The council has taken on 14 Early Learning and Childcare Modern Apprentices this year as part of its drive to increase its early years workforce in preparation for doubling the amount of free nursery provision available across the area by August 2020.
Ross McIntosh started his role at Crookfur Nursery Class in October and the children are already looking up to the 6ft 4in apprentice.
The 31-year-old, who has taken on a wide range of roles since leaving school, now believes he has found “the perfect job” and is looking forward to developing his career within this exciting sector.
He said: “I left school and had no idea what I wanted to do. I started a job in a call centre and then managed a betting shop, did security at the London 2012 Olympics, as well as others. But last year I decided it was time for a change and was really interested in starting a career in early years because I thought it would be extremely rewarding. I initially considered a college course but when the chance came up to do this Modern Apprenticeship I jumped at it, as it gives me a chance to get hands-on experience, whilst also gaining a qualification which will hopefully allow me move on to a Child Development Officer role.”
Ross admitted that it was the chance to help shape the learning of young people which really appealed to him when considering his next career move.
He said: “I’ve got a seven-year-old niece who I helped look after quite a lot when she was younger and I loved teaching her things and seeing her learn. So when I was looking for a change of direction I realised that early years is such a worthwhile career and something I really wanted to pursue. It’s really rewarding seeing the children progress and at the end of every day I go home feeling like I’ve made a difference and achieved something – which wasn’t the case in all my other jobs. Working in early years certainly feels like the perfect job for me.”
The MA involves working in the nursery full-time, with one classroom based day once a month to focus on a series of projects which are required to be completed as part of the qualification.
As a result of changes being introduced by the Scottish Government, the council is required to provide increased free childcare for all three and four-year-olds and eligible two-year-olds by 2020.
Local authorities currently provide 600 free hours and this will increase to 1,140 hours, which is in effect a rise to 30 hours per week, matching the amount of time children spend each week in primary school.
As well as this requiring the council to increase the number of nurseries, more than 100 additional Child Development Officers (CDOs) will also be needed, with MAs one of the approaches to developing the required staff.
Councillor Paul O’Kane, Convener for Education and Equalities at East Renfrewshire Council, said: “Our phased approach to introducing increased free childcare is already supporting 100 families across the area, but as we move towards full roll-out we need to continue developing our own workforce to help support the changes. The recruitment of 14 Modern Apprentices will provide us with staff trained in our own nurseries, with an understanding of our approach to providing quality childcare for all. It’s fantastic to see that Ross has settled into his new chosen career so well and I’m sure the children are loving getting to know him. Early Years is such a rewarding career and with so many opportunities in the coming months, it really is a fantastic time to get involved.”