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Image / Agenda / Business

Industry Insiders: ‘Our work as early childhood educators is not truly recognised’


By IMAGE
26th Sep 2023

Getty

Industry Insiders: ‘Our work as early childhood educators is not truly recognised’

Ahead of the planned childcare strike taking place today, Tuesday 26th Sept, we sat down with a Deputy Manager in a well-established creche to hear about her career, and why she ultimately loves the work she does.

Can you provide a brief overview of your industry and your current role?

I work in a very well established Creche as a Deputy Manager. 

What inspired you to pursue a career in this industry, and how has your journey unfolded so far?

As soon as I completed my 3-year Early Childhood Studies course in what was formerly known as Waterford Institute of Technology, I received my degree and was eager to start my professional career in childcare. 

I began working in a childcare centre during the pandemic. I have had several roles within the company. Firstly, I began working as an Early Years Educator, I then progressed into the role of a Room Leader. It was not long before I became a Senior Team Leader and now, I am currently enjoying the role of being a Deputy Manager. Over the years I’ve really enjoyed working so closely with the children and their families. I can truly say that I love my job and this makes walking into work easy every day. 

What are some key trends or emerging technologies that are currently shaping your industry?

There are a few key trends or emerging technologies that are shaping the early years. AIM (Access and Inclusion Model), Better Start, Siolta and Aistear (Curriculum) are amongst some of them. 

Could you share a memorable experience or project that highlights the unique challenges and opportunities in your field?

Unfortunately, one of the biggest challenges I’ve experienced is a very high staff turnover in the sector. This can be extremely stressful for the staff who wish to stay and continue to work. We’ve been required to work overtime on many occasions and have had to reduce hours due to staff shortages in order to care for all the smallies. People decide to leave their jobs in childcare mainly because they can earn more money elsewhere, although they may hold graduate degrees. It’s upsetting because working with young children is such a special and rewarding job. 

If you look on the bright side, there are plenty of opportunities to progress into a higher role as those positions are needed to be filled also ?

What are the most critical skills and qualities that professionals in your industry need to succeed?

It’s important to have patience when it comes to both working with the children… and the government. It is so important to show affection and positivity and to be encouraging, as well as being a role model for the little people you are surrounded by every day. 

 

How has the industry evolved over the years, and what do you forsee as its future direction. 

Only within the last year qualifications are recognised more. I would love to see this continue. I would also love to see more of a difference in pay when it comes to the different job titles within the settings. 

What are the most common misconceptions people have about your industry and how would you clarify or debunk them? 

Many people think that all we do is babysit. People mock and say that we’re playing games with children all day long – that that is all we do in our working day. Our work is not truly recognised. We do some much more than entertain. We are there as a support to your children to teach them how to develop many skills that they will continue to use through their lives. Many people forget that we spend a lot of time with the children during the week and that we have a big influence on them. 

Are there any ethical or sustainability considerations that are increasingly important in your industry?

Yes, there is certainly an increased emphasis on confidentiality, and on getting consent for things. There is also more emphasis on learning being child-led – so the children don’t have to do anything they don’t want to. 

If someone were interested in pursuing a career in your industry, what advice would you offer them to get started?

I would tell them to just go for it, and not to listen to any of the negativity people may tell them about working in childcare, remember the true reason you are working with young children and how special a job it is. Essentially, you are shaping the future, and being an important figure to the children. Be open minded, patient, believe in yourself.