Childcare professionals can earn more working in their local supermarket than in their local creche, according to Early Childhood Ireland.
The representative body for 3,800 childcare providers nationwide says chronic under-investment in the sector has caused major staffing challenges which are impacting on the sustainability of services
The organisation held a pre-Budget event in Dublin today with early-years providers from throughout Ireland, as well as the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone and other members of the Oireachtas.
According to Early Childhood Ireland, the average wage in childcare services is €11.93 an hour, with half of early-years staff only getting part-time work.
Nationally, 21.5% of those in employment are working part-time, while the living wage is currently €11.90 an hour.
Staff turnover is also above the national average of 13% as it is 28% in the childcare sector.
— Early Childhood Ire (@EarlyChildhdIRL) October 4, 2018
Frances Byrne, Director of Policy and Advocacy with Early Childhood Ireland, said: “Despite the incredible commitment of our members, our sector is crippled because of historical, chronic underinvestment.
"Due to the lack of investment over many years, our providers cannot afford to pay competitive salaries or offer job security. The result is that skilled professionals are leaving the sector in their droves. They can earn more working in their local supermarket than in their local childcare service.
“The current staffing challenges are compounded by the fact that school-leavers are unlikely to consider a career in childcare. They are aware of the conditions in the sector and know they can get more pay and greater job security elsewhere.
“Budget 2019 presents government with an opportunity to continue to address years of chronic under-investment.
Early Childhood Ireland is calling on Government to commit to increasing budget allocation for childcare by a minimum of €250 million – approximately 0.1% of GDP – every year over the next five years.
“The failings in our childcare sector have severe knock-on implications for our economy and our society. Without adequate investment, these failings cannot be addressed," she said.