There could be increased demand for people to fill early years education jobs after deputy prime minister Nick Clegg announced a shake-up of the system.
The government had planned to offer two-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds access to free pre-school education from September 2013, but in some areas the measure is now going to be rolled out this year instead.
An additional 1,000 toddlers who qualify for free school meals will be able to benefit from the initial trial, which will extend the 15 hours per week of free education currently only available to three and four-year-olds.
Parents will also be offered extra flexibility by spreading the free places across either two or three days.
Mr Clegg hailed the 'revolution' of early education, saying it will provide free childcare of a higher quality that is more suited to parents' needs.
"By getting things right from the off we're making sure our youngsters are ready to learn when they start school so that they get the most out of their education," he said.
The move is part of the Department for Education's drive to close the gap in attainment between children from disadvantaged families and those from more affluent backgrounds.
Posted by Harriet McGowan