The Education Policy Institute (EPI) have published a comparative analysis on the early years workforce in England using data from the Labour Force Survey. It gives a comprehensive view of who early years professionals are and how their characteristics have changed over time. It looks into demographic characteristics, education levels, employment conditions and earnings, remarking similarities and differences across individual's occupations within the sector.
- The Graduate Leader Fund was successful in setting the early years sector on a path towards increasing workers’ qualification levels.
- In line with the aims of the Fund, the increase in degree-qualified workers happened mainly in the private, voluntary and independent (PVI) sector.
- Alongside the increase in degree-qualified workers, an increase in qualification levels in broader terms was observed.
- The introduction of the requirement for new starters of level 3 Early Years Educators training to hold a grade C in GCSE English and mathematics to be counted in ratios and the expansion of the entitlements pulled the sector capacity in two different directions.
- Changes in workforce composition by qualifications were mixed after 2013.
Liz Bayram, Chief Executive at the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years (PACEY) comments:
“EPI’s latest report reinforces all the concerns PACEY has been raising with government for far too long now. We hear from our members and other providers that recruiting and retaining the staff they need to deliver the quality experiences that children deserve is becoming more and more challenging. Not only are there fewer qualified practitioners available but the ongoing challenge of inadequate funding levels for early education entitlements makes attracting and retaining qualified staff all the more difficult.
“This report reminds us that a properly funded, long-term workforce development strategy that supports more practitioners to grow their qualification levels and pays them a salary commensurate with the important job they do does work. We need this government to focus on how it will improve the funding the early years sector receives, so that it can make the investment it so desperately wants to in upskilling its practitioners. We cannot continue to kid ourselves that high quality provision can be sustained in a sector where most practitioners are on such low incomes they can earn more in a supermarket and 44% rely on some form of in-work benefit to make ends meet.”