The early years data company's event saw delegates sharing ideas for recruiting a diverse workforce, training and career progression, and building sector capacity and infrastructure.
Suggestions for improving recruitment and retention included:
- Identifying and communicating the unique benefits of working in the sector
- Starting early by working with schools and developing work placements
- Building relationships with mutually beneficial partners such as teachers, workforce returners, school pupils, entrepreneurs, training providers and careers advisors
- Targeting recruitment tactics by finding out from staff what attracted them to the role and what they value about their work
- Using volunteering, stay-and-play and community-focused events to draw people in and create awareness of employment opportunities
- Embedding CPD as a long-term investment
- Highlighting transferrable skills and opportunities rather than fearing exit to other sectors
- Embedding health and well-being principles in everyday practice
- Bringing the early years career progression map to life with stories
Ideas for developing the sector’s infrastructure included:
- Establishing a professional body like the Royal College of Nursing to oversee standards
- Pooling resources between smaller organisations to sustain local provider networks
- Influencing the quality of courses by building relationships with colleges and training providers
Dr Jo Verrill, managing director at Ceeda, said, ‘Skills gaps and recruitment difficulties are impacting on provision across the country with consequences for staff workloads, operators' costs, the quality of provision and sector capacity. Whilst there are green shoots of recovery in Level 3 awards following the reinstatement of functional skills, big challenges remain.
‘The roundtable event was an inspiring afternoon, filled with energy and ideas on how the sector can work collaboratively and pro-actively to move the agenda forward. Time is of the essence; with teaching, health and social care sectors attracting significant government investment in recruitment campaigns, the early years sector is struggling to compete.’
Speakers at the roundtable included Sunday Times cartoonist and business author Guy Browning; Julie Hyde, director of Cache, who shared the latest news on qualifications; June O’Sullivan of the London Early Years Foundation, who called on the sector to ‘own’ its purpose and pedagogy; and Matt Robinson, client engagement director at Lifetime Learning, who highlighted how apprenticeships can support business objectives.