September 25, 2022

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Almost 40 per cent of staff working in the early years childcare sector are actively seeking to leave the profession citing low pay as the main reason, a survey has found.

Many services may be restricted or face potential closure due to an inability to recruit and retain staff, it also found.

The survey, conducted by SIPTU, included more than 1,977 managers and staff in the early years sector and was published on Monday.

Almost two-thirds of managers and owners said challenges recruiting and retaining staff will affect the quality of services. Over half said the issue will make it difficult to maintain staff-to-child ratios while 39 per cent said it would lead to service closure.

Deborah Reynolds, an early years teacher, said many services are struggling to hire and hold on to staff because of low pay.

“Most early years educators earn below the living wage of €12.90 per hour and they simply cannot afford to stay in their profession,” she said.

“This is bad for workers, but high staff turnover rates also undermine quality of care for children and the sustainability of services.”

Darragh O’Connor, Siptu Head of Strategic Organising, said thousands of its members have been campaigning for better pay and recognition and that in Budget 2022, “the Government responded”.

“A new ‘Core Funding’ is to be introduced which will support a historic first pay deal due to be introduced in the coming weeks,” he said.

“The pay deal will raise thousands, of mostly female workers, out of poverty. SIPTU is calling on the Government to build on this foundation in the upcoming budget and recognise the contribution early years educators make to the economy, society and the lives of children.”

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