REC Childcare, the REC’s specialist sector group for recruitment agencies who deal with childcare staff, domestic workers, nannies and au pairs, met with senior officials of the Department for Education earlier this month to discuss the government’s flagship childminder agency proposals. The group represents the majority of providers active in this sector who ensure families, nurseries and other childcare centres have suitably skilled, properly vetted staff when they need them.
All of those present agreed there needs to be a rapid expansion of the childcare workforce to cope with a rapidly expanding population across the UK; the UK had the highest number of births for 40 years recorded in mid-2012. At the same time as this rise, the Department for Education highlighted that childminder numbers have declined over the last two decades, with fewer younger childminders entering the workforce. The number of registered childminders has almost halved between 1992 and 2011, from 106,000 to around 57,000. It is clear new solutions are needed to deal with the problem.
Whilst there has been much controversy surrounding childminder agencies, we believe their launch is a positive step. It illustrates that the government is finally starting to take action in the important area of childcare provision by developing innovative models of supply to meet the UK childcare gap.