Labor listens to call to upskill preschool educators
Childcare centres would have a wider range of experts at hand under a NSW Labor plan to put 500 early childhood workers on university or diploma scholarships.
Opposition Leader Chris Minns rolled playdough with preschool kids on Tuesday before promising building blocks for their educators' own futures.
The $22 million package would provide 500 scholarships over three years of up to $25,000 for bachelor degrees or diplomas, to fund paid professional development leave and to launch a new study into childhood delivery models.
Mr Minns says it's a response to the pressure inside the sector to upskill.
"We know that in NSW early childhood education centres, those with diplomas or a degree is about 45 per cent - in Victoria, it's above 60 per cent," he told reporters in Condell Park, in Sydney's southwest.
"We've been speaking to the peak bodies and they regard this as an essential investment in early childhood education."
He acknowledged pay and conditions of workers were a major issue in addressing retention but emphasised the need to look at all options.
Each dollar invested in early education provided $2 of benefit to the state's economy, reducing crime and welfare rates and enhancing educational outcomes, he said.
The announcement was made in the electorate of Liberal-held East Hills - the state's most marginal electorate after Mr Minns' own seat of Kogarah.
While failing to win there would be virtually terminal to Labor's chances of winning government on March 25, Mr Minns wouldn't say he was confident about candidate Kylie Wilkinson claiming victory.
"I'm very happy 10 days out that we're giving a good account of ourselves ... and I know we've got a wonderful candidate who'd be an exceptional member of parliament if the voters of East Hills get behind her," he said.
Mr Minns also took to the streets of Engadine in southern Sydney to meet small business owners with three-time candidate Maryanne Stuart.
Ms Stuart has faced off against deputy government whip Lee Evans at every election since 2015 but her task has been made easier this time around by a redistribution that flipped the seat notionally Labor.
Ross Maiorana, who's run Knockout Shoes for 45 years, said rising interest rates and electricity bills had made everything "a little bit tough" recently.
"But we're getting there," he said.
"It makes me proud to be seeing second, third or fourth generations coming through the door."