The South West is struggling to recruit childcare workers according to new analysis by the trades union umbrella body the TUC.
Every South West council who responded to a survey said childcare providers in their area were having difficulty recruiting childcare workers with the right skills and experience to do the job, and – 78 percent of local authorities described it as very difficult.
The analysis comes as the TUC launches a call for a new care workforce strategy to tackle the staffing crisis facing both childcare and social care in England.
It says that both the childcare and social care sectors face a staffing crisis stemming from endemic low pay and insecure work, which hits their predominantly female workforces hard.
Like the childcare sector, the TUC says, the social care sector is also struggling to recruit – the latest figures show there are currently 152,000 vacancies in social care, meaning one in 10 jobs are not filled.
TUC Regional Secretary Ines Lage said: “We will all rely on care at some point in our lives, whether that’s childcare for our kids or social care for ourselves or our family members.
“The care our loved ones get must be of the highest standard. But that’s only possible if jobs in care are decent and paid well enough to attract and keep the right people.
“Childcare and social care must stop being Cinderella sectors. Demand for care is rising. Caring is skilled work, and the overwhelmingly female workforce deserves decent pay and conditions.
“Ministers must urgently introduce a £15 an hour minimum wage for childcare and social care workers.
“They also need to bring in sector collective bargaining and establish new sector partnership arrangements to sup skill care workers and stop the race to the bottom on pay and conditions. And ministers should require employers to end the use of zero-hours contracts and pay decent sick pay to all workers.”
The TUC says the situation is having a huge negative impact on children and adults receiving care and – in the case of social care – placing huge strain on the NHS.
The analysis also revealed:
- More than three in five childcare assistants and practitioners earn less than the real Living Wage (£10.90 an hour).
- More than three in five social care workers and senior care workers earn less than the real Living Wage.
- Social care workers earn only around 65 percent of the median salary for all employees (£21,500 per annum compared to £33,000).
- And childcare practitioners earn only 56 percent of the median salary for all employees (£18,400), while childcare assistants earn 58 percent of the median wage (£19,000).
This TUC says this leaves many care workers and their families struggling to survive, and that more than one in four (28%) of children with a parent working in social care are growing up below the poverty line.
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