90% Of Educators Questioning Future In Childcare Sector

Some 90% of educators are questioning their future in the childcare sector, with low rates of pay the main issue.

The issue has been revealed in the inaugural Early Years Professionals' survey.

In a sector with an annual staff turnover of 25%, childcare services are struggling to retain qualified, experienced workers with the survey finding the problem may worsen with more than half of all those working in the sector actively looking for a different job.

Other key findings include that 94% of childcare workers cannot make ends meet on their pay, while in a sector which overwhelmingly employs women, 66% don't receive paid maternity leave.

The survey was carried out during June 2019 by Dr Amy Greer Murphy, a social scientist who uses qualitative research to understand inequality and the impact of public policy on social and health outcomes.

She said: "Over 3,200 individuals responded to the survey including educators, room leaders, owner-managers, managers and assistant managers. The findings of the survey highlight the difficulties facing Early Years professionals in Ireland today. We gathered responses from workers all around the country who stated overwhelmingly that they felt undervalued and underpaid."

Greer Murphy added: "This indicates the need for government to engage with employees in the sector to ensure their working conditions are improved and to guarantee the children in their care get the best experience possible."

Early Years educator, Claire Casey, said: "In common with all other Early Years teachers, I have sacrificed a lot in order to work in the profession which I love and which I believe is vitally important to the country."

SIPTU Head of Organising and Campaigns, Darragh O'Connor, said: "The results of the survey reveal not only the major issues facing Early Years educators but also their solutions. The educators are saying they will have to leave their jobs if their conditions do not change."

He added: "In response the SIPTU Big Start campaign is calling on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to reform the Early Childhood Education and Care sector. The first step is for the Government to invest in the sector by ensuring the minimum rate of pay for workers is the Living Wage."


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