PIVOT-AL Collaborative workforce project planning event

Activity: Participating in or organising event(s)Organising a conference, workshop, exhibition, performance, inquiry, course etc


A planning meeting for our project proposal on the workforce in health, care and education services. We are all very aware of the critical condition of the workforce - compromising high quality services through shortages of staff and eroding working conditions. This project will probe beneath the surface of workforce questions, and ask what is needed for high quality services for parents and carers of very young children. This planning event is the start of a collaboration to create an innovative and winning proposal. A summary of discussions to date is set out below.

The staffing of public services – in health, education, care – is unstable and progressively more prone to ‘churn’ including turnover and burnout, with adverse consequences for service quality and public satisfaction. The taken for granted underpinnings of vocational commitment to working for and with the public for mutual gain are dissembling in the face of increasing workload demands, a shift to private for-profit ownership, prolonged periods of ‘running on full’ or emergency working, and inequalities of access and experience. One might say the ‘soul’ of public services is under threat.

What can be done to stabilise and improve public services for very young children? Productivity and quality of service rely on staff staying in post and being able to practise in ways that are aligned to their professional values and sense of vocation. How can staff retention in health, care and education professions be addressed? What conditions are needed to sustain a sense of belonging, commitment and team work on which job satisfaction relies? What compromises and dilemmas are staffing making that destabilise work commitment?

The aim of this project is to track and evaluate workforce commitment, ethos and practice from training phases to experienced practitioner status. We expect to find that the early idealism of new entrants quickly gives way to more instrumental demands of practice, and that, where staff try to maintain their vocational commitments, there will be practice dilemmas and conflicts that give rise to stress and deteriorating sense of wellbeing, or leaving the workplace to search for more aligned job satisfaction, or exiting altogether. Work commitment is complicated as it is often associated with doing more hours or higher grade tasks in the search for job satisfaction or the personal reward, or, in the case of the Covid-19 pandemic, because public service required them to, of ‘going above and beyond’.
This project will examine a) to what extent and in what ways working in health, care and education services for very young children require staff to compromise idealism in everyday practice; and b) the personal and career consequences of extra-ordinary work commitment such as ‘going above and beyond’. The project will also c) find ways to mobilise employers, and professional associations to improve staff retention by creating conditions of work that enable staff to practice with commitment and idealism intact.

Services we are thinking of: (potentially) midwifery, health visiting, paediatricians, child nursing, nursery workers, early childhood educators/teachers.

Project stages:
1. Secondary analysis – eg LFS, workforce statistics
2. Case studies of practice across (?6) health, care and education occupations
3. Policy lab and citizens assemblies
Period24 Feb 2023
Event typeWorkshop
LocationLondon, United KingdomShow on map