Is a childcare apprenticeship right for you?

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nursery staff

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Working with children takes patience, persistence and great communication skills. But a career in childcare is also an incredibly rewarding path that lets you use your imagination.

You’ll have the opportunity to nurture a child’s imagination, see them develop and give them a brilliant, happy start in life. 

Does this sound like the career for you? An apprenticeship is a great way to get started in childcare. This is everything you need to know.

What are childcare apprenticeships? 

Childcare workers make sure children are looked after, happy and safe. They give them chances to learn and stay active. They also help little ones develop social and practical skills.

There are plenty of childcare apprenticeships which allow you to learn the profession while working on the job, study for a professional qualification and earn a salary at the same time. There are two different levels of apprenticeship available: intermediate and advanced.

At the intermediate level, your job could be an ‘early years worker’; a care worker; or assistant youth support worker. You would be working under a supervisor and helping out in an environment such as a nursery, working with children under five years old.

And at the advanced level, you could train in roles such as a nursery worker or a nursery nurse. You’d be working on your own initiative, perhaps supervising a team.

What will I learn?

The nature of your apprenticeship will vary depending on the role, level and employer. But your duties and responsibilities could include:

  • Working in a team to organise the children and make sure they’re safe.
    Childcare apprentices do activities with the children and
    observe how they're developing
  • Learning how to support and foster children’s development and early education.
  • Helping children to understand health and hygiene habits.
  • Serving snacks and meals to the kids.
  • Contribute to planning activities and ideas.
  • Observing and recording children’s skills and their overall progress.
  • Attending staff meetings and training.
  • Updating children’s diaries.
  • Meeting parents and greeting children in an upbeat and friendly way.
  • Helping out with decorating the nursery.
  • Assisting with nappy changes.
  • Making sure the environment is clean and tidy.
  • Playing with the children outdoors.
  • Motivating the children and encouraging them to explore their surroundings.
  • Helping the kids to develop relationships with the other children and adults.

Many apprenticeship programmes will give you with an experienced member of staff who will act as your mentor.  

What skills do I need for a childcare apprenticeship?

The great thing about an apprenticeship is you typically don’t need a background or previous experience in the field. However most employers will want you to have a few personal qualities and skills up your sleeve! These could include:

  • Passion for and interest in childcare.
  • Basic computer and IT skills.
  • Great team-worker.
  • Being outgoing, friendly and approachable.
  • Some experience working with children – for example babysitting or looking after your younger brothers and sisters.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills.
  • Polite and professional attitude.
  • Able to use your own initiative and stay organised.
  • Reliable, punctual and hardworking.
  • Able to work under pressure.
  • Good at solving problems.
  • Strong observation skills.
  • Patient, kind and fair.

Can I apply?

You can apply for a childcare apprenticeship if you’re 16 or over, and not in full-time education. The entry requirements vary for each programme, so the best thing to do is search for ones you’re interested in, then check the individual listings. Many employers will want you to have a GSCE at grade C or above in maths, English and science. 

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Image credits

Main image and nursery worker reading via Wikimedia

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