Research shows depth of staffing crisis

Research shows depth of staffing crisis

New research shows depth of staffing crisis in early years education 

86% of facilities fear recruitment difficulties will impact on their future viability

Problems recruiting and retaining well qualified staff to work in pre-schools and crèches is putting their survival at risk according to research published today by Early Childhood Ireland.

The research which was compiled of responses from 500 crèches, pre-schools and other early years facilities shows a sector that is struggling to survive due to the poor working conditions and low salaries afforded to staff.

Main findings of the research:

  • 86% of services said that they were concerned that problems recruiting and retaining staff will impact on the viability of their service
  • 36% of those who tried to recruit staff in the last twelve months were unable to find anyone suitable
  • 46% of those who did manage to recruit had to settle for someone with lower qualifications than they’d wanted
  • Of those who’ve had staff leave their service in the last 12 months, 57% cited working in the sector wasn’t financially viable as the reason
  • 25% said that they have had to or will have to let staff go due the introduction of the new minimum qualifications1
  • Overall, 49% of services were finding it difficult to retain staff
  • The sector had a turnover rate of 28.4% in the last 12 months

The research findings will be presented to Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr Katherine Zappone TD, at Early Childhood Ireland’s annual conference which takes place, tomorrow, 1 April in UCD.

 Early Childhood, Ireland CEO, Teresa Heeney said;

“Sadly, the findings of this survey are no great surprise. On a daily basis, I hear from owners of crèches and pre-school facilities of the challenges they face in finding and holding onto staff.

The low pay and uncertain working conditions of early years professionals mean that often, many simply can’t afford to keep working in the sector and are forced to seek alternative employment in other areas. This is a real shame, because early years professionals have a passion for working with young children and have earned qualifications up to and including degree level.

However, although parents in Ireland are paying the second highest rates of childcare in the OECD, service owners are not in a position to meet higher wage costs due to low levels of state investment.” 

The average rate of pay for an early years educator working in Ireland is €10.27 per hour. Having a third level degree will earn you €1 extra per hour. According to the OECD, the average European family pays 17 per cent of household income on childcare. An Irish family pays an average of 34 percent. This is the second highest.

Teresa Heeney said;

“While there has been some progress in addressing the historic levels of low state spending in the sector, more investment is needed in order to catch up with other developed nations.  If we are serious about providing a childcare sector that works for staff, parents and most importantly children, we need properly resource it.” 

Early Childhood Ireland represents over 3,600 childcare members who support over 100,000 children and their families through preschool, afterschool and full daycare provision nationwide. Its work includes quality enhancement, publications, advocacy, training, business support and information for a sector that employs 25,000 people today. 

Notes to editor 

1.       Minimum Qualification: From 31 December 2016, as stated in the Child Care Act (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016, all staff working directly with children must hold a minimum of QQI Level 5 Major Award in Early Childhood Care and Education.

This regulation will not apply to persons working in the sector who signed the grandfathering clause, before 30 June 2016, that stated he or she intends to retire from employment in a pre-school service before 1 September 2021.

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