by Scott MacNab - The Scotsman

More Scots men will be encouraged to take up a career as nursery teachers and childminders as part of a Scottish Government drive announced today.

Ministers today set out their vision for an overhaul of the country’s early years workforce which will also look at ensuring that the profession is better paid for those involved.

Just 4% of nursery teachers in Scotland are currently male and 0% of childminders. Ministers now want to shift this balance and believe it would have wider benefits for society.

The Scottish Government published its response to an Independent Review of the Early Learning and Childcare and Out of School Care Workforce carried out by Professor Iram Siraj’s earlier this year.

Education Secretary Angela Constance said: “I am committed to doing more to promote early learning and out of school care as a fantastic career for young people, considering, in particular, what more we could do to attract more males into the sector.

“This would bring a number of benefits, including increasing gender equality, providing children with positive role models of both genders within early learning and childcare settings.”

It would also attract a “wider group of individuals with the right skills” into the profession, she added.

Work will now be undertake with bodies like Skills Development Scotland, the Workforce and Quality Group, Scottish Funding Council and equalities organisations to help promote early learning and out of school care as careers for men.

The Siraj report comprised 31 recommendations for change including mandatory induction or pre-registration training for childminders, along with moves to beef up the qualifications for the childcare and nursery workforce with the prospect of more degrees.

The childcare workforce should also be entitled to a living wage, the report added.

The Scottish Government has commissioned an independent expert to review a range of issues from qualifications and training, to gender balance and pay.

Children’s minister Aileen Campbell added: “This government strongly supports the Living Wage campaign and encourages all organisations, regardless of size, sector and location, to ensure all staff receive a fair level of pay. I have visited a number of nurseries who already do this and we will continue to work with the sector to promote the benefits of the Living Wage and encourage more organisations to sign up to fair work practices.”