Competences and standards: why do we need them for the early childhood workforce?



This date of this webinar has passed. Please find the recording below.

Competences and standards affect the professionalization of the workforce, the relevance of their initial training and continuous professional development, of mentoring, of monitoring and evaluation, and their improvement efforts. They can have a significant impact on those who work directly with young children and their families.

Why are professional competences and standards needed and how do they support a well-prepared workforce from their first day of preparation throughout their career? Are they contributing to quality improvement? Do they contribute to recognizing the importance of the early childhood profession?

Recently, the Early Childhood Workforce Initiative has published a landscape analysis on competences and standards for the early childhood workforce, across sectors and professions. The report provided insights into the importance of defining such policy documents for strengthening and supporting the workforce. Still, across the globe there are great disparities among countries, and within systems across sectors, on how these competences and standards are defined, the role they play in professionalizing the workforce and how they contribute to strengthening the early childhood systems in countries.

The webinar addressed some of the following questions pertaining to four topics:
1. Rationale for defining competences and standards for the early childhood workforce
    What is the relationship between defined competences and standards for EC professions and pre and in-service training?
   To what extent defined competences and standards are important/useful for individual professionals and for services?
   How dynamic are the competences and standards definitions? To what extent do they play a role in aligning the image of the profession with the changing demands from the profession?
   What are the risks if competences and standards are not defined?
   How often there are competences and standards defined for paraprofessionals?

2. Non-negotiable and cross-sectoral competences: pertinence and relevance
    Are there competences that are non-negotiable for each sector and for all sectors?
   To what extent such non-negotiable competences can be a starting point in recruiting the workforce especially in systems that are underdeveloped?

3. Competences and standards, career development and mobility in the early childhood workforce
   To what extent do the defined competences and standards have an impact on deciding the level of qualification for each profession?
   Are the way competences and standards defined limiting or encouraging career mobility?

4. Competences and standards and quality assurance in early childhood services and systems
   To what extent are the competences and standards used for monitoring the quality of services? At what level – individual, service, system? How are they monitored and to what consequent action is the monitoring leading?
   Are there examples when professional standards are used for the development of quality improvement plans?

The issues and discussions were aimed at covering different country contexts from low and middle-income countries to developed countries, and referred to various categories of professionals from different sectors.
This webinar was intended for policymakers interested in the professionalization of the early childhood workforce across all sectors, and for those providing pre-service training and continuing professional development for various early childhood professionals. Managers and pedagogical leaders in early childhood services in the field of education, health and social welfare could find this webinar of interest.

Meet the Panelists:



  • Dr. Mihaela Ionescu, Program Director, International Step by Step Association (ISSA), The Netherlands [Bio]


  • Dr. Karen Whittaker, Reader, Associate Professor in Child and Family Health, School of Nursing, University of Central Lancashire, UK [Bio]
  • Sherri Le Mottee, Early Years Consultant and Member of the World Bank Early Years Partnership, South Africa [Bio]
  • Dr. Mathias Urban, Desmond Chair of Early Childhood Education, Professor at Dublin City University, Ireland [Bio]
  • Vidya Putcha, Senior Program Officer, Results for Development (R4D), USA [Bio]