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Revitalising Early Years: Gill Mason on Empowering the Future and Ensuring Quality Childcare for All

Across April, VTCT is exploring the challenges facing the Early Years sector and how we can collaborate to find solutions to revitalise it. Our deep dive will culminate in an hour-long discussion featuring insights from industry experts and actionable takeaways to enhance the sector. To secure your place, sign up here.

In the latest of our series, Kids Planet Training Academy Director, Gill Mason shares her vision for empowering the future and ensuring quality childcare for all.

As Head of Training and Development at Kids Planet, I’m deeply invested in ensuring that every child has access to high-quality childcare. I welcome the government’s commitment to providing more funded childcare places. This initiative not only acknowledges the vital role early years education plays but also offers much-needed support to families grappling with childcare costs. However, despite this optimism, it’s vital to acknowledge the challenges that come with such efforts, especially concerning staffing and capacity.

Building a Sustainable Future

Expanding access to childcare isn’t just about opening more nurseries; it requires a comprehensive, long-term strategy. This strategy must transcend political cycles, ensuring sustained support and funding for the future. Yet, one of the most pressing challenges we face is the shortage of qualified childcare professionals. Apprenticeships present a promising solution, offering a pathway for individuals to enter and excel in the sector.

Empowering Through Apprenticeships

At Kids Planet, we understand the transformative potential of apprenticeships in addressing workforce shortages. With 190 nurseries and diverse head office functions, recruitment is an ongoing effort. To attract diverse talent, we’ve introduced innovative roles, such as our apprentice sports coach position, which appeals to individuals with varying qualifications and experiences.

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Nurturing Talent, Fostering Growth

Apprenticeships not only address immediate staffing needs but also contribute to long-term employee retention. Research highlights the connection between low staff turnover and the provision of high-quality early years education. By investing in apprenticeships, we send a powerful message to our existing employees: we’re committed to their professional development and growth. Moreover, apprenticeships align with our values of diversity and inclusion, enabling us to cultivate a workforce that reflects the communities we serve.

Supporting Apprentices Every Step of the Way

To support apprentices’ transition into the workforce, we established our internal Training Academy in 2018. This academy offers apprenticeships in early years, leadership and management, and sector-specific courses. Through mentorship and hands-on experience, apprentices gain invaluable insights that complement classroom learning. We recognise the importance of nurturing a skilled and engaged workforce, as they play a pivotal role in shaping positive life trajectories for children.

Championing Diversity and Inclusion

At Kids Planet, we celebrate the richness of diversity and actively promote inclusive cultures. From encouraging equal opportunities for individuals of all backgrounds to championing gender diversity in the workforce, we strive to create an environment where everyone feels valued and respected. Our recruitment efforts to encourage more male apprentices resulted in a World Skills Award for promoting inclusive apprenticeships.

A Testament to Partnership

Our journey with VTCT as an End-Point Assessment Organisation has been invaluable. Their responsiveness and expertise have supported us in navigating the complexities of apprenticeship standards and assessments. Together, we’ve worked towards amplifying the sector’s voice and fostering collaboration within the early years collective.

Empowering the Next Generation

Expanding access to childcare isn’t just a governmental initiative; it’s a collective endeavour that requires collaboration and innovation. By investing in apprenticeships and championing diversity and inclusion, we’re not only addressing immediate staffing needs but also building a sustainable future for our children and communities. As a sector, we must commit to unlocking opportunities and bridging the gap in childcare access, one apprentice at a time.

Join the conversation with me and influential sector experts on 30th April as we discuss practical strategies for maximising Early Years for EPAOs, Training Providers and Employers.

Secure your place now