Dec 14

Early Years and Childcare

Early Years and Childcare can involve a variety of settings including:

  • play groups,
  • out of school care,
  • nurseries,
  • child and family centres, and
  • crèches.

Early years and childcare practitioners play a vitally important role in supporting children from birth to school age reach their full potential by encouraging their development. Early years and childcare services can be run by local authorities, voluntary sector organisations or privately., With approximately 2,400 businesses within Wales employing over 18,000 people, there are plenty of potential employers out there who could be actively recruiting.

With Government initiatives making early years and childcare provision more accessible, there is an ever increasing demand for qualified and trained practitioners who can provide a high quality service to children, their families and carers.

There are opportunities for everyone, whether you’ve just left school, looking for a career change or returning to work. You could be your own boss and consider self-employment, working from the convenience of your own home as a registered childminder

Examples of job roles when starting your career:
Playgroup Assistant; Nursery Assistant; Cylch Meithrin Assistant.

There are numerous job roles and a variety of settings you can work in, either on a full-time or part-time basis to suit your own personal circumstances. You could work in a day nursery, playgroup, cylch meithrin, integrated children’s centre or from your own home as a childminder. Additionally, there are other types of job roles available working within playwork and education (further information available from Play Wales, Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids’ Clubs and your Local Education Authority).

Whichever role and setting you decide to work in, you can be certain of a varied, challenging and rewarding career, where you will be working closely with children of all backgrounds and abilities, helping them develop skills that they’ll use throughout their life. It’s a career that brings fun, enjoyment and job satisfaction to every day, seeing the children in your care develop as individuals and knowing that you’re giving them the best possible start in life

Typical duties may include

  • Planning, setting up and participating in educational and play based activities to support children’s development;
  • Ensuring the safety of children in your care at all times;
  • Protecting and promoting children’s rights;
  • Storing away equipment safely and ensuring cleanliness of the workplace;
  • Providing personal care for babies or children, including preparing bottles, feeding, changing nappies, assisting with bathing, getting dressed and using the toilet;
  • Observing and assessing children’s behaviour and ensuring that their individual needs are met; Maintaining accurate records and producing brief written reports;
  • Working closely with parents, carers and others within the children’s workforce.

Read Amy Louise Kemshell in the Care Council for Wales ‘Working in Early Years and Childcare’ e-leaflet or in ‘Working in Early Years and Childcare – A Positive Career Choice

People who work in this field enjoy the challenge of being creative and energetic in planning and carrying out activities and also the fun of interacting with children. It is a role that also carries a great deal of responsibility with a focus on encouraging and monitoring a child’s development and ensuring that they receive the best of care at all times.

Working in this area you will need:

  • Creative flair and imagination to deliver a wide variety of stimulating, challenging and interesting activities
  • Energy, enthusiasm and a sense of fun
  • Excellent communication skills with the ability to interact with children
  • The ability to work on your own initiative or effectively as part of a team
  • Patience and the ability to deal calmly and consistently with challenging behaviour
  • An awareness and understanding of the needs of children at various ages
  • A good understanding of child development
  • To be a positive and responsible role mode
  • The ability, desire and commitment to undertake training and continually improve your practice
  • To have an up to date enhanced DBS

Some experience of working with a range of children would be an advantage, such as undertaking voluntary work with children in your local community. However, you can still start your career with minimal experience as there is plenty of opportunity to acquire the necessary experience and qualifications in the workplace.

Starting salaries for those working in the sector for the first time will be close to national minimum wage, but may increase with experience and qualifications. Career progression can be achieved through undertaking college based or work based qualifications such as the QCF Diplomas in Children’s Care, Learning and Development, in addition to receiving continuous professional development training to keep you up to date.

There is plenty of scope to further your career and progress into roles with greater responsibility and higher financial rewards. For example, you could start out as a nursery assistant and with the right training and experience end up managing a nursery with overall responsibility for staff, recruitment and budgets. Other roles to progress into are Playgroup Leader; Nursery Manager; Cylch Meithrin Leader; Childminder.
A range of training options are available, including apprenticeships and college or work based qualifications.

See more at:

Tips on finding work can be found in the booklet
Social Care – A Great Career Opportunity.

View training available Find care providers Volunteering

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