Practitioners leaving childcare to work in retail

As you may know, at Squiggles we pride ourselves on our recruitment process and ability to carefully chose each member of our team.  It is imperative that they have clear childcare knowledge and can demonstrate this practically, as well as good customer service and a sense of 'fitting in' with our existing team.

Each team member must qualify in 2 interviews, one verbal and one practical followed by a decision made by the Leadership team and feedback is sought from the team as a whole.

Once recruited, an induction day is booked and then the induction process is continued over the next few months until each area has been thoroughly discussed, revisited and visually checked and signed off by a senior member of the team.


I recently read this article and agreed with the struggle to balance fee costs with the need to ensure we retain our high quality team (along with other costs that increase each year for example, rent, gas, electric, food, nappies).  As you have read above, we invest highly in each team member and ensure that we offer the support and guidance to continually thrive and develop their career. 

This article highlights the temptation that practitioners have when finances become more important in their career choice and the difficulties as a nursery that we face.


A quarter of childcare workers say unsatisfactory pay in their job is the main reason for leaving the early years sector, a new report by the Education Policy Institute reveals.

The wages of early years practitioners are falling but retail workers are rising, according to the report: 'The early years workforce: A comparison with retail workers', which drew on data from the Labour Force Survey.

The real wages of retail workers (Level 2 and Level 3) were higher in 2018 than (Level 2 NVQ) childcare workers, with early years practitioners earning 22p per hour less than Level 2 qualified retail workers.

As nurseries face rising financial costs and the threat of shutting down completely, childcare workers are at risk of poverty with 44.5 per cent of childcare workers in England claiming state benefits or tax credits.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: “You can’t blame these dedicated professionals for swapping the pressure and long hours of the early years for more pay and less stress working in a supermarket.

"This is the fault of government and, if ministers are serious about the early years, then they need to accept the reasons behind why people are leaving the sector and start funding childcare properly."

Childcare workers’ real wages fell (between 2013 and 2018), from £8.59 to £8.19 per hour but retail wages rose from £7.34 to £7.75 per hour - leaving a wage gap of only 44p last year.

Mr Leitch added: “Most childcare providers tell us they’re struggling to break-even, many are making a loss and I hear every week from those who have been forced to close because of underfunding.

"It’s no wonder that childcare professionals are underpaid if that’s the climate in the sector: there simply isn’t enough money."

The Education Policy Institute’s report called efforts to improve the quality of provision and support for the early years workforce as ‘erratic’.

The report criticised the government for not delivering on its commitments detailed in the 2017 Workforce Strategy.

It stated the government 'could have addressed some of the key issues for the sector', such as the graduate feasibility study of amending regulations to enable those with Early Years Professional Status and Early Years Teacher Status to lead nursery classes in maintained settings.

Stella Ziolkowski, the director of quality and training at National Day Nurseries Association, said: "We know from our research that qualified early years practitioners are moving out of working in childcare to occupations such as retail for long term prospects in terms of pay.

"The Government cannot think that there is sufficient funding to deliver the 2, 3 and 4-year-old offer, when salaries form the majority of outgoing costs for nurseries.

"This research clearly demonstrates an inability for employers to increase salaries. Childcare providers want to pay staff well and reward their skills and experience but as these figures show, they are less and less able to compete in the labour market. In some instances this is causing business failure and nursery closures."


Article from day Nurseries online.

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