There can be a lot of benefits to having men working in crèches and Montessori School, as Karl Clark has discovered.
The Carndonagh man qualified last year in Early Childhood Care and Education through Donegal ETB’s Further Education and Training (FET) Service in their Buncrana FET Centre. Ever since, he has been working at Little Acorns in Buncrana, and enjoying every day.
Gender balance in the childcare sector has a long way to go. Less than one per cent of workers are male, which leaves a large percentage of children with little contact with men as they begin to enter society.
Karl faced zero challenges in finding employment in the sector. He did his work experience with Little Acorns during his two years with the ETB, before being offered a role as a Care Assistant as soon as he qualified.
“I think every crèche or playschool should have a male in there. Boys need someone to look up to at this stage in their lives. That’s not to say I don’t get on with the girls too,” Karl says.
Karl, a qualified barista and father of two, first applied for the course to upskill and to secure a job.
“I’m a jack of all trades, but I was sick of applying for jobs and getting nowhere,” he said.
“I used to be a scout leader for over five years, I was used to working with children, so I thought, why not try something new?”
Returning to studying was quite daunting at first for Karl, who was in his late forties at the time.
“I worried about what I was letting myself in for, but once I got the first assignment done, the flow was easy then. It just came naturally,” he said.
Karl enjoyed learning about special needs education the most and enjoyed putting the theory into practice during his work experience days.
The tutors were there to help every step of the way, he said.
“If you needed some help, there was always a case of getting one-to-one support. There was ample time to get everything done and it was always enjoyable. When I got my results, I was astounded,” he said.
Karl was also able to balance learning with family life, as the programme is structured alongside the school year calendar.
Karl sees the work opportunities as a huge advantage in studying Childcare.
For anyone else who is considering gaining skills in the sector, his advice is “go for it”.
“There are great opportunities to gain employment like I did.”
Donegal ETB’s FET Service offers a range of one- and two-year full-time courses across the county to support progression to employment or further and higher education. Recruitment is now open for September.
You can apply online for them through their website course finder (https://www.donegaletb.ie/further-education-training/course-finder/) and follow their social media for updates (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn). If you need further advice, contact the ETB’s Adult Guidance and Information Service on 074 91 78088, email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete this web form and they’ll get back to you https://www.donegaletb.ie/further-education-training/adult-guidance/.