A Workforce in Crisis: Saving our Early Years



A new report on the crisis in the early years workforce has revealed that without immediate intervention, the sector is at risk of becoming unsustainable.

Produced by the Early Years Workforce Commission, a steering group made up of leaders from across the sector, the report titled "A Workforce in Crisis: Saving our Early Years" highlights key challenges and provides a set of recommendations to ensure the sector’s workforce is able to continue providing sustainable and high-quality early years provision. These are based on research and data gathered from a range of stakeholders, including from two recent reports (Revisiting the Nutbrown Review – Policy and Impact and Early Years Impact Brief) developed in conjunction with CREC's Prof. Chris Pascal, Prof. Tony Bertram and Dr Aline Cole-Albäck for the Sutton Trust.

Evidence from this new report shows that:
 - 23% of the workforce felt that their job was safe following the outbreak of the virus.
 - 44% of the early years workforce respondents feel their learning and development has been negatively impacted during the pandemic
 - More than 50% of the early years workforce respondents said low pay was the main factor resulting in people leaving the sector
 - 64% of early years workforce respondents have not had a pay rise in the last one to two years or more


Prof. Chris Pascal and Prof. Tony Bertram, Directors at CREC commented on the new report:

"Developing, recruiting and retaining skilled and well-qualified early years practitioners is essential to sustaining high quality early education and care. It makes a proven difference to child learning and development, particularly for children from low income and at risk families.

Future priorities for the government’s early years workforce strategy as they attempt to mitigate the growing inequalities in society, which have been widened further by the COVID pandemic, should make it clear that progress towards achieving a world class early years workforce has stalled in recent years and, in some respects, the challenges facing the sector have worsened.

The costs of establishing and sustaining a highly qualified early years workforce should be seen as an investment in human capital for future generations and a signal of the importance given to securing social mobility for our left behind young children.

Changing government and public perceptions of a sector which to date has been viewed as providing primarily a childcare function, to a sector which is seen as a highly professionalised and vital foundational element of our educational system, with both the capability and the capacity to drive much needed social and economic renewal is ambitious, but rightly so.

There has never been a time when the case for investment in this vital sector of our economy has been more needed or more thoroughly evidenced. If not now, when? Generations of much needed talent are being lost through the lack of vision and investment in the early years workforce and we cannot afford to delay any longer."

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