The “undervalued” childcare sector in a recruitment crisis


GOREY Erika’s Fairy Wood Daycare responds to an industry in crisis by offering salary increases and salary increases for staff.

Owner Noel and Erika Chambers said the pay increase is due to be provided by the government next September but, after struggling to attract staff in recent weeks, they decided to advance the increase as an offer. of goodwill for the future.

Having worked in the industry for 15 years, Noel said the culture is changing, but for too long this line of work has been taken for granted by society at large and underfunded by governments.

According to Early Childhood Ireland, the national average salary for all staff is € 11.70, that for early childhood educators is less than € 11.13 and the average for wardens is € 12.30.

With eight staff members at Erika’s Fairy Wood, no staff member is paid less than € 14 per hour with room managers at € 18 per hour and the average salary is around € 16.50 Of time.

Noel said salary increases will be key to attracting and keeping professionals in the industry.

“There is a shortage of nursery nurses in the country and everyone is talking about it because we all suffer in the same way. In the past we have had people working for us who went to college and had degrees but only got 11 € an hour and that’s not true.

“You think of a teacher, an accountant or a lawyer, no one who works in the profession he was trained for gets a little more than minimum wage, so we don’t see what it should be different in the industry. child care. It is not the fault of the service providers and we know that we cannot solve the national problem but we want to improve it a bit for now

“The increase in our salaries to 18 € for the hall managers who would all be graduates came from the idea that we think it is an insult to give them less. Lately, it has been impossible to recruit, but once we raised the salaries, interviews have poured in ”.

In the budget, the budget for early learning and care will increase from € 638 million to € 716 million in 2022.

“Minister Roderic O’Gorman has brought about a transformation and the idea of ​​salary scales is important, but the fact that staff will not see the increase in their pockets until September is not enough,” Noel said.

“The fact that we and other child care centers are understaffed has an impact and is causing us problems, especially in the context of Covid. We have to take care of 66 children and if someone gets sick we have to break our own rules. We need to have one staff member for 11 kids in groups, and we’re not supposed to bring a teacher from another group, but if we don’t, it leaves us very cramped. For a long time we have tried to recruit a specialized assistant for our staff, but we do not have the extra hands. We don’t want a situation where we have a child who needs extra support and doesn’t get it ”.

Noel said the industry undervalued by the company must stop.

“People just think about what we do as a child care center and it has taken an incredibly long time to see that mindset change. When the ECCE program arrived, we were recognized as early childhood educators preparing children for school. Although our staff are educators, we have staff who sign unemployment when we cannot give them hours.

“We want people to treat our workers as they would elementary teachers because many of them have level eight degrees and specialize in this area. We want to value their education and training, and recognize the important work that they do, so we hope other departments could follow suit and find within their budgets what we’ve done to give recognition and structure.

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