Apprenticeship helped turn my life around - Thomas


A male nursery practitioner from Nottingham has revealed how striving for apprenticeship success has helped him turn his life around by overcoming anxiety and self-doubt - and encouraged more more men to follow him into the industry.

Progressing in the early years sector

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, Thomas Shaw has opened up on the personal battles he faced in recent years before making giant strides towards progressing his career in the early years sector.

Journey to promotion

Thomas, aged 21 and from Clifton, is currently a nursery practitioner at Ryan House Day Nursery, part of Grandir UK, and is on course to be promoted to room leader when he completes his level 3 early years educator apprenticeship with one of the leading UK training providers, Realise, in the next month.

Championing diversity

With the total workforce in the early years sector made up of just 2% males, Thomas is proud to be flying the flag for men working in nurseries, but admits he has overcome challenges to reach his current position.

He said: “When I started out in my level 2 apprenticeship, it was tough going and I fell behind in my work due to anxiety issues I had at the time.

“I was also struggling with self-doubt about whether I actually belonged in the early years sector as a male.

“But, with the help of my managers at the nursery and trainer at Realise, who have all been brilliant, I got right back on track and the apprenticeships have really helped turn my life around.”

Early achievement

Thomas continues: “Completing my level 2 qualification was a fantastic achievement for me and I’m due to finish my level 3 apprenticeship next month, about eight weeks earlier than anticipated.”

After studying for his first apprenticeship in August 2021, Thomas is thrilled with the progress he has made.

Making a difference

Thomas adds: “I love my job and couldn’t be happier forging a career in early years.

“Being a man working in a nursery is a fantastic experience and the children love having that balance of genders.

“Some of them won’t have a male role model in their life so they look up to you and it means a lot that I can potentially make a huge difference to their lives at such a young age. I’d encourage any man thinking of moving into the sector to go for it.”

Future aspirations

“I’m really proud of the progress I’ve made. The motivations of being successful in apprenticeships and working towards saving to move into a property with my girlfriend, are really driving my career forward.” Thomas proudly shares.


Realise provides early years apprenticeships to nearly 2,000 learners working across more than 1,000 settings in the UK.

If you would like to talk to us about an early years apprenticeship, please email