Voice Community – which represents early years professionals – has welcomed the TUC’s call for an urgent cash boost to the childcare sector, and an immediate increase in the minimum wage.
National Officer, Helen Osgood, said:
“We welcome the TUC’s statement. Low pay is at the heart of the recruitment and retention crisis in the early years sector, and must be addressed urgently.
“It’s a great injustice that highly trained and experienced early years professionals, often educated to degree level, can earn more in unskilled jobs.
“As the early years workforce is predominantly young and female, consideration must be given to increasing their pay in order to close the gender pay gap for the better.
“They’ve gone above and beyond to makes sure nurseries stayed open through the pandemic. They shouldn’t have to leave their vocation and stack supermarket shelves to make ends meet.
“Current funding levels are not sufficient, which increases costs for parents and makes it difficult for employers to pay higher wages. We therefore welcome the TUC’s call for increased funding for the sector.
“For too long the early years have been treated as the poor relation when it comes to government funding, support and policies – overlooked, pushed to the back of the queue or included as an after-thought. This has got to stop.
“Increased pay is needed to keep highly trained, quality staff in the profession and attract new staff. They deserve a proper national salary and career structure.
“These formative years in a child’s education are crucial, and children need the stability of staff remaining in long-term employment through proper funding mechanisms.”
Many staff working in the sector report feeling exhausted, undervalued, and stressed. In Voice Community’s 2021 survey report, The Future of Education, early years sector members recommended:
- a fair wage for every worker that takes account of their training and qualifications;
- the “free entitlement” to be fixed so it is truly free and works for both early years settings and parents;
- career development for early years workers;
- a focus on social skills and mental wellbeing; and
- a return to learning through play.
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