Poor pay and conditions for nursery and childcare workers is jeopardising efforts to improve skills levels and the overall quality of services, a report has warned.
A report by the Daycare Trust charity and the TUC found that some workers in the sectors were being paid below the National Minimum Wage and enduring poor working conditions.
The report argues that working in the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector must be seen as a positive career choice to recruit the most talented and committed staff.
The key recommendations are:
- The government should establish a group involving employers and trade unions to examine the impact of poor pay and conditions in the workforce and to make clear recommendations to tackle this problem.
- Set new standards so ECEC workers’ pay and conditions improve in line with improved qualifications and are benchmarked against other relevant early years professionals.
- ECEC providers should be required to provide details of staff pay and conditions as part of their Ofsted inspections to ensure they are complying with minimum wage regulations.
- All staff should have the opportunity to acquire qualifications equivalent to NVQ Level 3 by 2015.
Daycare Trust joint chief executive Alison Garnham said: “To increase quality, you need to increase the skill levels of the workforce and to do that you need to offer far better pay and conditions. It sounds simple and the government clearly understand this, but unless it takes note of the findings and recommendations of this report it will not achieve the aims.
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “There is no justification for those working with younger children to endure such dramatically poorer pay and conditions than other professionals in the children’s sector, and it is vital that early childhood education and care is seen as a universally attractive career option.”