Parents in Clydebank have been given assurances over the future of early learning and child care provision.

West Dunbartonshire Council says its plans are progressing well to deliver an enhanced service as required by the Scottish Government.

The assurance comes amid a warning from UNISON Scotland that if the Government wants to meet its promises to expand free childcare it will need to train more staff and increase their wages.

The union says that is the result of its comprehensive survey of the numbers currently being trained to deliver the expansion.

UNISON says responses to its Freedom of Information requests to every council and every college in Scotland show that there are just not enough people in colleges or on in-work training courses to meet the staffing levels needed for the promised extra hours.

And the union points out Audit Scotland estimated that 12,000 Whole Time Equivalent (WTE) extra staff are needed.

Kay Sillars, UNISON Scotland Education Issues Group, said: “The Scottish government urgently needs to increase the number of college places, but this isn’t enough.

“The key to recruiting and retaining staff in the numbers needed is to improve pay and terms and conditions across the sector.

“The proposed benchmark of the living wage is far too low.

“You can earn the real living wage in many supermarkets without a qualification.

“If the Scottish Government wants to encourage people to undertake training and the responsibilities of delivering a high quality early years service they need to value what this overwhelmingly workforce does.

Ms Sillars added: “The government also needs to invest in more full and part-time college places in order to ensure that there are enough qualified staff in place to deliver a high quality service.”

A spokesperson for West Dunbartonshire Council said: “The council is committed to ensuring all our children get the best possible start in life and plans are progressing well to deliver our enhanced early learning and childcare provision.

“The expansion of the service will allow new staff to join the council and for current staff to retrain and progress to both managerial and leadership roles.”