Canavan Byrne take a proactive approach to chronic early years staffing issues

Canavan Byrne | AIBF
Angela Canavan, MD at Canavan & Byrne.

Staff shortages in the early years childcare sector have reached “chronic” levels according to industry expert Angela Canavan.

Angela is the founder of Canavan Byrne a market-leading HR company that has established itself as the go-to provider of compliance, policy and best practice solutions in the early years sector.

She told the All-Ireland Business Times that early years services were having trouble finding suitable staff even before the pandemic arrived.

“Services are crying out for staff at the moment”, she said. “Some services have had to close rooms because they can’t get staff to work them.”

“If you were to talk to any provider, that will be the biggest challenge and biggest concern at the moment is just the lack of staff.”

“The situation has become chronic.”

Angela explained that while early years providers were allocated extra government support supported through the pandemic, staff shortages have remained because it is an industry in transition.

“There has been significant work done to try and professionalise early years and establish it as a graduate led industry but the difficulty is that it is still relatively low paid.”

“Because of the pay, many graduates with associated early years qualifications will go back to college and do primary school teaching or other related courses.”

Angela told the All Ireland Business Times that her company has responded to the crisis through a programme that, when launched, will aim to attract highly qualified early years professionals, from abroad, for Irish vacancies, to help fill this gap.

One country the company will target is Spain.

She explained that she is targeting the Spanish market because of its abundance of highly qualified early years professionals.

“One part of our business is a jobs board where we do some matchmaking between providers and jobseekers,” she explained.

“We are focusing on this at the moment with an exciting plan to extend our reach to across the waters and in doing so, assisting with the current crisis.”

“There are a lot of highly qualified early years, educators and professionals from Spain who are actively looking for jobs in Ireland.”

“We’re working in that market to try and bring some of these professionals into Ireland so that they will be able to service those positions.”

While an influx of highly educated professionals from overseas can only benefit the industry, Angela explained that the work must be done to make the industry a more attractive option for all.

Angela’s proactive approach to the largest issue facing the early years sector is typical of the way Canavan Byrne operates.

When early years services were re-opening after COVID-19 lockdown, there was widespread panic and overwhelm among providers who were unsure about how to proceed under the ever changing rules and regulations.

Angela’s team responded by producing a toolkit for providers containing a road map for reopening with detailed information on all the key policy points right through to government guidelines.

“We try to be ahead of the posse!” Angela said. “We try to predict what the issues are going to be and provide practical solutions that help people go forward.”

“Early years is a highly regulated industry and providers have to comply with stringent regulations but they also have huge funding requirements.” “There is significant compliance, in this sector, and if my team and I can make that easier, then we’re doing our jobs.”

Angela has been named a thought leader in the early years sector by the All-Ireland Business Foundation in recognition of her contribution to the industry.

Reacting to the announcement she said: “I am thrilled to be recognised as a thought leader by the All-Ireland Business Foundation.”

This accomplishment would not have been achieved without the support of my brilliant team who work very hard to make sure that we provide a quality service to our clients.

To learn more about Canavan Byrne, visit their All-Star showcase page here.