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Finland’s Six Largest Cities Call for Action to Address Shortage of Early Childhood Education Personnel

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The six largest cities in Finland are calling for action from the new government to address the shortage of qualified personnel in early childhood education. Currently, there is a shortage of over 2,600 early childhood education teachers and social workers in these cities, which will only worsen as the proportion of qualified staff in daycares needs to be increased according to the new Early Childhood Education Act, which came into force in 2018, by 2030.

At that time, at least two-thirds of the staff in daycares must have a qualification as an early childhood education teacher or social worker, with at least half of them having the former qualification.

The situation is already critical in terms of the availability of qualified staff, and it will only become more challenging. The six largest cities estimate that they will need over 9,000 new early childhood education professionals with a higher education degree by 2030 to provide early childhood education to all residents and meet the obligations of the Early Childhood Education Act.

The reasons for the shortage of personnel are clear, according to early childhood education directors. First, the number of children and the participation rate in early childhood education in cities have increased significantly since the 1990s, while the number of qualified teachers has decreased by half. Although efforts have been made to increase the number of teachers in recent years, it has not been enough to address the shortage.

Without significant measures to address the shortage of personnel, cities will not be able to provide early childhood education to all, and the quality of education will suffer. This will have far-reaching effects on children, families, and the functioning of the labor market.

In addition, the eligibility requirements for the person in charge of daycare operations will also change in 2030. The person in charge must have a qualification as an early childhood education teacher or social worker, adequate leadership skills, and at least a master’s degree in educational science. This means that a higher education degree will no longer be sufficient, and the career path for social workers, for example, will be cut off for this position.

Early childhood education directors hope that the new government will work with municipalities to evaluate the situation and take necessary measures to address the shortage of qualified personnel in early childhood education. It is essential to invest in education and increase the number of places available for teacher training programs to meet the growing demand for early childhood education in cities. Failure to act will have consequences for the well-being of children, families, and society as a whole.

Source: Helsinki Times

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