A range of fully funded courses, worth up to £4.7m, aimed at upskilling nurseries and childcare providers are now available to professionals within the early years, childcare and play sector in Wales.
As part of the Progress for Success ESF programme, the Welsh Government is funding nationally-recognised qualifications at Levels 2 and 3 for individuals working in the childcare sector, with the aim of providing greater educational opportunities for children in Wales.
Itec Skills and Employment has been selected to deliver the programme across 18 local authorities in South, Mid and North Wales including Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire, Swansea, Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent, Flintshire, Wrexham, Cardiff, Newport and Monmouthshire.
The scheme has been introduced to help meet the Welsh Government’s new childcare qualification guidelines and upskill current employees in the next two years who are over the age of 25 and want to boost their careers with new qualifications and skills.
St Bride’s Major Playgroup has been running in St Bride’s Major for almost 40 years and provides Foundation Phase learning for children aged between 2 and 4.
Three staff at the playgroup have signed up to the programme and will be studying for apprenticeships. Yana Hughes, deputy playgroup leader, will be studying for Level 3 and her daughter Laura Hughes who works at the playgroup and Adele Mitchell, both playgroup workers, will be doing Level 2.
Yana Hughes said: “Everyone benefits from new skills and qualifications - it’s a win-win for staff, the children and their parents.
I’ve worked at the playgroup for 21 years so it’s important for me to keep up to date with my profession and be able to offer the best learning and development experiences for local young children.
“Both Laura and Adele are relatively new to the playgroup and they are both keen to start their careers in childcare so the more skills they learn, the better the opportunities for them to progress.
“It’s reassuring for parents to know that their children are being taught and looked after by staff with the right skills and experience.”
Among those eligible to take part in a fully funded course over the next two years are registered child-minders, those employed by a nursery, playgroup of after school club and any adults over 25 who haven’t previously had the opportunity to undertake a recognised Level 2 or 3 Apprenticeship in Childcare or Play.
Ceri Murphy, managing director of Itec in Cardiff, said: “We’re very pleased to be delivering this new scheme and look forward to being able to offer thousands of childcare workers in Wales the opportunity to gain higher qualifications
“Wales’ next generation are strongly influenced by nursery and play workers, child-minders, learning support staff and teaching assistants so it’s important to make sure they have the best opportunities to continue their professional development and feel confident in their roles.
“Often we work with school and college leavers to promote apprenticeships and Jobs Growth Wales placements for 16 – 24 year olds, but this particular scheme is specifically aimed at over 25s in the education sector.
“Giving adults the opportunity to learn more about their specialist sector, gain new skills and strengthen their abilities is at the heart of Progress for Success and we’re pleased to see a strong interest from childcare providers already signing up to the scheme.”
Funding is available for the following courses:
Foundation Apprenticeship (Level 2) in Children’s Care, Learning and Development
Apprenticeship (Level 3) in Children’s Care, Learning and Development
Foundation Apprenticeship (Level 2) in Playwork
Apprenticeship (Level 3) in Playwork.
Some courses are delivered through the medium of Welsh.
Employers and individuals wanting more information on courses, contact Itec Skills and Employment on 029 2071 3689.
Headquartered in Cardiff, Itec Skills and Employment is one of Wales’ largest providers of skills and employment services. Its team of 170 employees supports more than 5,000 learners and works in partnership with over 1,000 employers every year.
For more information please visit www.itecskills.co.uk.