options is supporting this increased participation. Childcare centres have also diversified offering additional fee-based options, such as ballet, soccer, etc., giving families more time to accommodate their busy schedules.
Much like any other industry, child care hasn’t been left untouched by the technology wave. Keeping pace with the digital age is important as old-school ways of operating just don’t produce the efficiencies needed to stay competitive. Home-grown tech companies are developing software solutions exclusively for the child care industry, catering to automated sign-ins, parent communications, attendance, and payroll processing, to name a few.
Keeping an eye on the regulatory environment as well as on the social, economic and technology forces can help your centre to sift challenges from opportunity and plan ahead for the future.
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