Project with a history

The SEEPRO-3 study presented here is the fourth in a series of research projects based at the State Institute of Early Childhood Research and Media Literacy (IFP) in Munich and funded by the German Federal Ministry for Family and Youth Affairs (Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend). The new SEEPRO-3 study¹ focuses on the 27 member states of the European Union and six non-EU countries - a total of 33 countries. Reports on the early childhood workforce and the early childhood education and care (ECEC) systems in Norway, Switzerland and Serbia are presented for the first time in this context.

Starting in the mid-1990s, a time when new structures were emerging to support employee mobility across Europe, each project has specifically focused on the employees in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) settings - pedagogues, educators, teachers and their co-workers. In Germany and across Europe, there has been a steadily growing interest in the country-specific qualification requirements for staff working in ECEC, the settings in which they work and governance structures in the ECEC field. The four projects have progressively expanded in terms of the number of participating countries and in terms of the research questions for researchers and policy experts in the different national contexts. From the outset, it was important to the project team to embed professionalisation approaches in the context of the respective system of early childhood education and care. All major findings from these projects have been published in both English and German.

The first study, published in 1997² , focused on the workforce and ECEC systems of the 15 European Union countries of that time. Alongside commissioned reports, key informants in the field were interviewed: representatives of relevant ministries, researchers, teacher educators, ECEC counsellors and professional development experts, representatives of professional organisations and unions as well as staff working in early childhood centres. This interview-based approach was continued in the second study, named SEEPRO for the first time - an acronym for "Systems of early childhood education and professionalisation in Europe". Including the new central and eastern European member states, the workforce in 27 countries was now in focus and the findings published in book form in 2010³ . In 2015, a third study was commissioned to meet the growing interest and to update and extend the existing workforce profiles. National partners were university researchers and policy experts. 30 country reports were published for the first time on a specially designated website (⁴ and made accessible, free of charge, to all interested readers across Europe and beyond.

¹ Project duration: March 2021 to February 2024, ZMV I 7-2515081088
² Oberhuemer and Ulich 1997
³ Oberhuemer and Schreyer 2010
⁴ Schreyer and Oberhuemer 2018

The current SEEPRO-3 study

Throughout Europe, early childhood education and care systems are subject to constant shifts, undergoing both expansion and consolidation. Reform strategies and innovations characterise the situation in many countries. The staff working in ECEC settings continue to be viewed as the key contributing factor to the quality of daily interactions with the children, in providing stimulating learning environments and in supporting their wellbeing and learning processes. At the same time, almost all countries report a shortage of staff, in some cases severe. This has brought the qualification, competence and task profiles of early childhood leaders, pedagogues and assistants - perhaps more than ever before - to the forefront of professional policy interest and makes it necessary to continuously update the available data. This homepage now presents the results of the new and fourth project - SEEPRO-3.
For each of the 33 countries two documents have been compiled.

An ECEC workforce profile (country report) gives an account of the current status quo regarding the qualification requirements for ECEC professionals, the composition of the workforce, the systems of initial professional education and continuing professional development, current reform initiatives and research projects and selected aspects of the working conditions of staff in each of the 33 countries in focus. In addition, current challenges facing the ECEC staffing situation in the respective country are presented. The initial reports were provided by mostly long-standing cooperation partners according to a research specification which they received for comment before compilation of the data. The final versions are based on a long period of close and continuous collaboration between the editors and the authors. The reports vary in length, depending on the specific conditions in the respective country.

A key contextual data synopsis (country-specific background information) presents the main features of the ECEC system and also relevant demographic data. These were compiled by the project team and reviewed by our cooperation partners who often added supplementary data.

All documents are presented in English and in German, thus providing a resource for a wide audience across Europe and beyond: early childhood teacher educators in higher and vocational education, national and local government administrations, employers and service providers in the ECEC field, researchers, early years staff and other interested persons.


We would like to extend our sincere thanks to the following colleagues for their support:

Martin Krause (State Institute for Early Childhood Research and Media Literacy, IFP) for his competence in building up the SEEPRO website;

Dr. Kirsten Hanssen (German Youth Institute, Munich) for giving helpful suggestions when reviewing the two documents for Germany;

Emer. Prof. Dr. Eva Lloyd, OBE (University of East London) for her suggestion when recruiting individual cooperation partners;

Emer. Prof. Peter Moss (University College London, Social Research Institute, Thomas Coram Research Unit) for his continuing interest and encouraging discussions about the progress of the SEEPRO work;

The responsible specialists at the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth and the Federal Administration Office.

Last but not least, we would like to express our warm thanks to all 50 national partners in the 33 countries of this study for their excellent cooperation - reaching back in some cases over 20 years - in this joint European project.

Pamela Oberhuemer, Inge Schreyer

Munich, February 2024


Oberhuemer, P. and M. Ulich. 1997. Working with young children in Europe.
London: Paul Chapman Publishing Ltd.

Oberhuemer, P., I. Schreyer, and M. J. Neuman. 2010. Professionals in Early Education and Care Systems - European Profiles and Perspectives. Opladen and Farmington Hills, MI: Barbara Budrich.

Oberhuemer, P. and I. Schreyer (eds.). 2018. Early Childhood Workforce Profiles in 30 Countries with Key Contextual Data. Munich.