What challenges do nurseries face in 2022 and what role can tech play in helping to overcome them?
The last two years have thrown up many new challenges for the early years (EY) sector – while also exacerbating existing ones.
In a piece with NMT, our CEO, Chris Reid, explored some of the hurdles facing EY professionals in 2022, and how technology can be ‘plugged in’ to help alleviate some of these stresses and strains.
If you missed the original article, you can catch up below…
A sector at breaking point
It was only at the start of 2020 that the ‘A Workforce in Crisis: Saving Our Early Years’ report – from the Early Years Workforce Commission – was released and a member stated that ‘immediate intervention and urgent action’ was required to prevent the sector from collapse.
The truth is that while the last couple of years have been challenging for the EY sector due to the pandemic, difficulties surrounding government funding, staffing, and business sustainability have always existed – they’ve just been even more magnified in recent times.
The report also outlined that a clear, coherent, and holistic strategy from the Government is required to support the sector in building up the current high levels of quality, along with suitable investment to future-proof it.
This was further compounded by research carried out by the Education Policy Institute, which found that some of the main barriers to a stable EY workforce are low income and high workload and responsibilities, to name a couple. And these are all challenges which still prevail today.
Implementing technology to solve administrative headaches
It’s no secret that heavy workloads are one of the biggest challenges in the industry – managers and practitioners are not only responsible for developing the children in their care but optimising the business so that its operations are sustainable – and this can often carry lots of paperwork with it.
The introduction of the new EYFS framework in September 2021 and the Government’s Development Matters guidance was a welcomed change in this respect, as it placed less focus on paperwork for staff and more attention on spending time developing children.
However, the truth is that for many paper-based – and some digital – settings, the administrative burden is still very much a reality.
But this is where having the right tech in place can really make a difference.
Nursery management software, such as Connect Childcare, that can manage complex staffing requirements, automate monthly invoicing, optimise child ratios, and select weightings and suitability — from one centralised record – eliminates the need for multiple spreadsheets and helps to maximise resource allocation. With seamless integration, it also means that when payments are in, staff don’t need to spend hours reconciling the system from bank statements, the tech simply takes care of it.
In 2022, the rapid digitisation of our world will undoubtedly continue, and it’s important that the sophisticated and intuitive technology both staff and parents use in their personal lives, is mirrored in their professional environment too – otherwise this could contribute to causing feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction.
Using technology to attract and retain staff
When management software is at the heart of a childcare setting, providers tend to experience a host of operational, social, and financial benefits. And in turn, this can have a positive effect on company perception and attracting new talent.
Recruitment and retention in the EY have long been topics of discussion, with various reports signalling the high turnover in the sector and the difficulty in recruiting Level 3 roles – but how can going digital help?
Technology should be implemented to assist and augment the work that nursery staff carry out. It should automate and simplify long-winded processes and make recording milestone moments and communicating with parents an easy, enjoyable task. When this is done correctly, employees can feel not only supported but empowered in their roles.
For example, bridging the comms gap with parents helps to close the loop and create a more holistic approach to children’s education, while also enabling staff to share expertise and see it implemented in the home.
Furthermore, if educators have more hours in the day to dedicate to what they’re truly passionate about – supporting child learning – and progressing their personal development, all this helps them to feel more fulfilled and valued in their position.
Of course, digital solutions alone don’t have all the answers and can’t address each of the sector’s challenges around funding and development, but they can assist on the road to getting there.
Ultimately, together with committed professionals and engaged parents, digital solutions can offer some much-needed support to the UK’s childcare sector in 2022 and beyond – helping to save time, foster development, and create a more sustainable business model for the future.Find out more about Connect Childcare’s nursery management software or book a demo.