Childcare training a priority

March 13, 1998

CASH to train an estimated 100,000 new childcare workers must be made available if the government is to realise its plans for a revolution in childcare, experts have said.

The government has already announced a Pounds 300 million plan to create 30,000 new out-of-school children's clubs over the next five years. And Chancellor Gordon Brown is expected to help create demand for the creches and clubs by announcing a multi-million pound subsidy for parents seeking childcare in his budget next week.

Anne Longford, director of the Kids Club Network, said that the plans will mean at least a tenfold increase in the number of childcare professionals, from 10,000 to around 100,000.

"There is a need for huge shake-up in childcare training," she said. "Only around 50 colleges provide it, making the availability of the training dreadful. We are encouraging the government to make it worth colleges' while to provide training in childcare and they need resources."

The government expects around 50,000 people to train as childcare workers under the New Deal for the long-term unemployed and it has announced Pounds 5 million extra money for colleges to run childcare courses next year.

But Association of Colleges director John Brennan said the resource implications for further education were still too "vague". "There is huge potential to expand colleges' output of training courses, but as far as I know there is no detail about the funding and the timescale," he said.

Lucy Lloyd, policy manger at the Daycare Trust, said that additional resources were needed not just for training new staff but to encourage existing workers to gain formal qualifications. A green paper, A National Childcare Strategy, is expected after Easter. A spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment said: "Training is expensive."

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