Early years settings in England are finding it a real struggle to recruit the extra staff they need so they can offer the 30 hours free childcare for three and four-year-olds, according to new research.
A study by independent analyst Ceeda found that in July and August 2017, nearly 45 per cent of private and voluntary sector providers had staff vacancies, totalling an estimated 24,600 posts.
In addition, researchers found that 84 per cent of nurseries which are recruiting are finding it hard to fill their vacancies.
Dr Jo Verrill, managing director of Ceeda, said: ‘Recruitment difficulties are rife in the early years sector and show little sign of improving in the short term. It will take time to replace the fall-out in new entrants. Meanwhile, wider market pressures are building.’
The Government launched its 30-hour ‘free’ childcare for all three and four-year-olds of working parents in September, but without enough staff, nurseries are struggling to look after more children.
Dr Verrill believes that more Government funding is crucial, in order to help nursery employers retain workers and be competitive.
She says: ‘As the 30-hour childcare offer rolls out, Government funding levels have an ever-increasing influence on what the sector can afford to pay its staff.’
The research reveals that more than half of all childcare vacancies (12,850 posts), are for staff with Level 3. There are also shortages at entry level with 4,180 estimated vacancies for apprentices.
Childcare providers said that 36 per cent of applicants didn’t have the necessary qualifications and 22 per cent didn’t have the required experience. A general lack of interest in childcare as a
career option (27 per cent) was also flagged.
Ceeda partly attributes the recruitment problems to the Government decision in 2014 to require GCSE Maths and English, as opposed to functional skills, for Level 3 childcare qualifications, which has since been reversed.
More information about Ceeda’s ‘About Early Years’ sector research programme, including how to get involved at: www.aboutearlyyears.co.uk.