Almost half of England's early years settings need more staff, and many more struggle to fill vacant posts, according to Ceeda's About Early Years report
Research they carried out in the summer months showed that 45% of nurseries and pre-schools had vacancies, totalling approximately 24,600 jobs.
But a masive 84% said they were struggling to fill their vacancies.
Stella Ziolkowski, NDNA’s Director of Quality and Workforce Development, said: “This report showing that half of settings have vacancies makes difficult reading, but it echoes our own research on staff qualifications, recruitment and retention.
“It’s time that the government’s workforce strategy does what it was intended to do – develop a well-qualified, professional, properly-rewarded workforce.
“Although it was good news that functional skills were introduced alongside GCSE requirements, it will take at least another year before the sector feels the benefit of that decision. Nurseries need help urgently with recruitment and retention in order to fulfil the 30 hours funded childcare promise to parents. Sadly, the sector is suffering from a low pay legacy as a result of years of underfunding for ‘free’ childcare schemes.
“The government says that the apprenticeship levy will increase the amount of apprenticeships but smaller settings will have to pay 10% which, for many, will tip the balance in favour of unqualified staff.
“All these additional business costs are making staff training less and less likely which could put a question mark over the quality of experience children receive.”
Stella added: “It is clear from this report that the balance has swung to getting more parents into work or to work more hours rather than focusing on maintaining high quality provision.
“This balance will not be redressed until an adequate hourly rate is provided for the delivery of the free entitlement. The sector has always embraced the development of staff but due to the squeeze in margins to a point where they may no longer be sustainable, settings are forced to provide only what is mandatory in order to comply with Ofsted regulations.
“The government needs to take a fresh look at this. There needs to be a long term strategy coupled with a suitable funding to help to make this happen.
“We are seeing the numbers of practitioners qualified to level 3 diminishing – the pipeline to early years teachers. We have seen early years teachers moving out of the nursery sector into schools for better pay.
“Nurseries want to have teachers and graduate practitioners, but they simply can’t afford to train them or replace them when they leave.
“The DfE needs to work with the sector to work out a solution to this huge issue to ensure there is a win-win solution: to deliver this promise sustainably and be able to deploy graduates within their settings.