Early years recruitment and retention crisis

30 Oct

By Voice General Secretary Deborah Lawson

The roll-out of the 30 hours of free childcare offer in England requires expansion to, and cooperation from, the sector. According to research undertaken during the summer, and featured in Nursery World today, the required expansion is facing another risk in addition to the problems caused by the low level of funding – a recruitment and retention crisis.

Ceeda, an independent research company specialising in the early years sector, found that almost 50% of all private, voluntary and independent providers had staff vacancies. Although most of the vacancies were for staff with Level 3 qualifications, there were also a significant number of vacancies at entry level, through the apprenticeship route.

The situation is, in part, a legacy of the Government’s 2014 decision to require and accept only academic qualifications for those entering or progressing to Level 3 childcare qualifications.

Voice supports quality and qualification standards for the profession, and campaigned for such, but over-reliance on academic qualifi cations failed to
consider how to retain the wealth of experience, talent and potential within the workforce, especially those who can ably demonstrate they have the
equivalent functional skills.

We flagged the issue as a barrier – not only to progression within the profession, but also to initial entry to it – warning of a recruitment and retention crisis equal to that experienced in teaching.

In the Early Years Workforce Strategy published earlier this year, the Government makes many commitments, not least that publication of the strategy is not the end of the journey. I have raised these issues with Robert Goodwill MP, Minister of State for Children and Families, as well as seeking an update on qualified teacher status (QTS) for early years teachers and discussed the gender imbalance within the profession.

Further information

Voice’s 2015 workforce survey.


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