Early Years Staffing Crisis

Qualified staff in early years
Qualified staff in early years

As an early years provider running for only 6 weeks per year, Mini Minors, like many others, relies heavily on qualified teachers, nursery practitioners and early years practitioners leaving the classroom behind for the holidays, and coming to earn some extra cash in a fun environment.

In recent years these individuals have become harder to come by. More and more of these qualified staff are leaving the industry, with significantly increased numbers not entering the industry to begin with. Some of the reasons for leaving childcare range from feeling under appreciated by the government and being completely overlooked, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, to the fact that you can earn more stacking shelves in a supermarket or working in McDonald’s.

According to the Early Years Alliance (EYA), 8 out of 10 early years providers are having difficulty recruiting staff. Mini Minors in North London report a 35% drop in applications from individuals holding relevant qualifications compared to 2019. As a result, providers are either closing their doors or limiting the number of places available to children. EYA reported 5500 childcare providers closed their doors in 2022, some due to staffing issues, others due rising energy costs and a lack of government assistance. These figures are worrying and not easy to bounce back from!

Early years staffing crisis
Early years staffing crisis

These pre-school and holiday facilities, such as Mini Minors and XUK Day camps are vital for a child’s growth and development, as well as a source of childcare enabling parents to work. Today the government have reduced the age limit for free childcare for children over the age of 9 months, opening this service up to millions more children. This announcement is a great step forward in addressing the parental return to the workplace, however there has been no indication of an effort to encourage qualified staff to return to the industry, nor any incentives to entice new people in.

A Mini Minors spokesperson fears ‘the governments promise will put further strain on the limited spaces offered by childcare providers.’

EYFS Statutory Framework states the staff to child ratio for children below 2 years old is 1:3 & for age 2 years is 1:4 (increasing to 1:5). These figures make early years settings significantly more staff intensive at a time where suitable qualified individuals are illusive.

Nursery staff at XUK camps
Nursery staff at XUK camps

‘Finding the quantity of quality, qualified staff that is essential in running our provision is becoming more difficult each year. We are unable to facilitate the number of children we used to back in 2019.’ Says Richard Bernstein, director of XUK Camps.

To start the recovery of pre-school childcare the government must intervene fast to improve the infrastructure. There needs to be:

  • incentives and funding for new facilities to be opened to increase the number of places available for children
  • increased wages for those in childcare jobs
  • incentives for those holding qualifications to return to the industry
  • incentives for those with a passion for working with children to undertake qualifications most needed by these facilities.

Without the infrastructure, many of the promises made today will not benefit parents and their young children and will end up wasting money without actually solving any problems.