Skip to main content

Progress for Success funded existing workers to undertake recognised childcare and play qualifications to increase their skills levels. The aim of the evaluation was to assess the effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of Progress for Success.

Progress for Success provided funding to support existing childcare and play workers to undertake recognised qualifications to increase and enhance their skills. The aim of Progress for Success was to support improvements to the quality of provision offered to children, reflecting evidence that a highly-skilled workforce leads to better future educational outcomes for children. Progress for Success initially ran from 2016 to 2019 and was extended to be delivered from 2019 to 2023.

Progress for Success was part-funded by European Social Fund (ESF) and administered by the Welsh European Funding Office (WEFO) within Priority Axis 3 Youth Employment and Attainment, Specific Objective 4: To increase the skills of the Early Years and Childcare Workforce within the West Wales and Valleys area. Progress for Success was also available to workers in East Wales, funded by the Welsh Government, so all training opportunities were available across Wales. 

The Welsh Government commissioned Arad Research to undertake an evaluation of the initial programme, and then of the extended programme. A literature review was also undertaken for the initial evaluation and is included in an Annex of the first report.

The evaluation of the initial phase aimed to assess the effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of the operation during the period July 2015 to September 2019. This report was mostly completed in 2020, but has not been published until now because key output data have not been available.

Some of the recommendations from the first report were used to refocus the programme, which was extended until 2023:

  • The Welsh Government should continue to fund childcare and play qualifications.
  • Future operations would benefit from ensuring that eligibility criteria are as broad and as flexible as possible.
  • Future operations aimed at upskilling the workforce should extend Welsh-medium and bilingual work-based learning in order to support the vision set out in the Welsh Government Cymraeg 2050 strategy to expand Welsh-medium provision in the early years as an access point for Welsh-medium education.

The evaluation of the 2019 to 2023 phase was undertaken between 2021 and 2023 and assesses the effectiveness of the new operation in meeting the sector's upskilling needs and in supporting practitioners’ professional development.

Main findings across both reports

  • Progress for Success has succeeded in achieving its primary short-term outcome of increasing the skills levels of the early years, childcare and play workforce.
  • A considerably lower number of participants engaged with Progress for Success than was originally planned. A total of 1,063 participants engaged with Progress for Success in West Wales and the Valleys between 2016 and 2023 (37% of the target of 2,849).
  • The childcare and play sector were supportive of the overall aims of Progress for Success to upskill the workforce.
  • There were variations in the frequency and nature of assessor contact and the strength of the working relationship between the assessor/provider and the employer.
  • Progress for Success participants reported several motivations for undertaking qualifications, including the National Minimum Standards (NMS) for regulated childcare, improving career prospects, and gaining playwork knowledge.
  • Employers noted that their motivations to take part were most frequently linked to using Progress for Success to increase the numbers of qualified staff in order to comply with the National Minimum Standards.
  • Overall, learners and employers provided positive feedback on the impact Progress for Success had on knowledge, understanding, skills, and confidence. Employers recognised that gaining the qualification had made their staff more ‘reflective’ practitioners, with a better appreciation of how to plan and deliver activities to support children’s developmental milestones.
  • The Progress for Success operation was broadly successful in contributing to the goals of the Employability Plan, the Economic Action Plan (Prosperity for All), and the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act. However, the scale of contribution was limited as fewer participants took part than planned.
  • Stakeholders were sceptical about being able to isolate and measure the contribution of Progress for Success towards broader policy goals.

Main recommendations from the second report covering the period 2019 to 2023

  1. Continued support for the upskilling of the childcare and play workforce, promoting progression opportunities and supporting retention.
  2. Support the upskilling of volunteers: recognising the role of volunteering could offer as a route from volunteering to employment to help address workforce shortages and provide additional support for settings.
  3. Continue to explore ways of providing flexibility in learning, ensuring that any future operation can cater to different types of learners, settings, and situations.
  4. Improve data collection for employer contact details and their consent to take part in evaluation activity, to support an understanding of the impact of the programme on their setting.
  5. Ensuring learners and employers are clear about the time commitment associated with qualifications. This would enable participants and employers to better understand and plan their time and schedules.


Evaluation of Progress for Success, 2016 to 2019 , file type: PDF, file size: 2 MB

2 MB
If you need a more accessible version of this document please email Please tell us the format you need. If you use assistive technology please tell us what this is.

Evaluation of Progress for Success: childcare and play workforce development, 2019 to 2023 , file type: PDF, file size: 1 MB

1 MB
If you need a more accessible version of this document please email Please tell us the format you need. If you use assistive technology please tell us what this is.


Kim Wigley

Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg / We welcome correspondence in Welsh.


Telephone: 0300 025 8099

Rydym yn croesawu galwadau yn Gymraeg / We welcome calls in Welsh.