DfE launches recruitment campaign and incentive payments for early years
A major new national recruitment campaign has been launched by the Department for Education today (Friday 2nd February) alongside a trial of £1,000 cash sign-on bonuses.
The Government released their latest data that showed that 102,480 children have been registered on the system, “reflecting the strength of demand across the country before the first phase of the largest ever expansion in free childcare kicks in from April.”
And the DfE also said that there would in future be an eight-week window for local authorities to confirm their funding rates once they had been released nationally.
Although NDNA welcomed the support, it comes too late to support nurseries with the expansion in April.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of NDNA said: “We have been calling for this national recruitment campaign to support the early years sector for years, so we very much welcome this initiative. Early years practitioners do an incredible job educating children and supporting families, so it’s great to see that two thirds of parents recognise that these professionals are among the most important people in their child’s life.
“The sector needs thousands more staff so we hope that the tax-free incentive will form part of a comprehensive workforce plan if the pilot is successful. The amount is still not in line with teacher recruitment, so to attract highly-skilled and qualified staff the Government must match these payments with teacher recruitment campaigns.
“We know from our research that recruiting and retaining staff, especially qualified practitioners, is the biggest challenge facing all early years providers. This could also be the most significant barrier to parents being able to find their child a place.
“NDNA has been calling for the Government to speed up local funding rate decisions, so bringing forward that deadline is a step in the right direction, helping providers to plan how many places they can offer and giving more certainty to parents.
“It’s important to stress that this campaign comes too late to support nurseries with the first phase of the childcare expansion which begins in two months. Campaigns like this take time to have a positive impact and the sector needs qualified and experienced staff now.
“Our research with providers suggests that 83% are operating at a loss or just breaking even. Without addressing funding which hasn’t kept pace with rising costs, nurseries are unable to pay competitive wages that their staff teams deserve so they can retain them in their settings. The Government must bring forward a long-term workforce strategy to address underfunding, recruitment, retention and career progression to support those who care for our youngest children.”
Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan said: “Parents shouldn’t have to choose between a career and a family and our expanded childcare offer is going to make sure of that.
“From April, hundreds of thousands of parents of two year olds will get 15 funded hours. This is good for families and good for the wider economy – ultimately putting more money in parents’ pockets at the end of the month.
“The fantastic nurseries, childminders and professionals across the childcare sector are central to the success of this rollout and our new recruitment campaign will support them in continuing to deliver the flexible and high-quality childcare parents need.
“The “Do Something Big” recruitment campaign is to encourage people to start a career working with small children – one part of this government’s ongoing sector support to ensure providers are in the best position to deliver the places parents need from April and September this year and next.
“The campaign will look to boost recruitment across the sector by highlighting the vast array of childcare career routes and progression opportunities offering on-the-job training, flexible hours, and, most importantly, the chance to shape and support young lives.
“A £1,000 sign-on bonus for childcare workers is also being launched today to increase capacity, tackle unemployment, and offer more childcare places.
“The trial – which will cover 20 local authorities across the UK – will give new-starters and returners a tax-free cash payment shortly after they take up post.
“Supporting with the cost of childcare and delivering a sustainable childcare sector is just one part of wider government efforts to grow the economy and reduce debt, with inflation falling from 11.1% to 4% and National Insurance by 2% in the last year alone.”
New research finds half (51%) of Brits would consider working with pre-school children, and 2 in 5 (39%) agreed they would be more likely to do so if given £1,000 cash after joining.
The survey highlighted just how influential early years professionals are in a child’s development, with 97% of parents agreeing an early years professional had an impact on their child’s development, and two thirds (66%) agreeing they are one of the most important people in their child’s life.
Each year, the government sets out funding rates in the autumn, to take effect in the following financial year. A window – likely to be eight weeks – will be introduced, within which local authorities have to confirm rates, after the point the Department announces local authority rates. The Government said it “will work with the sector in the coming weeks to finalise the approach.”
The government has also made clear to all local authorities that they should confirm local funding rates that come into force from 1 April no later than the end of February.
NDNA member Clare Roberts, Kids Planet CEO said: “Many parents already recognise how amazing early years and childcare professionals are, but it’s time that everyone else does too, and that the sector is given the recognition and importance it deserves in the valuable job it does to shape future generations.
“To deliver the government’s expansion of childcare and for it to be successful, we need to see significant growth across the sector, and what better way than to spotlight the incredible people already supporting and shaping our children.
“I welcome the launch of this campaign and would urge anyone interested in pursuing a career in childcare to take that first step and start exploring the opportunities available.”