In July this year, Jane Haywood became chief executive of the children’s workforce development council, which itself came into being just three months earlier. Since then, haywood has spent a lot of time talking to key stakeholders and acknowledges that there are many concerns among the children’s workforce, not least around the potential loss of professional skills, around pay and conditions and around parity of esteem across professions.
Pay will be central to reforming the workforce, especially at the lower levels where low pay and status have long been an issue. However, the cwdc will have no control over this. So haywood’s strategy is to work instead on training and qualifications to produce a highly trained and skilled workforce so they will have “a much stronger argument for better pay”.
Part of that work involves looking at what an integrated qualification framework (iqf) might look like, and how it will enable the development of a “climbing frame” of opportunity.
“it needs to be simple,” she says. “you should be able to look at the framework and say ‘where am i in this, where do i want to get to, and what do i need to do to get there?’.” accessible qualifications and learning opportunities, such as weekend and evening training courses, will also be essential.
The children’s workforce strategy talks about six workforce skill levels, but haywood says this is in no way set in stone. “i’m hoping the children’s workforce strategy consultation responses will give us a clearer idea about where to go with this,” she explains.
Another challenge is breaking down professional boundaries and getting workers out of their silos – which haywood believes they don’t want to be in anyway.
“they can see that if you are not in a silo you can provide a better service,” she maintains. “what drives them into their silos is pressure of work, a lack of clarity about how they are expected to work and what is valued, and a fear of the unknown. So it’s about building trust and painting a picture of the future that shows that their professional skills are valued alongside other sets of professional skills and that one kind of worker is not better than another.”
Haywood believes the whole discussion around “pedagogues” does not have much resonance with the english children’s workforce, and wants to see the debate reframed around making sure every professional is focused on the child as a whole person.
With major pieces of work in progress including supporting the development of local workforce strategies and working with the children’s workforce network to review national occupational standards, many in the sector have questioned whether the £125m transformation fund, and the cwdc’s funding of £45m to the end of 2008, is equal to the task in hand. Haywood concedes that there is “never enough money”, but maintains her job is to spend her budget wisely, link up to other sources of funding, and then make the case for extra funding where it is needed.
Ultimately, haywood says, success will depend on bringing the workforce with them. “there are lots of people working at the moment who might not have the qualifications we want them to have, but are doing a fantastic job. This is not about saying ‘you are only good enough if you have got a level 4’. What we must be saying is ‘we want all our people to be at a level 4 and here is a way that you can do it’.”
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It is one of five bodies forming the federated UK Skills for Care and Development Sector Skills Council.