Workforce and Qualifications

The nursery sector is currently facing a recruitment crisis. View workforce and qualification policy updates and guidance below.


Following lobbying from NDNA and the sector, the Government agreed in March 2017 to allow functional equivalents – practical tests showing a good working knowledge of English and maths – to be accepted as an alternative alongside GCSEs. This eased some of the pressure caused by the requirement to have GCSE English and Maths at grade C or above that meant many otherwise suitable candidates could not gain entry to early years professional courses.

However, the early years sector still faces a workforce crisis with recruitment and retention a challenge across England, Scotland and Wales. Our work with Education Policy Institute has shed further light on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the early years workforce since March 2020.

Other issues are that chronic underfunding from the Government limits the salaries that nurseries are able to pay and levels of training and development. This is leading to talented and hardworking staff members leaving the sector to earn more money and gain better career progression elsewhere.