Common qualifications for everyone working with children by 2010

The government has confirmed plans to have an integrated qualifications framework covering the entire children’s workforce in place by 2010, and promised to look at the implications of this on pay and conditions in different children’s services.

The integrated framework is intended to simplify the recruitment process for employers and open up career opportunities for people working with children to move up, across and between service areas, and across sectors.

The Children’s Workforce Development Council will consider the impact of this future framework on pay as part of a wider report for the Department for Education and Skills on the impact on recruitment and retention of reward packages offered in different children’s services.

In its response to the consultation on the children’s workforce strategy, published this week, the government insists that no extra funds are needed to achieve these workforce reforms – and that money can actually be saved through their implementation.

The only exception is the £250m Transformation Fund for the development of the early years workforce. The Transformation Fund, worth £84.2m this year, £125m next year, and £40.8m in 2008-9, will provide additional resources to improve the qualification levels of those leading and working in early years settings, without passing the cost on to parents.

Childcare charity the Daycare Trust welcomed the report, but warned that longer-term funding was required in order to make a real difference to the early years workforce.

“We have calculated that the £250m available works out at about £500 per worker per year,” a spokesperson for the charity said. “We estimate that that needs to be doubled to get the level of qualifications that are necessary.

“What we are calling for is for 60% of the workforce to be qualified to graduate level, with salaries and benefits comparable to primary school teachers. The rest of the early years workforce should be qualified to level three [equivalent to A-level standard].

“Currently over 40% of the early years workforce is not even qualified to level two, so there is a long way to go.”

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