Tuesday, 22 March 2022
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
655. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the number of qualified childcare workers who are available to be recruited; the number who are being trained; the attrition rate since the pandemic; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13860/22]
Many early learning and care (ELC) and school-age childcare (SAC) services report staffing challenges, as a result of difficulties in both recruitment and retention of staff. In general, staffing pressures in the sector are caused not by insufficient supply of qualified personnel, but by high levels of staff turnover, compounded more recently by high numbers of COVID-19 cases. Recruitment and staff retention difficulties are undoubtedly linked to poor terms and conditions, with for example the average pay for non-managerial staff being €12.60 per hour in 2021.
The current number of qualified early years educators who are available to be recruited is not known. The figure depends on the number of individuals who have achieved a qualification at Level 5 or higher (on the National Framework of Qualifications) in Early Childhood Care and Education over many years, or a qualification recognised as equivalent, their current employment status (whether inside or outside the ELC/SAC sector), as well as the current employment status of qualified staff who have previously left the sector but could return. In addition, some ELC/SAC services recruit qualified staff from outside Ireland. It should also be noted that there is no qualification requirement to work in SAC, and so the potential pool of people who could work in SAC is much larger.
Data on yearly enrolments and graduation in further and higher education institutions is a matter for the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science. However, published data from QQI indicates that 1,728 students were awarded a level 5 qualification in Early Childhood Care and Education in 2021, while 1,517 students graduated with a level 6 award. In addition, many of those completing relevant degrees (at levels 7 and 8) are also qualifying to work in the sector for the first time.
Statistics on the turnover rate of staff in the ELC / SAC sector are gathered through the Annual Early Years Sector Profile. The most recent published report, for 2019/2020, indicates the annual staff turnover rate in 2020 was 18%, which was down five percentage points on the previous year’s figure of 23%. Data on staff turnover in the sector in 2021 will be available with the publication of the 2020/21 Annual Early Years Sector Profile, which I expect to publish in the coming weeks. It should be noted that data on staff turnover includes both those who leave the sector and those who move from one service to another but remain working in the sector - in 2019/20, of those leaving a service, 22% were reported to have gone to another service, and the destination of 13% was unknown.
As the Deputy is aware, the State is not the employer, and my Department does not set wage levels nor determine working conditions for staff in the sector. However, I am doing all that is in my power to address the issue.
I began a process in December 2020, which examined the possibility of regulating pay and conditions and the suitability of a Joint Labour Committee for the sector. This process culminated in the establishment of a Joint Labour Committee, which began meeting in December 2021. In Budget 2022, I announced a new Core Funding stream which, among other objectives, will support service providers to meet new higher rates of pay that may be negotiated through the Joint Labour Committee.
Also, in December 2021, I launched Nurturing Skills: The Workforce Plan for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare, 2022-2028, which aims to strengthen the ongoing process of professionalisation for those working in early learning and care and school-age childcare, and includes actions to support staff recruitment and retention and to raise the profile of careers in the sector.
656. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth the support and assistance that has been provided to prevent the closure of a crèche (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13861/22]
My Department funds a national network of County Childcare Committees (CCC) who provide support and advice to early learning and childcare (ELC) providers including support on operating the various funding schemes provided by the Department and assistance for parents on accessing funding schemes and place. Contact details for all of the CCCs are available at myccc.ie
The Dublin City Childcare Committee (DCCC) team has been in contact with the service in question and is providing appropriate support including:
1. Updating the manager on current and upcoming DCEDIY funding schemes,
2. Outlining the potential for the service, going forward.
3. Providing support and guidance to bring about a change of ownership of the service.
The DCCC Development Officer has offered to call on site or virtually to provide advice and training (as required) to ensure the viability of this service.