Scotland begins recruitment drive

Monday, October 30, 2017

The Scottish government has launched a campaign to recruit 11,000 childcarers ahead of the introduction of the 30 hours.

The recruitment drive is initially focusing on 16- to 18-year-olds to encourage more school-leavers into the profession, and highlights different routes, including apprenticeships and college courses.

A new website – http://childcarecareersscotland.scot – has also been set up.

The ‘Shape their world. Shape your career’ campaign includes a short film on YouTube, which will also run as an advert in cinemas. It was designed following research with current childcare workers and young people and aims to show childcare as an inspiring, worthwhile and rewarding career.

Visiting Towerview Nursery in Glasgow to meet childcare practitioners and senior pupils considering a career in the profession, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, ‘Our expansion of funded nursery education and childcare will be truly transformational and we need a strong workforce to achieve this.

‘Working in this profession is hugely rewarding as it makes a real difference to children’s lives, developing their skills and preparing them for school.

‘As part of our efforts to increase the availability of nursery education and childcare, we also want to improve the quality of education and care with more professional development opportunities.

‘We want more people to consider a career in nursery education and childcare and this campaign will highlight the range of jobs and opportunities available.’

The campaign features Connor Laurie, an apprentice at the Butterfly Nursery in Glasgow, who was initially going to pursue a career in sports coaching for children. ‘Once I’ve finished my apprenticeship, I’m hoping to go on to work through my SVQ qualifications and get as much experience as possible,’ he says. ‘I want to try lots of different things through my career in ELC, and maybe run my own nursery one day. All I know is I want to work with kids and don’t want to move away from that.’

Pay campaign

Voice Scotland, which represents early years and childcare professionals, is calling on the Scottish government to introduce a national pay and conditions framework and career structure for early years and childcare professionals, highlighting that a national pay scale was recommended as part of the independent review of the early learning and out-of-school care workforce.

Senior professional officer Dougie Atkinson said, ‘Early years professionals’ salaries do not reflect their skills and responsibilities and the demands of their work.

‘Implementing a national pay and conditions framework would help to improve the perception of careers within early years and make it more attractive to a wider range of potential candidates, including attracting more men to take up a career in the sector.

‘It would also help to introduce consistency in terms of quality .of delivery and accountability.

‘There is an eyewatering disparity in staff pay between public and private sector provision. Such a disparity is not sustainable if we want all children to enjoy a quality pre-school experience, rather than a postcode-lottery system.

‘There is currently little or no incentive to invest, financially or emotionally, in qualifications for a wage readily available in other low-paid jobs which, unlike early learning and childcare, are low-skilled and low-responsibility.’

Funded hours

Earlier this month, the First Minister announced that spending on childcare would double from the current £420m a year to £840m by 2021-22, reaffirming a pledge to increase the current entitlement from 600 hours a year to 1,140 hours – around 30 hours a week – of free early learning and childcare (ELC) from August 2020.

While the investment has been welcomed by the sector, as in England, many providers remain concerned about funding.

Jean Carwood-Edwards, CEO of Early Years Scotland, said the ‘unprecedented expansion of ELC’ would ‘help transform the lives of young children and families in Scotland’.

But she added that the organisation’s members and ELC providers had ‘valid concerns in general around resourcing and capacity issues. Our member settings have also highlighted their concerns around ensuring that they are appropriately funded to support this expansion, ensuring that they are sustainable and therefore able to offer a greater level of choice and flexibility for parents.

‘This increase in funded hours within high-quality ELC settings, will help give children across Scotland the very best start in life, and result in more and better support and resources for young children and their families.

‘It is also wonderful that this announcement comes so soon after the recently launched Scottish Baby Box, where the First Minister welcomed this initiative in one of our member settings in Butterfly Nursery in Glasgow. All of this clearly underlines a national commitment to helping young children and families across Scotland.’

National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) Scotland welcomed the principle of doubling the investment in childcare in order to double the free entitlement.

Chief executive Purnima Tanuku said, ‘However, until we see more details about the hourly rate to providers, we won’t know if nurseries will be able to deliver this pledge sustainably.
‘Will this increase in investment translate into a meaningful, sufficient rate for nurseries and other providers?

‘For this promise to be delivered successfully, the sector needs to be consulted every step of the way and all types of provider fully on board to give parents true choice.’

She added that the sector would like to be able to fulfil the Scottish government’s ambition to pay staff the Scottish Living Wage, but this was not possible on current funding rates.

See ‘Workforce Strategy, part 3: Careers'.

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