Massive staff turnover in Ireland’s early years sector left over a quarter of services with staff vacancies last year up from 21% the year before. The stark findings of the most recent Pobal ‘Early Years Sector Profile’ shows an average staff turnover rate of 25%, rising to 34% in Donegal.
Fórsa, which represents many staff in the sector, says these high turnover figures are being driven by poor wages. The report also puts the average hourly wage of early years staff at €12.17.
The picture is even bleaker for early years assistants, who account for 48% of all staff working with children. They earn just €11.20 an hour on average. Pobal places qualification levels among the five main determinants of wages in the sector.
Fórsa organiser Katie Morgan said the findings supported the union’s view that professionalisation of the sector and increased access to training for early years staff would lead to better pay and better services.
“There needs to be recognition of the important and difficult work that early years staff do. Staff need to be valued and rewarded for their work and the workforce needs stability, just as our young children need stability. Nobody benefits from the instability that comes from high staff turnover. Better pay rates would address the problem, as well as the much-needed professionalisation of the sector,” she said.
The report also noted a significant increase – from 58% to 70% - in the proportion of staff who have completed Children First training over the past three years.