Time for the Scottish government to value the work of early years workers, says Scotland’s education union UNISON

UNISON has today (Tuesday) said that the risks outlined in Audit Scotland’s report into the Scottish Government’s childcare expansion plans should come as no surprise to politicians.

In 2018, UNISON Scotland conducted a comprehensive survey of the numbers being trained to deliver the expansion, with freedom of information requests to every council and college in Scotland, which showed there are just not enough people in colleges or in-work training courses to deliver the promised extra hours.

Audit Scotland’s report, released today, highlights that around half of the building work required is due to be completed over the summer, and about half of the additional ELC staff still need to be recruited. It also said that private and third sector providers – which are expected to deliver over a quarter of the hours – also continue to report significant workforce challenges that threaten their sustainability.

Lorraine Thomson, chair of UNISON Scotland’s Education Issues Group, said:

“We warned the Scottish government at the outset that there was a very high risk there would not be enough qualified staff to deliver the planned expansion. The fundamental issue is that this service is delivered by a highly trained workforce and to recruit and retain staff requires improved pay and terms and conditions across the sector.

“Sadly, it comes as no surprise that the private sector is reporting significant workforce challenges and UNISON has said from the start that the Living Wage is far too low. You can earn the real living wage in many supermarkets without a qualification.

“If the Scottish Government wants to encourage people to undertake training and the responsibilities of delivering a high quality early years service they need to value the vital work that this highly trained and dedicated workforce does.”

Notes to editors

1. Audit Scotland press release ‘ Early learning plans make progress but risks remain’ https://www.audit-scotland.gov.uk/news/early-learning-plans-make-progress-but-risks-remain
2. UNISON survey into early years expansion https://unison-scotland.org/childcare-expansion-will-be-hampered-by-lack-of-staff-says-education-union/
3. UNISON response to Scottish Government on the Early Learning Childcare Service model for 2020 https://unison-scotland.org/wp-content/uploads/ELC-service-model-2018.pdf

For further information contact:

Trisha Hamilton, communications officer, 0141 342 2877

Lorraine Thomson, chair of UNISON Scotland’s Education Issues Group, 07826 903 559