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Pobal Early Years Profile 2017/2018 – Part Two

Pobal Early Years Profile 2017/2018 – Part Two

December 18, 2018

In last week’s Early Times weekly, we looked at the findings of the new Pobal Early Years Sector Profile for 2017/18. As the report contains lots of useful data for the early years sector, we have broken down some of the main findings into a two-part Early Times Weekly series.

Part one covered findings on capacity, enrolment and staff qualifications. Below, in part two we look at findings on staff recruitment and retention; fees and commercial rates.

 

Staff Recruitment and Retention
The impact of the staffing crisis is evident in this year’s Profile, as more than half of services (57%) indicated they experienced challenges in recruiting suitably qualified staff in the past twelve months. Just over a quarter of services (26%) reported having a staff vacancy, which is up from 21% in 2016/2017.

The turnover rate in the sector of 24.7% remains high despite a small decrease from 28.2% last year. Early Childhood Ireland is particularly concerned that providers indicated that 43% of staff that had left their setting, also left the early years sector.

 

Staff Employment Conditions
The high turnover rate may be due to the high rate of part-time work and low wages in the sector. Half of staff in the sector (47%) worked part-time in 2017/18, considerably higher than the national average part-time rate of 20%. Part-time working continues to be more prevalent in community services, where 57% of staff are employed on part-time basis.

The average hourly wage of staff employed in the early years sector is €12.17 an increase of 2% on the previous year (€11.93 in 2016/17). The job title of early years staff continues to have the single biggest influence on wages, followed by the length of time spent working in the early years sector.

Centre managers are paid the highest hourly rate at €14.99 per hour (on average), while relief staff and early years assistants (non-ECCE) earn the least at €10.77 and €10.93 per hour respectively. We are concerned about the lower wages for early years assistants that work with children below ECCE age. There should be equal working conditions for staff that work with children aged under three to ensure the same level of quality of the care and education of these children as those in the ECCE programme.

 

Fees
The average weekly fee for full day care is €177.92, an increase of just under €4.00 (€3.76) or 2.2% on last year. This is only the second consecutive year of fee increases, after several years of stagnation. Part-time fees increased by a higher amount of 3.3% over the last year to €101.82 per week on average.

Fees are higher in affluent locations, urban areas and in private settings. Year-on-year fee increases for full day weekly care are more evident in rural areas than in urban areas and among community settings more so than private settings.

 

Commercial Rates
Early Childhood Ireland continues to advocate for commercial rates alleviation in the early years sector. Almost one in three settings that responded to this year’s Profile survey pay commercial rates. We are concerned about the growing financial burden of commercial rates as there was a 14% increase in the average commercial rates bill paid by settings in the last year (the average bill was €3,949 in 2017/18). In 2017/18, 27% of settings paid over €5,000 in rates and just over one in ten (11%) paid over €10,000, both figures are up on last year.

The Early Years Profile highlights the unequal financial burden of commercial rates as private providers and those in urban areas are more likely to be charged commercial rates. The cost of rates varies by location but tends to be higher in urban areas. The gap between the highest and lowest average rates at county level has expanded by 78%, from €5,482 in 2016/17 to €9,743 this year. A breakdown of average rates by local authority can be found in the report.

 

Every year we look forward to analysing the Pobal Early Years Sector Profile, which contains vital data for future planning in the early years sector. We are really encouraged that 88% of the sector completed this year’s survey that provides data for the report. We call on our members to continue to complete the survey and for our members that have not, please give some consideration to doing so. The more data on our sector that Pobal can collect, the better evidence we have to ensure future plans for our sector benefit the care and education of Ireland’s young children as much as possible.

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