ABOUT three-quarters of the 42,000 people who responded to the childcare recruitment drive intend to apply for a job or undertake training in the sector, a government survey suggests.
The first stage of the four-year campaign could make significant inroads into recruiting the 200,000 workers needed to give every three and four-year-old a free nursery place by 2004, and expand other childcare services.
A second series of TV and magazine adverts started this week and will run until the end of January. The TV commercials show children putting prospective childcarers through their paces by watching them make a monster out of an egg box.
Childcare associations have attacked the campaign for suggesting that the only qualification needed for the job was "to like kids". Tricia Pritchard, spokeswoman for the Professional Association of Nursery Nurses, said the huge response showed that "all and undry" had made enquiries.
A spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment said:
"Potential childcarers come from a variety of backgrounds, some will need training and all will have their background checked first to make sure that they are suitable to work with children."
The survey of 700 people who responded to the initial adverts showed that 77 per cent had applied for or intended to apply for a job and 74 per cent said they had enrolled or intended to apply for a training course.
An announcement is expected soon on the new head of the Early Years Directorate - an arm of the Office for Standards in Education. The directorate, dubbed "Oftot", will take over the regulation and inspection of childminders, nurseries, playgroups and creches from September and employ 1,900 people.
For further information see www.childcarelink.gov.uk or telephone 0800 996600