When quality falls by the wayside

By Sarah RaparoliLex KlerenMisch Pautsch Switch to German for original article

A glance at the weekly job advertisements is enough to recognise the high demand for educators. But how can it be that so many seem to choose this career path and yet there is still not enough to meet the demand? In search of answers.

"It takes a whole village to raise a child. This saying was true many years ago. At that time, the child's upbringing was spread over several shoulders. Those shoulders are now greatly reduced, especially for single parents." Yves Kails, educator and secretary of the educators' union ALEE, is frustrated. He can testify to what he and his colleagues do every day. "The lifestyle has changed. Many bring their children to care structures in the morning and can only pick them up late at night." Not everyone has this privilege of being able to rely on several shoulders. The development of society as a whole and the political decisions that go along with it are the reasons why so many positions for educators are advertised.

"Besides the social reason, the political reason came in the 2000s", adds ALEE Vice President Manuel Da Costa. "The big change came with the 'Chèque-Service [Accueil]' (vouchers for out-of-school childcare, ed.). With this financial support, parents who didn't need it suddenly dropped their children off at the Maison Relais (after-school childcare centres, ed.) ─ at that time they were canteens. And suddenly one realised: 'We need more educators if the number of children continues to riseˈ."

Massive demand

The search for more staff has not only been confirmed in recent years, but has increased considerably. Manual Da Costa gives an example: "I worked in the Roeser/Krauthem area in a Maison Relais. We went from 80 to 100 to 150 to 160 children in one year … Now there are 300 children. That no longer has anything to do with quality or the work of the educator." The educator does not mince his words. "You hardly know if the children have eaten." The recent announcement that after-school childcare will be free and homework help will be introduced (even though the latter was already the case, as both educators point out during the conversation) would have exacerbated the whole thing.

The massive demand would also be reflected in figures of the so-called PraxisBüro of social work, explains Yves Kails. "In six years, the number of advertised vacancies has doubled." In 2021, 1,904 posts were counted, compared to 946 in 2014. According to PraxisBüro, the advertisements are documented on a weekly basis. It says: "As in previous years, the levels of Éducateur diplômé and Bachelor are most in demand and account for almost three quarters of all job offers." The total is 72.6 per cent (page four of the analysis).

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