The annual SIPTU survey of staff in the childcare sector has found that a majority have experienced increased stress and burn out issues due to a shortage of qualified workers in their services, with low pay identified as the main issue preventing recruitment. The annual SIPTU Early Years Staff Survey, published today (Thursday, 20th April) found that of non-managerial staff, 81% agreed that staff shortages are a problem in their workplace. The top three consequences were ‘stress and burnout’ (73%), ‘increased workload’(68%) and ‘not enough time for non-contact work’ (61%).  A majority of managers who had to recruit staff in the last 12 months described it as ‘extremely difficult’ with increasing workload for existing staff identified as the biggest consequence of the staffing crisis. They identified low pay as either the ‘biggest obstacle’ (38%) or a ‘significant obstacle’ (39%). A majority of services also reported that they currently have a staff vacancy. SIPTU Head of Organising, Darragh O’Connor, said: “The Early Years sector is caught in a vicious cycle. Stress and low pay are pushing people out of their profession, which in turn increases the workload and stress on the remaining staff, driving more people to leave. “The survey clearly shows that low pay is by far the biggest obstacle to recruiting and retaining staff. Until this is addressed, the staffing crisis will continue with real consequences for children, parents, staff and services.” He added: “Between 2011 and 2021, over 52,000 childcare qualifications were obtained in Ireland. There is no shortage of qualified childcare workers, there is a shortage of adequate pay.” Early Years Manager, Lynnette Monk, said: “I dread the thought of any staff leaving our service. Hiring is so difficult now we could be short staffed for months. If we can’t reach our staff to child ratio, it means we have to reduce the number of children we can care for.”