Every region of England caught in childcare recruitment crisis – survey

Every English region is struggling to recruit childcare workers, according to analysis by the TUC using Coram Family and Childcare data.

Nearly all (95%) of English councils who responded to a survey told Coram that childcare providers in their area were having difficulty recruiting childcare workers with the right skills and experience to do the job – and eight in 10 local authorities described it as ‘very difficult’.


The analysis suggests childcare recruitment is most difficult in the East of England, the West Midlands and the North East – where every single council said childcare providers found it ‘very difficult’ to recruit sufficient staff the with the right skills and experience.

And every single one of the local authorities responding in the East of England, the North East, the North West, the South West, the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside described recruitment of childcare workers as ‘difficult’.

The TUC is calling for a new care workforce strategy to tackle the staffing crisis facing both childcare and social care in England, blaming endemic low pay and insecure work which hits their predominantly female workforces hard.

Like the childcare sector, 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 aren’t filled.

The TUC said this had a huge negative impact on children and adults receiving care and – in the case of social care – placed huge strain on the NHS.

Further analysis by the TUC shows:

  • 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 percentof the median salary for all employees (£21,500 per annum compared to £33,000)
  • Childcare practitioners earn only 56% of the median salary for all employees (£18,400), while childcare assistants earn 58% of the median wage (£19,000)

The TUC said this left many care workers and their families struggling to survive. More than one in four children with a parent working in social care are growing up below the poverty line.

TUC general secretary, Paul Nowak, 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 up 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.”

Head of Coram Family and Childcare, Megan Jarvie, said: ‘Childcare is a vital part of our infrastructure – it enables parents to work and helps to boost children’s outcomes.

‘But achieving these outcomes is reliant on the skills and commitment of the workforce, so it is really concerning that we are seeing struggles to recruit right across the country.

‘Action is needed to support the workforce to make sure that every child is able to access high quality early education and childcare.’

Image: Nick Fewings

More on this topic:

Government ‘has more work to do’ on landmark childcare reforms – report

Government childcare plans will disproportionately benefit better-off families, report shows


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top