Almost half of childcare workers are looking for jobs outside the sector
An industry in crisis?
Creches and childcare facilities across Ireland have been struggling for a long time to recruit and retain staff, and according to a new report, almost 40 percent of people working in childcare are actively seeking to leave the sector.
The Early Years Staffing and Pay Survey, conducted by Siptu, which is due to be published this week, has found that 39 percent of early years staff are actively looking for a job outside of their profession. Sounds bad? It gets worse as we learn that this increases to 41 percent for lead educators who generally have higher qualifications.
'I live paycheck to paycheck'
According to the Irish Examiner, a total of 1,977 people took part in the survey which was carried out this month, with one respondent stating: "The lack of staff entering the profession brings a lot of stress and work on those who are left due to very high turnover."
Another person stated: "I love working in the early years sector, but I am not paid enough to stay long term.
"I am 53 and I need to secure my future financially. As it is, I live from paycheck to paycheck."
This is obviously worrying to hear for parents, who might find themselves without childcare, as creche owners have warned that recruitment and retention issues are negatively impacting services, with 67 percent warning that it could reduce the number of children that can be cared for and 38.8 percent stating that it could lead to a complete closure of their service.
Half of employers said that the lack of staff is forcing them to recruit workers with limited experience.
"There is a shortage of good teachers out there because the pay and conditions are appalling for the amount of stress they endure and the years of study," one respondent said.
Recruitment and retention crisis
Darragh O'Connor, Siptu head of strategic organising and campaigns, said low pay has caused a recruitment and retention crisis in early years which is undermining the sustainability of services, quality for children, and accessibility for parents.
With the majority of workers earning below the living wage of €12.90 an hour and those with an honours degree being paid just €13.21 an hour, Mr O'Connor said that "unsurprisingly this has resulted in an annual staff turnover of 19 percent."
However, he said there is "light at the end of the tunnel" and a new core funding model due to be introduced in September should make an impact.
Children's Minister Roderic O'Gorman last year secured €221m towards the core funding model, which will see providers receive increased State funding provided they sign up to setting minimum rates of pay for all roles across the sector and do not increase fees to parents.
“We are on the cusp of transformative change for the early learning and childcare sector," Minister O’Gorman said.
"Delivering high-quality, affordable early learning and childcare is one of my top priorities as minister."
“Core funding is central to this, and will involve a fundamental shift in the relationship between the State and providers."