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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 August 2007, 11:11 GMT 12:11 UK
Assembly focuses on 'early years'
A nursery
It is hoped the Foundation Phase will create around 2,300 assistants
A drive to recruit thousands more childcare workers and classroom assistants in Wales has got under way.

Children's minister Jane Hutt said current staff would also be helped to improve skills and qualifications.

Ms Hutt said she wanted families to be confident the services were helping give their children "the best possible start in life".

Television, radio and press advertisements will be supported by the website playlearngrowwales.gov.uk.

The minister, also responsible for education, lifelong learning and skills, launched the recruitment campaign on Wednesday at the Rhydyfelin Integrated Children's Centre in Pontypridd.

She said that the demand for staff to work with children was rising above the 26,000 people already working in the sector.

The early years of a child's life are the most important in shaping their future development
Jane Hutt

She said the rise was "due partly to groundbreaking Welsh Assembly Government initiatives," including the Flying Start programme which offers free childcare, parenting programmes and other services to poorer families.

The Welsh Assembly Government estimates its new Foundation Phase will create around 2,300 new vacancies for classroom assistants from September next year.

The Foundation Phase, for three to seven year olds, includes more use of play and activities to help children develop.

In a statement Ms Hutt said: "The early years of a child's life are the most important in shaping their future development, so we are making a significant investment in staff and training to ensure that we have the right people.

"We recognise that everyone who is involved in caring for children plays an important role - classroom assistants, childminders, play workers, and people working in playgroups, out-of-school clubs and nurseries.

"That is why we are encouraging people already working in this sector to consolidate their experience and skills by further training and gaining formal qualifications."

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