Skills Development Scotland (SDS) has highlighted a need for the nation’s early learning and childcare sector to attract a more diverse workforce to create an additional 11,000 jobs by 2020 to meet expected demand.
Working with a sector-led Steering Group made up of employers and partners, including the SSSC, the Care Inspectorate, the Care and Learning Alliance, Early Years Scotland, the Scottish Funding Council and the Scottish Childminding Association, SDS has created a new national Early Learning and Childcare Skills Investment Plan (SIP).
SDS Chief Executive, Damien Yeates said:
‘The Skills Investment Plan recognises that the Early Learning and Childcare sector has the ability to meet growing demand for a skilled workforce.
‘There are challenges to meet to ensure growth at such an ambitious level in the sector.
‘The Plan identifies areas that need to be addressed, such as the lack of flexible learning opportunities; a need to attract more candidates from diverse backgrounds including males, those aged over 25 and people from minority and ethnic backgrounds and to ensure the demand is met with the creation of a high quality skilled workforce.’
An action plan has been developed to guide skills planning and investment, tackle the challenges and help maximise opportunities by strengthening links between organisations to help them work more effectively together.
The SIP follows the Scottish Government’s nationwide recruitment campaign launched by First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
The Scottish Government provisionally estimated up to 11,000 additional workers across all levels of expertise may be required for the expansion to 1,140 hours free early learning and childcare provision for three and four years olds and eligible two year olds.
The focus of the SIP is to provide robust evidence of the current skills base and profile of the sector and give employers and stakeholders a clear direction on what it can do to attract a wider and more diverse range of high quality candidates to fuel its expansion.
The Early Learning and Childcare Skills Investment Plan launched at Tannoch Tots nursery in Tannochside, North Lanarkshire.
Tannoch Tots supports its 17 staff with training and development opportunities and currently has three nursery assistants carrying out modern apprenticeships.
Tannoch Tots Co-director, Carla McGuinness said:
‘Investing in developing the skills of our workforce through apprenticeships is a vital part of how we deliver our service and all levels of the nursery team, from childcare assistants to senior management, are currently undertaking some form of training.’
One of the nursery’s employees, 26 year old Nicolle Walker, started working towards her SVQ level 4 Social Services (Children and Young People) last year and is now manager with responsibility for training her own team. Nicolle said:
‘The skills I’ve gained through my modern apprenticeship have given me the tools and confidence to mentor and support my own trainees, which includes delivering training sessions to help them enhance their knowledge.’
Minister for Childcare and Early Years Maree Todd said:
‘Improving education and closing the attainment gap is this government’s key priority. That is why we are almost doubling the amount of funded nursery education, from 600 to 1,140 hours, as well as the amount invested within the sector, from £420 million to £840 million.
‘The expansion of early learning and childcare is a truly transformational policy and the quality and dedication of our current workforce is key to making Scotland the best place in the world to grow up.’