Poor career prospects causing high staff turnover in childcare

Low pay, poor career prospects and long periods off-payroll during the summer months has led to turnover in the childcare sector of up to 22%, it has been claimed.

At Impact trade union’s education conference in Dublin yesterday, it unveiled plans to work with employers in the early years sector to seek increased state funding and the professionalisation of the industry “so that staff providing quality services can be properly rewarded”. The union’s deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan accused politicians of abandoning the childcare issue less than a month after the election.

“The cost and quality of childcare was one of the biggest issues in February’s General Election,” he said, “A month later, it already seems to have fallen off the political agenda. The issue has barely appeared on the priority lists drawn up by the mainly middle-aged men involved in discussions on the make-up of a government.” He said in the meantime Ireland lags behind most European countries when it comes to investment in early care and education.

“That’s why Irish parents face among the highest childcare costs in Europe, while staff in the sector — including well-qualified professionals — are among the lowest paid in our economy,” he said.

Mr Callinan said the additional free pre-school year, announced by the outgoing government in its last budget, was applauded by parents and providers alike. But he said the programme’s inadequate capitation payment was driving down wages because employers were being asked to provide services ‘below cost’.

Impact said a recent Irish Congress of Trade Unions survey found that, although Irish parents pay dearly for pre-school care, early years staff, including well-qualified workers, could earn as little as €5,150 a year in an increasingly casualised sector.

Mr Callinan said low pay, poor career prospects, and long periods off-payroll in the summer, were damaging service quality by driving staff out of the sector, with turnover rates for childcare professionals at 22%.

Mr Callinan said all evidence shows investment in early years services delivers huge benefits for children — particularly those from lower-income backgrounds — and for society and the economy generally.

“Whatever its shape, the incoming government needs to commit to sustained investment in early years to at least bring Ireland up to the OECD average,” he said.

“That investment must be linked to top-quality service provision which, in turn, requires the professionalisation of all early years staff.”

© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved

Email Updates

Receive our lunchtime briefing straight to your inbox

More in this Section

Parents being comforted after baby’s car death

Recalling Cork's lost Jewish community

Facebook ‘likes’ found to have little influence on wellbeing

Dublin mosque steps up security for Ramadan


Breaking Stories

Man gunned down in supermarket car park in front of young son

Latest: Simon Coveney: ‘Urban or rural, council house or mansion, you all matter to us’

Gardaí in Cork appealing for help to find man missing for four days

Latest: Man dies after shooting in Down; murder investigation launched

Lifestyle

All you could wish to see at the Chelsea Flower Show 2017

Darina Allen: A sample of some of the exquisite food cooked during Litfest

Review: James Vincent McMorrow - True Care is a sublime, abstracted gift that keeps on giving'

Style evolution: Four new festival fashion looks

More From The Irish Examiner