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Early Years Recruitment: How to ease the pressure of the crisis on nursery staff


The Early Years recruitment crisis is a serious issue that has been affecting the quality and availability of care for children in nurseries and preschools nationwide. It refers to the shortage of qualified and experienced staff within the Early Years sector, with providers reporting they receive no candidates at all for their vacancies, let alone qualified ones. 

The pressure of recruitment tasks on nursery staff

As demand for places in Early Years settings increases, nursery staff are under pressure to find qualified candidates whilst also ensuring that they meet the needs of children and families in their care. This puts immense pressure on the current staff to not only manage their regular workload but also take on extra responsibilities such as recruitment tasks. 

Recruiting new staff members is a time-consuming process. Most nursery chains/groups will have a dedicated HR team to manage this however in single-setting providers this strain often falls on nursery managers and staff. This can include posting job advertisements, reviewing resumes, scheduling and conducting interviews, and making hiring decisions. All of these tasks take time and require a significant amount of attention to detail, which can be stressful for staff members who are already busy with other responsibilities.

In a job market that is very much in the candidate’s favour, there is also the need for recruiters to respond promptly to applications and messages from interested candidates. This is imperative to securing the good candidates, however even more difficult when nursery staff have to maintain ratios so will often be helping cover childcare.  

Another factor that contributes to the pressure of recruiting is the need to find qualified candidates. Nursery staff are responsible for ensuring that all new employees not only have the relevant childcare qualifications and experience working with young children but also right to work, references and DBS checks in order to meet legal requirements. This is both time-consuming and challenging especially in areas where there is a shortage of trained candidates.

The pressure of recruitment tasks can impact the overall wellbeing of staff and in turn quality of care provided to children in nurseries. When staff members are stressed and overworked, it can lead to burnout, which can impact their ability to provide high-quality care to children. This, in turn, can affect the reputation of the nursery and lead to a decline in new enrolments, impacting the business’s future.

Strategies for Alleviating the Pressure of Recruitment Tasks

Outsource your recruitment process

One way to alleviate pressure on your team is by outsourcing the recruitment process to an agency. Agencies will be able to provide support in advertising roles and sourcing candidates for interviews. 

By working with an agency, settings can also save time by not having to screen candidates before offering them an interview. Agencies can help ensure that any candidates they source already have relevant qualifications and experience so that settings don’t have to go through the process of eliminating unqualified candidates. This can help them make the most of their time – something that many nurseries struggle with as they are often understaffed and under-resourced.

Use Technology

Whilst outsourcing to an agency may save time, it can come at a large financial cost to your business (most charging fees in the range of 15 – 20% of the offered salary). An alternative strategy to alleviate the stress of recruitment could be to use an online applicant tracking system (ATS) that brings all of the administration tasks into one place.

At eyworks, we offer eyrecruit, an Early Years specific ATS platform and job board. eyrecruit can help streamline the recruitment process, from posting job advertisements and tracking applications to scheduling interviews and making hiring decisions. This can help reduce the administrative burden of recruitment tasks and free up nursery staff to focus on their core responsibilities.

Plan Ahead

Effective planning is essential to reducing stress on nursery staff. By planning ahead, nursery managers can ensure that recruitment tasks are allocated sufficient time and resources and that staff are informed and prepared for each step of the process. This can help reduce the last-minute rush and stress on staff from the tasks.

Offer Training and Support

Finally, providing training and support to nursery staff can help reduce the stress of recruitment tasks. Offering courses in interview techniques, resume screening and job advertising can help build staff confidence and expertise in the process. This should also help staff make informed decisions when it comes to choosing the right person and in turn a successful hire leads to less recruitment tasks in the future.


The Early Years recruitment crisis has made recruiting quality candidates a more challenging task for nursery staff. However, Nursery Owners and HR teams can support staff to manage the recruitment process effectively and reduce the stress associated with the Early Years recruitment crisis. This can lead to improved staff well-being, and ultimately, a higher quality, happier workforce.

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