NCFE Report Recommends Workforce Strategy
A new report from education charity NCFE has highlighted the difficult state of recruitment and retention in the early years sector. While the findings will not come as a surprise to those working in childcare, they nonetheless underline the critical challenge that the sector faces. The report highlights a growing skills gap in which the number of vacancies within the sector has grown 2% over the past five years. Given that they also predict the number of staff required will increase by over 20,000 by 2035, it is clear this issue needs to be addressed.
The report calls for investment in the early years workforce, and recommends policy focus on three key areas:
• Qualifications and training
• Career progression
• Changing the narrative
The last point forms the crux of the NCFE’s argument. Recently the narrative in support of investment in childcare has become increasingly economic. Few doubt the benefits that access to childcare offers the economy through enabling parents to return to the workforce. However, the benefits of early education to children risk being forgotten in a push to simply increase access and capacity without an eye on quality.
No-one begins their early education career with the objective of freeing up parents to go to work. People go into childcare because they have a deep drive to work with children and to provide them with the best possible start in life. The NCFE report recommends shifting the focus to this crucial point, and both developing and recognising a workforce with the skills and professionalism to make a critical difference to young lives.
The report can be read here: https://www.ncfe.org.uk/media/q5ofx4pz/175-sector-spotlight-reports-early-years.pdf