Headlines: August 30th, 2007

A big recruitment drive is to begin in Wales to fill thousands of new jobs for child carers, play-workers and classroom assistants. At the same time the skills of existing workers are to be upgraded and they will be helped to gain higher skills and qualifications. The recruitment drive has been launched by the Welsh Assembly’s Minister for Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills, Jane Hutt.

There are already more than 26,000 people in Wales working in careers helping children to play, learn and grow but the Minister said there were now more opportunities than ever to train and gain professional qualifications. Demand in the sector, she added, was rising rapidly, partly because of Assembly initiatives such as Flying Start which is providing free childcare to families in disadvantaged areas, and the Foundation Phase scheme, which will create around 2,300 new vacancies for classroom assistants from September next year.

The success of both initiatives, she said, depended on the quality and dedication of staff. “It is vital that we get this right. The early years of a child’s life are the most important in shaping their future development, so we are making a significant investment in staff and training to ensure that we have the right people,” she added. Boosting the level of recognised qualifications and skills within the sector would drive home the message, she said, that working with children was a desirable career option with opportunities to progress.

The recruitment campaign includes television, radio and press advertisements, supporting articles, outdoor advertising and the publication of a comprehensive guide to different careers and training opportunities in childcare, play and early years work. There will also be a website with information on careers and training as well as case studies of people working in the sector.