From 2020 the Government have committed to doubling the available hours of free childcare for children in Nursery in Scotland from 600 to 1140. This brings the need for a greatly increased Early Years workforce. The focus is on creating a diverse workforce offering the highest quality of care and the challenge of redressing the gender imbalance is a key factor.

Graeme Campbell, 31, and Paul Morrison, 43, both from Newton Mearns are involved in a collaboration between West College Scotland and East Renfrewshire Council where existing employees are being offered the opportunity to remain employed in their current role alongside study of HNC Early Education and Childcare on a part-time basis.

Here is their story…

Graeme and Paul are currently studying with the College at our Paisley Campus 1 day a week, alongside placements of two full days at Isabel Mair Family Centre and Busby Nursery respectively. They are both focusing on upskilling in their current careers as Pupil Support Assistants as part of the Early Years workforce expansion which will also see new nurseries open in the East Renfrewshire region.

Graeme had just completed a BSc Sports Coaching at university when a friend suggested a sessional role within Social Work. This was 8 years ago and he has never looked back. Since then his love for working with children has seen him move to a career in Pupil Support and he hopes to continue to progress into the wider Childcare field, highlighting the opportunities for access to university, career progression and side steps to the Social work sector.

Graeme said “There is often a stigma attached to working within the childcare sector with people thinking the only job available is as a nursery nurse. It’s often seen as a girl’s job but I think it’s important to have a male’s perspective within the workforce and it can bring a completely different approach to childcare in a positive way”.

Graeme hopes to be able to use his qualification to progress in a career in Early Years education. He feels that there is a real lack of male representation in the industry and he would recommend this career path to others saying,

“Although the balance of work and learning at the same time is challenging this would give anyone a great entry qualification to the industry. I would recommend the approach to learning as a great alternative to university and would be perfect for anyone who loves working with children, male or female”

Paul was previously self-employed struggling with the work-life balance often finding himself working excessively long hours 7 days a week. He was considering a career in Teaching and was advised to gain experience of working in schools in a Support role first. (Paul understands the importance of loving what you do; having clear steps for progression and appreciates the opportunity to learn while still at work.

The part time approach to learninghas fitted perfectly for Paul saying that it has allowed him to put into practice the theory he is learning in the classroom, gaining great Early Years’ experience and preparing him for the next step in his career. He said, “This course will allow me to gain my qualification in half the time. In just 1 year I will be able to progress in my career but I have been able to work whilst doing so, thanks to the innovative project between East Renfrewshire Council and West College Scotland.”

Paul also highlights the value of male representation within Early Years education commenting, “It’s important to have men within Childcare. There are a lot of children who don’t have any male role models in their home life so this can have a great benefit to them if they have this in nursery & school.”

He continued, “Children in the nursery often speak to me about different issues or concerns that they would a female staff member and men can often have a different approach which provides a great balance within the workforce”

West College Scotland also value the importance of male representation in the sector with Geraldine Miller, Curriculum Quality Leader for Childhood Practice commenting,

 “The Scottish Early Years workforce greatly values diversity and West College Scotland strive to make our awards equally attractive to male and female applicants. We are seeing increased numbers of male applicants for our courses and job prospects have never been better!”

She continued, “The SAAS part time fee grant has been really helpful in funding our HNC course on a part time basis. The commitment to 1140 hours of childcare by 2020 is a perfect opportunity to redress the gender imbalance in the workforce and in turn create a truly diverse workforce. Every day in the role is different and we have a much greater emphasis on outdoor learning and STEM subjects therefore career changers from all walks of life are essential as we develop the workforce of the future in Scotland.”