Apprenticeship Pledge to Address Seismic Early Years Challenge


The UK’s leading training provider in early years today committed to delivering more than 10,000 newly-qualified apprentices to UK nurseries over the next five years to help meet the “seismic” changes facing the sector – and pledged to attract more males to the sector.

Meeting Demand Amidst Sector Changes:

Realise has marked the start of National Apprenticeship Week by outlining its bold vision to help nurseries across the country deal with a dramatic rise in demand for nursery places following the expansion of government-funded childcare hours over the next two years, starting this April.

Scope and Accessibility of Apprenticeship Schemes:

The apprenticeship schemes will cover Levels 2, 3, and 5 and be open to people who are over the age of 16 and are either already employed by an early years setting, looking to move out of unemployment into the sector, or interested in transferring careers.

Focus on Attracting Male Workforce:

Part of Realise’s strategy to recruit new apprentices to the industry will focus around attracting more men to work in early years environments, with currently only around 2% of the sector workforce being male.

Insights from Realise’s Operations Director:

Karen Derbyshire, Operations Director for early years at Realise, said that nurseries ramping up their apprenticeship provision was the most viable way for settings to cope with the new regulations, with estimates that demand for childcare could rise by 15%, the equivalent of caring for 100,000 children full-time.

Karen said: “Apprenticeships have always been a vital part of the recruitment and retention strategy of any nursery but now they are more significant than ever with the seismic increase in demand for places on the way.

“The incoming regulations around childcare means attracting new recruits to the industry, as well as  maximising potential and upskilling those already working in early years, has never been more important.”

Campaign Launch and Goals:

Karen continues:

“We are launching a major campaign today to drive apprenticeships within the early years sector, highlighting the benefits and opportunities available from a learner and a nursery viewpoint.

“For the apprentice who may be new to early years or looking to upskill in the sector, it’s the chance to either launch or continue to grow their career and create new opportunities for progression and promotion – regardless of the learner’s age and without taking any drop in salary.

“For the nursery, it’s the opportunity to attract new recruits and ensure that the apprenticeship training is delivered in line with the culture and ethos of their particular setting.

“We want to make a career in early years appealing for all areas of society but we know how important it is to attract more men into the sector so that will be one particular focus in our campaign.

“Not only will it increase the potential number of new recruits we can bring into early years, it will also bring a more representative workforce and give the children attending nurseries a more balanced learning experience.”

Endorsement from Nursery Groups:

The commitment from Realise has been welcomed by a host of nursery groups across the country.

Grandir UK continually places apprenticeships at the heart of its people strategy and is one of more than 1,000 nursery groups that currently work in partnership with Realise for its training apprenticeships.

Angela Southworth, Professional Development and Training Lead for Grandir UK, said: “The industry as a whole has been facing multiple, complex staffing challenges for some time now and they are set to increase with the additional number of children that will be eligible for government funded hours.

“At Grandir UK, we currently have more than 180 apprentices on programme. They are critical to our people strategy, which will attract new talent into the early years sector and also provide valuable career progression opportunities for our existing teams.

“We recognise that our considerable investment in our apprenticeship programmes provides an essential pipeline to grow our skilled and knowledgeable workforce.”

Government Changes in Childcare Provision:

The new rules introduced by government will see a sizeable extension to the current provision which allows parents of three and four-year-olds to access a minimum of 15 hours free childcare per week.

From April, working parents of two-year-olds can access 15 hours of free childcare, with applications for this already open.

That offering will be extended to children from the age of nine months in September while, 12 months later, working parents of children under the age of five will be able to access 30 hours of free childcare a week.