Early years leaders support calls to recruit more men to sector


Childcare leaders are backing widespread calls for employers to take “positive action” to recruit more men into the sector.

Just three per cent of early years workers in England and Wales are men. Picture: Adobe Stock
Just three per cent of early years workers in England and Wales are men. Picture: Adobe Stock

They are endorsing a new guide, produced by the Fatherhood Institute, which suggests ways in which early years organisations can create a more representative workforce.

The Men In The Early Years (MITEY) Guide to Recruiting Men into Early Years Education, funded by the Department for Education, says the early years sector has one of the lowest levels of male participation of any workforce in the UK.

Only three per cent of early years workers in England and Wales are male, rising only slightly to four per cent in Scotland.

In contrast, 11 per cent of men are nurses, 14 per cent are social workers and 15 per cent are primary school teachers.

Practical measures outlined in the guide to boost numbers of male workers include replacing “feminised” job titles such as “nursery nurse” with more gender-neutral terms such as “early years practitioner”.

It also suggests including “positive action” statements, images of men and male case studies in job adverts to reinforce that male are applicants are welcome.

Further steps include holding open days targeted at attracting male recruits as well as promoting vacancies via fathers using early years provisions.

The guide draws on a recent report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, which identified the lack of gender diversity as a key factor in the shortage of early years education staff across developed countries.

Dr Jeremy Davies, head of communications at the Fatherhood Institute and the guide’s author, said it provided “simple ways” that early years organisations could show men they were valued as professional caregivers and educators.

“For too long there’s been an acceptance that men aren’t interested in this field. That’s not good enough. We know this isn’t an easy nut to crack but we need to do everything we can to pull them in,” he said.

The National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said it would be sharing the guide with its members across the UK.

Stella Ziolkowski, NDNA’s director of quality and training, said: “It is packed full of good ideas and helpful suggestions for early years settings to be able to use in order to try to redress the gender balance in the workforce.”

Early Education chief executive Beatrice Merrick also welcomed the new resource.

“We call on all our members to redouble their efforts to attract and welcome more men to work with our youngest children,” she said.

The London Early Years Foundation issued a call last year for a national advisory group to monitor progress in recruiting men in childcare.

It set out a four-point plan to address shortages of male workers that included a professional development programme to recognise contributions from both genders to childcare services.

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