Pre-Budget 2021 boost: Hopes early learning teachers' pay boost will pep up dwindling workforce

The union representing early childhood teachers hopes today's education pre-budget funding announcement will pep up a dwindling workforce.

Education Minister Chris Hipkins committed $170 million to deliver pay parity for early childhood teachers. 

"It is wrong that we've got this big inequality between different ECE teachers just purely based on which centres they work in," Hipkins said. 

Recent data revealed teachers in early childhood centres take home around $16,000 less than at kindergartens. 

NZEI early childhood representative Virginia Oakley said the fight for pay parity has been going on for "so many years," but warns there is still a long way to go. 

The Early Childhood Council has also welcomed steps towards teacher pay parity... but members said they are disappointed the rising costs of operating ECE centres have been ignored as today's funding announcement will only go towards paying salaries. 

The first step of the funding will see the lowest paid salaries increase by almost $1500 from July. 

And from 2022, centres can get extra government funding for salaries...if they promise to match the lower pay scales kindergarten teachers are on.

The announcement comes as welcome news for ECE teacher Hannah Pilcher who said her pay does not reflect her job. 

The 23-year-old said she loves her job but that Wellington rent stretches her payslip to the brink. 

"Having you know a salary job and still struggling to make ends meet is pretty disheartening and really tough." 

"I've studied with other people who now work in Kindergarten and I'm not getting the same pay," she said. 

This comes less than a day after the Australian government announced an AU$1.6 billion education boost for preschools.