Could you be perfect for a job in childcare, playwork and early years? Five reasons to consider a role in this sector

New year is a time of year that prompts people to reflect on major aspects of their lives, including their career. People across the country may be taking time to review their work status and look for opportunities for progression, skills development or even a complete change. Whether you might be considering a career change, or looking for employment, the childcare, playwork and early years sector could provide an opportunity that’s just right for you.

Kelly Smith, a Working Wales careers adviser from Bridgend who covers the south central region, joins two people already working in the sector to tell us why the opportunities available within childcare, playwork and early years are worth consideration.

1. You’ll be in demand

Kelly says: “According to data source, Lightcast, demand for childcare workers in Wales continues to rise, with the number of online job vacancies having risen by 65% over the last two years. For example, there were nearly 500 job postings for nursery nurses in November 2022, and we expect demand for these roles will continue to rise over the coming years.

“Welsh Government estimates that around 20,000 people work in the childcare and playwork sector in Wales.

“There’s currently a shortage of staff in the sector, so there are numerous opportunities that you can apply your skills and qualifications to.”

2. It’s an environment to learn and develop

Braint Rees is a language and communications coordinator at the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years Cymru (PACEY Cymru) and has been able to gain vital qualifications and achieve promotions whilst earning a wage.

Braint, who is from Swansea, says: “Working in the childcare and playwork sector has allowed me to develop my skills and knowledge in so many ways.

“I decided to study my Level 3 in Childcare, Learning and Development and from there I went to work on as a nursery assistant for three years.

“Over the last two and a half years I’ve been in an office-based role and earlier this year, I moved to a slightly wider role supporting not only with Welsh language but also comms related work.

“Now I help support other childminders to grow their confidence and their businesses.”

Kelly adds: “There is Welsh Government funding available to help you gain qualifications, similar to Braint, to enable you to enter or progress in the sector.”

3. Let your passion and personality thrive

Kelly says: “If you enjoy working with children, have an empathetic nature and enjoy supporting others to flourish, this sector is perfect for you.

“People who work with young children tend to be caring and positive, as well as having bundles of enthusiasm to encourage, nurture and provide happiness in their day.”

Braint adds: “I knew I always wanted to work with children from a very young age.

“I have a lot of young cousins that I look after quite regularly and I think that’s where my interest and passion for working with children started.

“I would absolutely recommend it.”

4. You’ll be making a difference

Phoebe Wilson is the lead training officer at Clybiau Plant Cymru Kids’ Clubs and is passionate about the positive impact her job has on children in her local area.

Phoebe, who is based in Cardiff, said: “Playwork qualifications and skills are so vital in facilitating children’s play to support their happiness, wellbeing and their journey into a resilient adolescence and adulthood.

“I feel privileged to be able to deliver these qualifications to others and positively impact thousands of children, as well as progressing my own career and qualifications.”

5. There’s flexibility for movement, progression and promotion

Kelly concludes: “As you can see from Braint’s story, there are different roles you can do once you’re working in the sector. In addition to the wide range of exciting jobs available there are lots of development opportunities to be able to grow and move around.

“You’ll also have the chance to develop many transferable and critical skills that would be applicable to many different roles within the sector.”

Phoebe worked in a few different roles before her current role and tells us more about her career path: “I worked at a playscheme and youth club sessions where I quickly realised it’s older children, I had a passion for working with.

“I completed my qualifications in playwork and a degree in youth work and moved on as the youth, play and community development coordinator within the same organisation.

“I was approached to do some part-time teaching/training for a training company around playwork and youth work.  I really enjoyed sharing my knowledge and experience with others, and soon after applied successfully for my job with Clybiau.”

If you’re considering a role in childcare, playwork or early years or are interested in finding out more about the support available, you can arrange to speak to a careers adviser at Working Wales by calling 0800 028 4844, emailing workingwales@careerswales.gov.wales or using webchat on the website.