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Fay Gibbin

Busy Bees Training

Training Manager

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Training for the future: The challenges faced by today’s school leavers


Fay Gibbin offers her views and advice on the many challenges faced by school leavers when considering which academic path to take – especially in light of the current lack of support available to them when choosing their career options.

In a competitive employment market saturated with young, qualified and ambitious job seekers, it becomes increasingly important for school leavers to embark upon quality training that will provide a solid foundation and aid progress in their chosen career paths.

The many and varied options available can both inspire and intimidate aspiring young professionals. The days of stringently following the traditional path of GCSEs, A-Levels and ultimately university are in decline as an array of post-16 career-focussed qualifications that cater for varying academic abilities are being favoured by a growing number of students and industries alike.

It has been well-documented that individual pupils learn and retain information in varying ways, and work-based training offers a more practical approach to learning, as well as providing an invaluable insight into their career of choice.

Informed advice in short supply

Work-based qualifications, such as apprenticeships and BTECs, are assessed through coursework or competency in work-based situations rather than exams, appealing to those with more practical than academic ability. It has been my experience, along with many colleagues and peers, that apprenticeships are often perceived as sub-standard when compared with academic courses. This perception isn’t helped by the lack of information schools have regarding this worthy method of training which is at best limited and at worst outdated.

In terms of our dealings with some Connexions services, we have quite often found they are unaware of the changes made to childcare apprenticeships in September 2014 and the new GCSE entry requirements, therefore are unable to provide students with well-informed, up-to-date advice.

To make an informed decision on a student’s future and to determine the right path for them, it is vital that schools impart in-depth and independent advice and guidance, particularly around funding options and the many progression routes available. However, largely due to lack of funds, many schools are unable to provide this level of information and I have found that many school-leavers are unaware of work-based training and what it entails.

Parents are highly influential in steering their children towards the right career choice, but again very little information is currently available to help them offer this support and guidance. I have had many conversations with parents who wish to learn more about apprenticeship qualifications, particularly the employment routes and progression available after an apprenticeship has been completed, revealing the urgent need for parental support.

Empowering students to make the right choice

As well as providing informative materials, one-to-one advice and impromptu support, students need encouraging and empowering so they can use their initiative to conduct their own research. As well as covering the basic groundwork, such as researching job profiles, industries and course content, students will benefit greatly from dedicating time and effort into going that extra mile.

Within a work placement students get to see the 'warts and all' of the job that they believe is for them, and tap into a selection of employees for quality insider knowledge regarding the training, expertise and successful progression routes available.

Challenging the 'hair or care' stereotype

It’s time that the care industry as a whole combined its energy and resources and looked at ways of combatting the debilitating ‘hair or care’ reputation it has put up with for so long. This common misconception that a career in early years education is an easy option for low achievers is unfortunately still at large with parents, teachers and even some career advisors. What’s more, high achievers that might have the personality, mindset and passion for the job are actually dissuaded by casual comments such as ‘oh, you could do so much better than that with your qualifications.’

Many schools fail to recognise, or at least purport to students, that completing an apprenticeship is a perfectly acceptable route to embarking upon a degree course. It is so often wrongly assumed that those pursuing a career in childcare lack the aspirations or academic ability to achieve a degree. This has a direct impact on students who enrol on courses, both in terms of dissuading capable candidates from the outset and lowering the morale and confidence of up and coming childcare professionals.

For those who work within the childcare sector already know, it is an incredibly challenging and rewarding career with many different roles and promotion opportunities available.

A call to action

It’s a huge step in the right direction to see the recent TV advert promoting apprenticeships. It is the first time an advert of its kind has been screened on a major broadcasting platform, and I’m sure we will see a rise in the uptake of apprenticeships across all industry sectors.

I believe that the industry needs to invest in quality people. We need to stand united and raise the bar. To continue to improve our service for families and outcomes for their children, we need a continuum of dedicated, smart and intelligent practitioners to deliver the exceptional childcare we have built a successful and viable business upon. It is vital that we attract these individuals and engage them in a lifelong career with opportunities and invest in their future through training and career development.

Fay Gibbin is training manager at Busy Bees Training. A brand new range of ‘careers advice’ resources designed to assist secondary schools in providing informed and comprehensive information on choosing a career within the Early Year’s sector – all available to download from the website

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Fay Gibbin

Training Manager

Read more from Fay Gibbin

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