Staff crisis fears over pay and training

EARLY education and child care could be the next sector to face a recruitment crisis.

A survey by the Scottish Executive covering 2,300 pre-school centres, out of school clubs and childminders found that one third of pre-school centres and 60 per cent of out of school clubs had difficulty filling paid posts.

"The main difficulty was a lack of applicants with the necessary qualifications or experience," a report states.

"There is an apparent need to bring more staff into the service and to raise levels of experience and qualification among existing staff. However, recruiters had encountered problems filling posts during the previous year and this situation would be exacerbated if pre-school centres and out of school clubs attempted to expand."

Ironically, the report appeared just as Cathy Jamieson, Education Minister, was telling the Scottish Out of School Care Network in Glasgow that expansion of these services is vital if the Executive's policy of "closing the opportunity gap" is to be implemented.

There are currently 5,000 pre-school centres, 364 out of school clubs run by local authorities and 7,500 registered childminders in Scotland. They employ 32,000 staff. Six out 10 childcare workers have some form of qualification, ranging from 74 per cent in the pre-school sector to 38 per cent in out of school clubs and only 25 per cent of childminders.

The report also criticises rates of pay which averaged less than pound;4 an hour for trainees at the time of the survey, rising to just pound;6.30 for supervisors.

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