A recent survey of student Early Years educators, carried out by the SIPTU Big Start campaign, has found that one third intend to leave the sector, with low pay the main issue forcing them into a change of career or into working abroad. The survey indicated that 94% of Early Years student educators do not believe the current wages available to them in the sector are fair. Of the 945 people surveyed, over half are currently working in the sector as well as studying and of these 47% are earning below the living wage of €12.30 per hour. Just under 90% of students said that they do not feel that Early Years education is adequately recognised by the Government with many planning to pursue a career in primary education or to move abroad on completion of their studies.  Early Years education student, Aoife Ryan, said: “The fact that a significant portion of educated, knowledgeable and experienced students are exiting the Early Years workforce every year should be a huge warning sign to the Government that the sector needs serious and immediate change. The sector is in crisis and until the Government addresses its concerns, these problems will continue to drive educators away until it collapses.” SIPTU Organiser, Sabrina Ryan, said: “In its ‘First 5’ strategy, the Government has stated that it aims for the Early Years sector to be graduate led by 2028. However, this is an unrealistic target unless Early Years professionals begin to be recognised for the vital role they play and this can only be done by providing them with professional pay and conditions.” She added: “A publicly funded model of Early Years education and childcare which includes a mechanism for ensuring professional pay is the first step in creating a high-quality, affordable service that works for families and those working in the sector.” The Early Years Student Survey was carried out in March 2021. The study received a total 945 responses from students studying various childhood education courses throughout Ireland, ranging from Fetac Level 5 to PHD Level 10. Click Early Years Student Survey 2021 to read the full report.