When Robert Robertson from Ayrshire thought about leaving his manufacturing job he tried a men in childcare evening class which has led to a rewarding new career. He tells us about his journey from the warehouse to Springvale Early Years Centre.
Why did you decide to go into early learning and childcare (ELC)?
I have always been interested in how children learn and the importance of positive interaction between adults and children.
I worked for the same manufacturing company for more than 20 years starting in the warehouse, eventually becoming a merchandising manager. Working in the manufacturing industry became a challenge as customers could import cheaper products from elsewhere and I was aware times were difficult. It was time for a career change.
My wife and daughter are both teachers and encouraged me to consider a career in teaching but spending four years at university full time put me off as I still needed to work.
What did you do and what qualifications did you take?
My wife saw an advert for an information evening for Men in Childcare evening courses at Kilmarnock College so I started my NC Early Education and Childcare there and completed it at Reid Kerr College in Paisley (as not enough men attended the evening classes in Kilmarnock).
After completing my NC the college asked if I would be interested in starting my HNC Childhood Practice but this would have to be full time. This would mean leaving my job and I was unsure of the financial implications on my family. I had to think about it.
I took two weeks holiday and worked voluntarily in a local nursery to see if I really did want a career in childcare. It was the best two weeks I’d had for a long time and I soon realised this was what I wanted to do. After some serious discussions with my wife and employers it was agreed that I could do my HNC and still work on the days that I wasn’t at college so I had some financial security.
I completed my HNC and after some time found employment with the local council. I have since completed my BA Childhood Practice and I’m now looking for a promoted post.
What’s the best bit about your job?
I enjoy the interaction between myself and the children and how I can make a difference no matter how small.
Can you be creative at work?
I can be creative and can bring a male perspective to the nursery environment when implementing any learning experiences. I really enjoy risky play and encourage the children to get involved and be hands on.
Why do you think childcare can make such a difference to children’s lives?
Being a positive male role model when some children don’t have a male in their lives must have an impact. As a practitioner I build self-esteem and confidence as well as encouraging the children to have fun while they are learning.
What do you find rewarding about the job?
The most rewarding thing about the job is making children smile and laugh on a daily basis.
What does a normal day look like?
Every day is different and so are all the children but I am always ready to meet any challenges with an open mind and a smile. You may be having a bad morning but the minute you walk through that nursery door the benefits and rewards from being a practitioner soon make you forget your worries for a little while.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I would like to eventually own and manage my own nursery, once I have gained more experience in a managerial role.
What would you say to someone considering a job in childcare?
If you are considering a career in childcare I would say what are you waiting for? Go for it, you could make a difference.