Back in 2014, the Government decided that students who wanted to take a childcare qualification had to have at least a C grade in GCSE Maths and English. Colleges reported a massive dip in the uptake of school leavers wanting to study childcare. Childcare courses were dropped due to lack of interest and it became harder to find qualified childcarers to fill the vacancies. This was the start of a steep decline in numbers of childcarers entering the profession and caused a ripple of concern across the industry. After much lobbying by key players in the childcare industry, including Tinies, the Government announced it was dropping the GCSE requirement.
Unfortunately that decision may have come too late, and is unlikely to fix the black hole of vacancies that exist out there. What is equally worrying is that the Government is still pressing ahead with the 30 hours free entitlement (despite serious misgivings by nursery providers) which will see demand for nursery places increase, which will drive up demand for more childcarers. A demand that currently can’t be met as it is.
In response to this crisis, Tinies has decided to take matters into its own hands, by launching our “Inspiring A Future in Childcare” campaign. The aim of the campaign is to raise awareness amongst children in school about the benefits of a career in childcare. What we hope to do is capture the interest of young adults in years 8, 9, and 10 and get them thinking about working with children, and how rewarding that choice of career can be. One way we are going to do this is by actively engaging with students in schools about a childcare career.
It brings back memories of when I was at school and attended a Careers Day. There was a speaker who talked about us becoming doctors, accountants and lawyers. Those were perceived as the “acceptable professions” in those days (or the Middle Ages as my son likes to call my school days) and there wasn’t a whole lot said about other jobs. We then had to sit a test, and based on your answers, the computer then churned out a list of jobs that would be suitable. One of the jobs listed for me was bin man because I said I liked the outdoors. For those of my friends who said they liked children, the only job listed was “teacher”.
Now if you want to work with children, there are so many options. You could work in a nursery, become a nanny, or be self-employed and work as a childminder. You could become a teacher, or do child psychology. You could become a midwife, or a paediatric nurse or doctor. You could set up a sports camp, run coding courses, or simply volunteer at a children’s charity. The choices are endless.
We want as many people as possible in our industry to get on board with our campaign. We are therefore calling upon our network of nannies and professional childcare staff, as well as supporters of the campaign (including PACEY, NDNA, Pre-School Learning Alliance and many others). We have teamed up with the Education and Employers Charity so you could also volunteer to take part in careers events and occupational health talks up and down the country – particularly aimed at children in years 8 and 9 before they choose their final qualification options.
In addition, childcare professionals may simply wish to share their story about what inspired them to join the sector. No matter how little or much support you can give, all is welcome.
We are in a sector where caring is part of our DNA and we know that if we collaborate we can make a difference and start to reverse some of the challenges we have been facing in the industry. Together we can support the next generation of potential childcarers to discover a rewarding career in childcare.
You may be able to sign up to volunteer an hour of your time during the year to visit a local school to help promote the value of working in our industry.
Whether you are a nursery manager, nursery practitioner, a nanny, a school careers officer, a crèche assistant, or anyone working with children, we would welcome your support to inspire others to join the sector. What could you do?
For more information about the campaign and how you could get involved on the website, or email us.
Amanda Coxen is a Director of Tinies Childcare, the UK’s largest childcare recruitment company with over 30 branches nationwide. Tinies are working with PACEY to promote the Inspiring A Future In Childcare campaign for the benefit of everyone across the Early Years sector. Amanda worked for 7 years as a qualified solicitor before leaving the profession in 2000 to join Ben and Oliver Black in running Tinies. Amanda is also a mother of 2 boys.