The children’s workforce strategy is a missed opportunity
to present a bold vision for the future of the child care
workforce, a leading figure in the sector warned last week.
Daycare Trust chair Lisa Harker said the vision set out in the
strategy, published earlier this month, would not deliver the kind
of child care workforce necessary to achieve the objectives set out
in the government’s 10-year child care plan.
The 10-year plan, published in December, talks of “radical
reform of the workforce” so that all families with children
aged up to 14 can access flexible, high quality childcare.
Speaking at the annual Sure Start children’s centres
conference in London, Harker called on the government to work with
the sector to set “clear and ambitious targets” to
raise qualification and experience levels across the child care
“We believe that the target of having one member of staff
trained to graduate level in each setting by 2015 falls short of
the government’s vision of having one of the best child care
services in the world, and will not fulfil the aim to build a child
care workforce of equal status to those working with children in
schools,” Harker said.
She said the transformation fund announced in the
Treasury’s pre-budget report in December to help reform the
workforce was welcome but, standing at just £125m a year from
April 2006, entirely inadequate.
“At the proposed level, it will amount to just £500
per worker – not sufficient to achieve the transformation
that is intended,” she said.
Making her first early years’ speech since being appointed
education secretary, Ruth Kelly acknowledged the current lack of
qualifications among early years’ staff, the difficulties around
career progression, and the knock-on effect of these on recruitment
and retention in the sector.
Insisting that the workforce strategy and transformation fund
would help address these issues, Kelly confirmed the
government’s ambition “to see all those working with
younger children having the same status as those working with older