Anthony Barej gets a lesson in childcare at United Kingdom Hertford Regional College

by Anthony Barej - Hertfordshire Mercury

When people think of a childcare professional they tend not to conjure up an image of a man, but perhaps they should.

I recently paid a visit to Hertford Regional College's (HRC) Broxbourne campus to have a look at their children and young people's work force apprenticeships.

You may not be surprised to know that it was immediately apparent women make up the majority of apprentices on the course.

But surely a bloke can do it to?

Elizabeth Bullock, apprenticeship manager for the childcare apprenticeships at HRC's Broxbourne campus, told me that in her 20 years experience in working in childcare it was rare to find one working in early years childcare.

But this is changing and Elizabeth thinks this a good thing.

She said: "When I started working on these apprenticeships nine years ago none of the apprentices were men but today two of our 34 apprentices are men."

When I asked Elizabeth why this was the case, she told me it was largely a social attitude problem.

Childcare continues to be seen as a mothering profession but Elizabeth hopes that society gets over such stereotypical ideas.

She said: "Having a male influence in childcare can be highly beneficial for all those involved.

"I've spoken to employers who have taken on our male apprentices and the feedback has been all positive.

"Individuals have different styles of caring for children, having men in this environment adds to the dynamic and can be huge benefit for the children, both boys and girls."

Elizabeth told me she has found that parents, especially fathers, welcome the idea of men working in childcare because they find it easier to relate to other men and this in turn makes it easier for them to engage in their own children's childcare provision.

The attitude that men shouldn't be working in childcare is one which needs to be dispelled.

According to Elizabeth, that view is misguided and totally unwarranted.

She said: "Without being stereotypical men can be better suited to certain approaches when it comes to children, boisterous boys for example tend to benefit from having a male influence in the classroom.

"Of course it is different for different people but it is good to have a mix of individuals in the workplace who think and work differently because that is only going to strengthen the team and the service they provide."

HRC offer two levels of the children and young people's work force apprenticeships which both run for a minimum of 12 months.

The apprenticeship is for people who want to work with children from birth to 16-year-olds, in settings or services which focus on early learning and childcare.

Workers in this area make sure children are looked after, kept active, happy and nourished.

The apprentices will learn how to help children develop their social and practical skills.

Elizabeth said: "This is a very fulfilling job, working with children and young people and helping their development can be incredibly rewarding."

The intermediate level introduces the apprentices to the functional skills, knowledge and competency needed to work as a nursery assistant, playgroup assistant, assistant youth and community worker and a care worker/assistant.

The advanced level is designed to teach the skills required to work as a nursery supervisor, nursery nurse, nursery teaching assistant, playgroup leader or childminder.

On both course apprentices will also get work-based learning with an employer.

HRC has a base of employers in the community who come to them to hire apprentices, all of whom are paid at least the apprenticeship national minimum wage.

Elizabeth said that a number of apprentices who have successfully completed the course are now doing their foundation degrees and going on to doing childcare and teaching degrees in university.

If you want to work in education, whether that is early years or older children, this course is a great place to start.

In case guys out there need any more convincing, take a leaf out of Arnold Schwarzenegger's book. In his 1990 film Kindergarten Cop, he proved men can and should be involved with childcare and teaching.

If you are interested in doing an apprenticeship, or in hiring apprentices, visit www.hrc.ac.uk, contact the college on (01992) 411572 or email apprenticeship@hrc.ac.uk

February 5, 2014

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