£1,000 sign-on bonuses to encourage UK citizens to join ECEC
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > UK to give £1,000 sign-on bonuses to shore up the early childhood sector – Is Australia next?

UK to give £1,000 sign-on bonuses to shore up the early childhood sector – Is Australia next?

by Freya Lucas

February 06, 2024

The UK Government has launched a new recruitment campaign across TV, cinema, online, radio and out of home advertising in a bid to give nurseries and early years providers the workers they need and offer more early childhood places for parents.


The campaign will look to boost recruitment across the sector by highlighting the vast array of career routes and progression opportunities offering on-the-job training, flexible hours, and, most importantly, the chance to shape and support young lives. 


Launched by the Department of Education on 2 February, the campaign will also trial f £1,000 cash sign-on bonuses in select areas, and follows the latest data which shows that 102,480 children have been registered for the UK equivalent of Universal Access, which allows parents of children aged three and four years to access 30 hours of free early childhood education per week for the 38 weeks of the school year. 


From April 2024, the scheme will expand to include two year old children, who will be eligible for 15 hours of funded care per week. 


“The fantastic nurseries, childminders and professionals across the childcare (sic.) sector are central to the success of this rollout and our new recruitment campaign will support them in continuing to deliver the flexible and high-quality childcare parents need,” Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan said.


“The “Do Something Big” recruitment campaign is to encourage people to start a career working with small children – one part of this government’s ongoing sector support to ensure providers are in the best position to deliver the places parents need from April and September this year and next,” she added. 


20 local authorities


The £1,000 sign-on bonus is a trial, and will cover 20 local authorities across the UK, giving  new-starters and returners a tax-free cash payment shortly after they take up post.


With research showing that half of all Brits would consider working with preschool children, and that two in five would be more likely to do so if they were given £1,000 cash after joining.


Liam Erens, who works at a nursery in London as part of the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) joined LEYF 2 years ago as part of an all-male cohort of apprentices, and now works full-time as a qualified practitioner.


Mr Erens urged any others considering a career in the sector to pursue it. 


“I’ve always had an interest in childcare but I was concerned about how people may judge me,” he said. 


“At first, my friends commented on how I was “just” looking after children but there is so much more to the role than that. We are keeping children safe, nurturing them, scaffolding their learning and building the foundations for their life.”


Learn more about the campaign here

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