EXCLUSIVE: Early years workforce 'will get less well qualified'

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The current workforce is facing a ‘ticking timebomb’ of staff shortages combined with falling qualifications levels and an increasing reliance on unpaid staff, the Education Policy Institute has found.

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In a set of exclusive predictions for Nursery Management, the EPI finds that in 2023, four-fifths of staff will not be working towards a higher qualification level.

These projections are based on current workforce trends and form part of an analysis of the early years workforce in its past, present and future forms.

Author Sara Bonetti, associate director of early years at the EPI, says ‘21 per cent of staff qualified at Level 6 or higher are aged 50 years-plus and will be approaching retirement within the next ten to 15 years.

'If trends continue, by 2023, 80 per cent of group-based staff will not be working towards a higher qualification level. Matching this with data on the decreasing number of Level 3 staff since the (temporary) introduction of GCSE English and maths requirements, it is not surprising that providers are experiencing difficulties hiring Level 3 staff.’

Also, the number of unpaid staff will rise to over 13 per cent of the total workforce from 11 per cent in 2016, she predicted.

Steven McIntosh, Director of UK Poverty Policy, Advocacy and Campaigns for Save the Children said, The analysis shows that the childcare workforce is facing a ticking timebomb: without government investment we risk facing a severely depleted workforce, a decline in staff qualifications, and an even bigger shortage of graduate early years teachers.

'This comes at a time when the government have recently gone back on a commitment to grow the graduate workforce. Highly-qualified staff are key to raising childcare quality and giving children the best start to life- the government must act now, or we risk leaving a generation of children behind.’

The Government has said it is investing a record amount in childcare, with £6bn spent each year by 2020, while the Social Mobility Action Plan announced a new fund of £20m to support quality improvement in pre-reception nursery settings focusing on professional development activity to support children’s early language and numeracy development.

This edition of Nursery Management, out now with the latest edition of Nursery World, has a workforce theme, exploring:

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