Early childhood education and care (ECEC) is internationally recognised as a social investment strategy for supporting parental employment and providing the foundations to children’s lifelong learning. ECEC provides early intervention for disadvantaged groups; high quality ECEC can help lessen the negative consequences of disadvantage on children’s later learning.
Internationally those who work in ECEC are recognised as central to the quality of ECEC. The European Commission (2014) identified the importance of initial training and subsequent professional development as contributing to the development of professional competences of the ECEC workforce and contributing to the overall quality of ECEC. Despite the continued focus on the importance of the ECEC workforce for the quality of services, structural attributes, such as initial qualification requirements, are variable across Member States, and professional development requirements, if present at all, are even more differentiated (Lindeboom and Buiskool, 2013). Beyond these structural attributes are questions as to what constitutes the knowledge, skills and attitudes required for a competent ECEC workforce (Urban et al., 2011).