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What we're doing to recruit more early years workers including trialling a £1k sign-on bonus

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We’re taking important steps to deliver the expanded  30 hours free childcare scheme for working parents from when their child turns nine-months-old until they start school, saving them £6,500 a year. 

Over 100,000 parents of two-year-olds have already registered their children on the system to benefit from the first stage of the roll out that entitles them to 15 hours free childcare from April 2024. 

To prepare for the new offer, we’ve invested an extra £200million in funding to the sector in September 2023 and promised over £400million for 2024-25 to uplift hourly rates for the early year entitlements.  

We’re confident in the strength of our childcare market to deliver the expanded offer, making sure there’s a place for every child that needs it. 

We’re also trialling a new recruitment offer to increase the number of staff nurseries and early years providers need to offer more childcare places to parents. New recruits will receive a £1,000 bonus when they start their first role in childcare. 

You’ll also see our ‘Do Something Big’ recruitment adverts on TVs, at the cinema, hear them on the radio and just generally out and about.  

We’re making the biggest investment by a UK government into childcare in history, doubling the amount we expect to spend over the next few years from around £4 billion to around £8 billion each year.  

We explain everything you need to know.  

Who is entitled to the £1,000 bonus?  

Our £4.9 million financial incentives pilot scheme will provide up to 3,000 new starters and returners with a £1,000 tax-free cash payment shortly after they take up a job working in early years and childcare.  

The pilot will run from April to December 2024 and this is the list of Local Authorities invited to take part:   

  • Birmingham   
  • Blackpool   
  • Halton   
  • Islington   
  • Knowsley   
  • Newcastle Upon Tyne   
  • North East Lincolnshire   
  • Salford   
  • Sandwell   
  • Wolverhampton   
  • Cumberland   
  • Darlington   
  • Doncaster   
  • Kingston upon Hull, City of   
  • Middlesbrough   
  • Northumberland   
  • Sefton   
  • Walsall   
  • Wirral   

They have been chosen to take part in the pilot based on the greatest need for staff to deliver places in the local area.  

To be eligible, staff must be new to the profession, or returning after a break of at least 6 months, and spending at least 70 percent of their time working directly with children. 

What qualifications do I need to work in early years and how do I get a job? 

You don’t need a qualification to start your career in early years and childcare but it’s something that nurseries and pre-schools often look for and there are roles where you will need one.  

Read more about early years and childcare careers, including qualifications requirements and how to find roles in your area here

If you want to work as a childminder, you’ll need relevant first aid and childcare training.  Check what else you’ll need to become a childminder. 

How are you supporting staff to stay in a career in early years and childcare? 

Those who work in early education and childcare settings have a significant impact on our youngest children – that’s what makes the job so rewarding.   

To ensure staff are able to progress in their careers, we’re continuing to invest the £180 million we set aside to provide a package of training, qualifications, expert guidance and targeted support.  

We’re also working closely with the sector to explore which policies would be most effective in increasing career opportunities including creating more routes to progress into senior early years roles.    

We have also increased how much funding early years providers receive so they are able to recruit and retain the staff the need.  

And to give providers more choice over how they operate, last year we announced a package of changes to the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) framework.  

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