If you are interested in working with children, there are plenty of apprenticeship vacancies advertised during the year offering level 2 and often level 3 placements at local nurseries. But what sort of people are they looking for and what should you take into consideration when applying?

What can you expect to do in a childcare apprenticeship role?

Teamwork – Most likely you can expect to be supporting qualified staff at the nursery with daily routines, contributing to and completing observations and records when required.

Self-development – You will also be learning the job of a nursery nurse, getting a good understanding of child development – and how this is important when caring for children – as well as specifically how to provide high quality childcare and create consistency whilst understanding the importance of keeping everyone safe.

Child development – The role requires you to ensure that the children’s individual needs are identified and met. And you will be expected to promote positive relationships between the children as well.

Adult relations – On top of all this, you’ll be expected to build positive relationships with families and colleagues as well as internal and external professionals.

To find out more, we spoke to Zoe Smith, an expert in our region who has worked in the childcare sector for over 25 years. After qualifying as a Norland nanny, Zoe worked her way up in various nurseries to become a Regional Manager overseeing three local nurseries and now works as a nanny and childcare assessor. Here’s what she told is …

What skills and knowledge are needed for a career in childcare?

If you are hoping to pursue a career in early years education (i.e. in a nursery), you will ideally need to be patient, enthusiastic, fun loving, hard-working, happy going, professional at all times, confidential, passionate about making a difference to children, a team player and able to build good relationships with children, parents and staff.

What factors should you consider when applying for a vacancy?

Location – Have a think about whether you need to be close to home or whether the childcare setting needs to be easily accessible, perhaps by public transport? Perhaps you also have a preference as to whether it is attached to a primary school or standalone independent? And whether it is in a city or town centre – or out in the countryside?

Level – Do you want or need to apply for a Level 2 Intermediate apprenticeship? Or are you in a position to now apply for a Level 3 advanced apprenticeship? One may naturally lead to the other, but most likely you will need to read the advert carefully to ascertain which is appropriate.

Skills required – one of the key drivers in determining whether you apply for a Level 2 or 3 is the entry criteria. Whilst few, if any, require specialist GCSEs such as a health and social care or child development, the Level 3 roles do expect GCSE grade C / 4 or above in English and Maths, although these are desirable, but rarely compulsory for a Level 2 position. However, this is just a guide so remember to check the details in an individual advert before applying.

Future prospects – Does the advert also mention any future prospects? In other words, can you be fairly certain of a full-time job at the end of your apprenticeship? Or is there mention of the opportunity to progress to the next level? If you are progressing from a Level 2 to a Level 3 apprenticeship, would it also perhaps be beneficial to move to a different childcare setting to widen your experience?

Training company – Whilst an apprenticeship is very much like a paid job with an employer offering in-work training, it does critically also involve additional qualifications supervised by an external trainer. That trainer may work for a local college – or for a training company, such as Lifetime Training.

Start date – You may have a preference to start your apprenticeship in September after your GCSEs, in which case the colleges may be the best trainers for your apprenticeship. However, if you are looking to start mid-year – or simply as soon as possible – then most likely the advertised vacancies will be supported by one of the training companies instead.

What would you suggest for anyone interested in going into childcare?

First do some work experience to make sure it is the right thing for you. It is good to gain on the job knowledge and see how things work within a setting.

An apprenticeship is good as you are learning whilst you are working. As an apprentice you would have support from your assessor and reviews and observations completed every 6-8 weeks.

If you are doing a full time childcare course at college you would learn employability skills and spend one or two days a week on a placement to gain this valuable experience within a setting. If you then also aspire to be a manager, a degree is a good idea, but this can be completed further down the line and whilst you are working within a childcare setting.

And finally …

For teenagers who are interested in childcare I would say that it is a very rewarding to see children develop and know that you have had a positive impact on a child’s life. It is lovely to see happy faces on the children, making all your cares go away, and is actually quite therapeutic. Overall it is hard work, but definitely fun and every day is different.

With huge thanks to Zoe and a reminder that local childcare apprenticeship vacancies will be advertised on Careersnearhere as well as open days for the colleges offering childcare training and courses.

Careersnearhere: It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started!

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