Recruit, Retain, Upskill


With a general election looming just a week away at the time or writing, early years features highly in all the manifestos of all the main political parties, whether it’s pledges to guarantee 30 hours’ funding per week for children from the age of 9 months to opening a 1000 new Sure Start centres.

As identified in Ceeda’s recent annual report, quality and capacity, financial sustainability and workforce challenges are all impacting on the sector, this was borne out by live surveys conducted with the audience throughout the day. Against this background, November saw Hawk Training and Cache hosting a joint event at London’s Crowne Plaza Hotel with the theme - Recruit, Retain, Upskill. The aim of the event was to bring the early years sector together to address common challenges, share best practice, network and get new ideas on recruiting and retaining the best talent to develop a gold standard childcare workforce.

As an Ofsted ‘Outstanding’ training provider, Hawk Training supports almost 2000 learners on apprentice programmes, the largest single group being those working in the early years sector. We work in close partnership with Cache to support the end-point assessment of apprentices on the Level 3 Early Years Educator programme. Hawk’s Managing Director, Crawford Knott, kicked off proceedings and was followed by Julie Hyde and colleagues from Cache who provided an insight into the range of programmes and services available to early years employers and staff. Included in this are the new early years T-Levels which start in September 2020, it became apparent that many in the room hadn’t heard of this key development before and the even

John Warren gave an engaging and often amusing insight into finding and retaining the best childcare talent. John shared his own experiences gained over many years in the sector of hosting network events to find the right staff for your nursery. He emphasised the need to match the person to the job and not to be too fixated on CVs, the importance of social media and understanding your local market to having nursery managers on board to ensure candidates can meet the people they could end up working with and form a relationship from the outset.

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A panel discussion in the afternoon sessions saw Jo Verrill (Ceeda), Julie Hyde (Cache), Ruth Pimentel (Kindred Nurseries) and John Warren taking questions from the floor and discussing everything from Brexit to forging partnerships with education providers and attracting more men into the early years workforce.

June O’Sullivan of the London Early Years Foundation (LEYF) delivered a fantastic closing speech to the floor, giving an in-depth insight into successful, innovative strategies for recruitment, retention and how to deliver high-quality childcare. She covered everything from recruiting childcare professionals from Spain, having a multi-generational workforce (including semi-retired, part-time workers who really enhance the environment with their experience) to hiring a drag queen to add a unique theatrical aspect to storytelling for children!

Delegate feedback from the event was extremely positive with delegates saying that it had made them think about their local reputation in the job market and provided useful tips for revamping their recruitment to include social media and despite Brexit, even looking at hiring staff from abroad. We will certainly look to build on the momentum gathered from the event to support the sector with similar event in future and lobby within Government and the wider sector.

Crawford Knott, Managing Director, Hawk Training