Thinking of working in ECEC in England? Grass isn’t always greener, EPI report says.

Thinking of working in ECEC in England? Grass isn’t always greener, EPI report says.

by Freya Lucas

January 18, 2019

A detailed analysis of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce in England has been released, showing many areas of overlap with the Australian ECEC context, including low pay, high levels of job insecurity, and trouble attracting high quality educators to the sector.


The new research, from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) provides a detailed analysis of England’s ECEC workforce, comparing conditions and characteristics of childcare workers with those in other categories such as hairdressers and beauticians. Comparisons are also made with the female working population across all employment categories, and with teachers of both genders.


The report found that a large portion of those employed in ECEC are struggling financially, that the English ECEC sector is increasingly relying on people newly arrived to the UK to staff their centres, and that the sector struggles to attract men to the ECEC profession – all parallels with the Australian experience.


Key findings of the report are as follows:


  • A large proportion of childcare workers are struggling financially – The childcare workforce earned an average hourly pay of £8.20 ($14.80 AUD)  in 2018 – around 40 per cent less than the average female worker.


  • Childcare providers frequently report difficulties in hiring staff, particularly well qualified staff that have full ‘Early Years Educator’ status (level 3 qualification). The numbers of staff with this qualification have been erratic, standing at 65.9 per cent in 2013, 73 per cent in 2016, and 68.3 per cent in 2018, for nursery nurses and assistants.


  • In 2018, more than 37,000 EU nationals were working in childcare in England, totalling 5.1 per cent of all workers. This is a similar contribution to EU nationals in the NHS (63,000 workers and 5.6 per cent of staff)


  • Just 1.8 per cent of nursery nurses and assistants, and 4 per cent of childminders, are male.


The report, sponsored by the Nuffield Foundation can be read in full here.