Factors affecting working and learning

As competition for employees increases, attracting and retaining employees will become a challenge. An important part of job quality is the opportunities that employers provide for professional development.

Need for additional skills

A skilled and competent child care workforce is critical to providing high quality child care that benefits children’s early development and learning. The challenge for the sector is to increase the skills and education of the child care workforce to improve the quality of early learning and care that children experience.

Specific educational requirements for working in the sector vary among the provinces and territories. Most jurisdictions require a certain number of centre-based child care staff to have formal post-secondary early childhood qualifications, usually an ECE certificate or diploma from a community college. There are minimal requirements in all jurisdictions for caregivers in regulated family child care.

Funding for employee training and development is a concern

Adequate funding is a common concern in the early childhood education and care sector. While the need to use resources to provide employee training and development increases, the resources to do so may not be available. In fact, funding for training and development may be one of the first items to be eliminated in times of financial uncertainty.

Job security

People constantly hear that they can expect to have many different employers and even different careers during their work life. In the ECEC sector, in many provinces, job security is not an issue.

Limited opportunities for advancement

Most ECEC organizations have a relatively flat organizational structure. This means that there is little room for promotion. Employees and organizations need to embrace the idea that moving “up” is not the only way to be satisfied with one’s work. An alternative is to create challenges for employees in their current position or a similar position.

An effective – and often forgotten – source to provide training and development is the ECEC organization’s staff.  Staff can learn from their colleagues. For example, less experienced employees can learn from more experienced employees; a few employees can participate in external workshops and, upon their return, provide training to their colleagues.  A “skills inventory” can be created and employees recognized as they work their way through the inventory.