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.”


Lifestyle

Incarcerated in Auschwitz and other Nazi death camps Zuzana Ruzickova somehow survived and went on to create the complete recordings of her beloved Bach, writes James Lawless.Book review: Nazi horrors replaced by brutal Soviets for piano player

The Menu was delighted to make recent mention of a new UCC postgraduate diploma in Irish food culture and is equally pleased to announce availability of two new bursaries for same.The Menu: Food news with Joe McNamee

George Orwell’s classic novel foretold a lot, but the manner in which we’ve handed over our personal data to faceless corporatocracies is doubleplus-ungood, says Suzanne Harrington.How we sleepwalked into George Orwell’s nightmarish vision

Esther N McCarthy has her eye (and ear) on party speakers for your BBQ, spots a rug that’s out of this world, and revels in all that’s on offer for Heritage Week and Cork Craft Month.Your interiors wish list: Party speakers, Heritage Week and Cork Craft Month

More From The Irish Examiner