Some 90% of educators say low rates of pay are forcing them to question their future in the childcare sector, a survey has suggested.
In a sector with an annual turnover of staff of 25%, childcare services are struggling to retain qualified, experienced workers.
The inaugural Early Years Professionals’ survey found that the problem may become worse with more than half of all those working in the sector actively looking for a different job.
The survey also found that 94% of childcare workers cannot make ends meet on their pay, while in a sector which overwhelmingly employs women, 66% do not receive paid maternity leave.
The survey was carried out earlier this year 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.”
She 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.”
Darragh O’Connor, head of organising and campaigns at SIPTU, 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.”
- Press Association