Written answers

Thursday, 19 January 2023

Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth

Childcare Qualifications

Photo of Seán CanneySeán Canney (Galway East, Independent)
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277. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth his proposals for childcare professionals in their 50s who have a level 5 qualification with up to six years practical experience who now are required to obtain a level 6 qualification to remain in the service; if he will give recognition for years of service and allow progression to level 6 without having to undergo a third level degree course; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2622/23]

Photo of Roderic O'GormanRoderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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First 5, the whole-of-Government strategy for babies, young children and their families, recognises that the workforce is at the heart of high-quality early learning and care. The evidence suggests children achieve better outcomes when staff are well qualified. This is undisputed internationally. First 5 seeks to continue to build an appropriately skilled and sustainable professional workforce and includes a commitment to achieve a graduate-led workforce by 2028.

Under the Child Care Act 1991 (Early Years Services) Regulations 2016, all staff working directly with children in a pre-school service must hold at least a Level 5 major award in early childhood care and education on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), or a qualification that has been deemed to be equivalent.

In December 2021, I launched Nurturing Skills: The Workforce Plan for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare, 2022-2028. Nurturing Skills aims to strengthen the ongoing process of professionalisation for those working in early learning and care and school-age childcare. It contains a range of commitments to raise the qualification requirements for those working in the sector.

Nurturing Skills, which covers the period up to 2028, states that the minimum qualification requirement will remain a level 5 major award in ELC.

Nurturing Skills also commits to providing supports to enable an increasing proportion of early years educators to have a qualification at level 6 on the National Framework of Qualifications, recognising the complexity of the role they undertake.

While a level 6 award will not be required during the timeframe of this Workforce Plan (to 2028), Nurturing Skills sets a target of increasing the proportion of early years educators with a level 6 (or higher) qualification from 72% in 2021 to 85% by 2028, and it is envisaged that movement towards a level 6 minimum requirement may be the focus of a future Workforce Plan.

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