I believe it is important for service providers to have flexibility in staffing arrangements and in how they structure their organisations. However, I also believe that a career structure will be necessary to the further professionalisation of the sector and to making careers in the sector more attractive.
Establishing clear and supported career pathways is important both in improving recruitment and retention of staff, and in enhancing practitioners' continuing professional development, both of which support better outcomes for children.
Putting in place a career structure will involve giving clarity on the different roles in services, and on the tasks and qualification requirements for those roles. It will also involve identifying - and supporting - career pathways for individuals to progress their careers within the sector. These are all elements that will form part of the Workforce Plan that I will publish shortly.
Work began in 2019 on developing a Workforce Plan for the sector. The process has involved extensive engagement with sector representatives, as well as a public consultation process . The Workforce Plan will set out actions to achieve related commitments in First 5, including a graduate-led workforce by 2028, development of a career framework, a national infrastructure for continuing professional development, and strengthening leadership development opportunities.
Another element of a career structure is rates of pay that recognise the value of the work, with higher rates of pay for those with greater responsibility or higher qualifications. While the State is not the employer and I have no power to set wage rates, the process I began last December has led to the recent establishment of a sectoral Joint Labour Committee. Supported by the Core Funding stream I announced in Budget 2022, there is now a real prospect of improvement in pay rates in the sector through the Joint Labour Committee.