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European Education Area

Quality education and training for all

Early childhood education and care in Europe: How to recruit and train qualified staff?

20 May 2021

Supporting the initial stages of ECEC staff’s professional journey

On 20 May, the European Commission hosted an online event on early childhood education and care (ECEC) in Europe.

This webinar is part of the series ‘Early childhood education and care in Europe’, initiated by Commissioner Gabriel at the launch event on 3 March 2021. It discussed ECEC staff in Europe, their recruitment and initial training.

Background

At the ECEC in Europe launch event on 3 March 2021, European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, presented the report on how to recruit, train and motivate well qualified staff.

The ET 2020 Working Group on early childhood education and care published guidelines that examine the variety of professions and profiles working in ECEC settings, the need to recognise the value of their work, how to make the professions attractive and how well-trained staff contribute to high-quality ECEC.

The EU Quality Framework for ECEC, annexed to the 2019 Council Recommendation for High-Quality ECEC Systems, recognises in its second principle the importance of ECEC staff.

Summary of the discussions

Michael Teutsch, Head of Unit for schools and multilingualism at the Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC) began the webinar by recalling that providing all children with quality ECEC is a European Union (EU) policy priority, which cannot be achieved without well-trained professionals.

Attracting and retaining staff in the ECEC profession 

Géraldine Libreau, Policy Officer in the unit for Schools and multilingualism at DG EAC presented challenges across Europe to recruit and retain staff to work in the ECEC sector and the multiple causes which might explain these difficulties. 

Stig Lund, representing the European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE), and Viktoria Szűcs, representing the European Public Service Union (EPSU), discussed which issues need to be tackled to raise attractiveness of the profession. 

Ms Szűcs highlighted the importance of better valuing the profession and recognising the educational and inclusive function of ECEC. This in turn, highlights the need to recruit well-trained staff and to improve salaries and working conditions. 

Mr Lund underlined how an unfavourable child-staff ratio and the lack of child-free time may influence retention of staff in the sector. He also presented an example of how providing interesting career opportunities can encourage staff to keep working in ECEC.

Ms Libreau presented a range of creative recruitment strategies which may help to encourage people with different backgrounds and qualifications to work in the sector.

Lieve de Bosscher, Director for Childcare services of the City of Ghent, explained the various strategies put in place by the city, such as training parents as childcare workers.

Improving initial training strategies to raise the attractiveness of the profession and the quality of education and care delivered

Mr Teutsch emphasised the need to provide quality education and training to future and new staff in ECEC and presented the mapping of competences proposed in the report.  

Many factors contribute to quality initial training, one of which is to recognise the importance of work-based learning. 

Ms Libreau presented the benefit of developing induction while Ms de Bosscher and Brigita Mark from the Slovenian Ministry of Education explained how such periods were organised for childcare workers in Ghent and for Slovenian kindergarten assistants and teachers.

The discussion also highlighted the very important role of ECEC leaders, the whole range of their responsibilities and competences and the need to ensure that they receive adequate initial training of high quality. 

Karen Boldt Aagaard from the Danish Union of Early Childhood and Youth Educators (BUPL) presented the programme developed by this trade union and the Danish association of local governments to encourage ECEC core practitioners to take on leadership responsibilities.

Programme

Welcome

  • Michael Teutsch, Head of Unit, Schools and Multilingualism, Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture (DG EAC), European Commission

How to attract and retain staff in the ECEC profession?

Why is it difficult to recruit and retain ECEC staff?

  • Géraldine Libreau, Policy Officer, Schools and multilingualism, DG EAC, European Commission 

Raising attractiveness of the profession: Valuing the profession, improving working conditions and career opportunities

  • Stig Lund, European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE)
  • Viktoria Szűcs, European Public Service Union (EPSU)

Creative recruitment strategies

  • Géraldine Libreau, Policy Officer, Schools and multilingualism, DG EAC, European Commission
  • Lieve de Bosscher, City of Ghent / Eurocities

Question and answers*

Improving initial training strategies can improve both the attractiveness of the profession and the quality of the education and care delivered

Introduction

  • Michael Teutsch, Head of Unit, Schools and multilingualism, DG EAC, European Commission

Importance of work-based learning: a focus on induction periods

  • Géraldine Libreau, Policy Officer, Schools and multilingualism, DG EAC, European Commission
  • Lieve de Bosscher, City of Ghent / Eurocities
  • Brigita Mark, Ministry of Education, Slovenia

Importance of quality initial training: a focus on leaders

  • Géraldine Libreau, Policy Officer, Schools and multilingualism, DG EAC, European Commission
  • Karen Boldt Aagaard, International Adviser, Danish Union of Early Childhood and Youth Educators (BUPL)

Questions and answers

Conclusion

* Questions can be asked in advance by writing to EAC-ET2020-WG-ECEC@ec.europa.eu or during the event via Erasmus+ on Facebook and Twitter.  

Follow the event online

Watch the event recording.

Further events will be organised throughout 2021, including on continuous professional development (CPD) for ECEC staff. Stay tuned for more!

You can also follow the event series at

Towards a European Education Area

Early childhood education and care policy has a key role to play in the Commission’s vision to achieve a European Education Area by 2025, as outlined in the 2020 Communication. One of the dimensions of this vision is on teachers and trainers. 

In particular, the Commission will support Member States in addressing teacher shortages and boosting the diversification and attractiveness of teaching careers. 

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