The early years workforce in England

This report from the UK think tank Education Policy Institute (EPI), supported by the Nuffield Foundation, provides a detailed analysis of the childcare workforce in England.

The report compares conditions and characteristics of childcare workers with those in ‘competing’ jobs such as hairdressers and beauticians – occupations that are often regarded as career alternatives. Comparisons are also made with teachers, and the female working population. The government recognises that childcare can play a critical role in a child’s outcomes in life. Research shows that supporting and developing a high quality workforce is central to this. The report finds that childcare workers face increasing financial pressures and have low qualification levels. Childcare workers have suffered real terms pay losses of 5 per cent since 2013 – in stark contrast to a 2.5 per cent rise amongst the female working population. Pay is low, on average, £8.20 an hour – and around half (44.5 per cent) of childcare workers claim state benefits. Despite being slightly more qualified than hairdressers and beauticians, real pay cuts experienced by childcare workers mean that pay per hour is now at very similar levels to workers in these two professions. Childcare workers also remain far less qualified than teaching workers but have little opportunity to gain higher qualifications.

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