West Lothian College encouraging more men into careers in Early Years

West Lothian College has been awarded £22,600 funding from the Scottish Funding Council to support a Men in Early Years project to help address the gender imbalance in the early learning and childcare workforce.

The early years and childcare workforce is facing a skills shortage, with Scotland needing around 11,000 new childcare employees to meet the Scottish Government’s commitment to provide 30 hours of free childcare to eligible 2-year-olds and 3- and 4-year-olds by 2020. There has never been a better time to find employment as a childcare worker.

Men have been historically underrepresented in early learning and childcare - just 2% of nursery staff in the UK are male compared with 7% in Portugal and 23% in Denmark. The Men in Childcare project aims to help tackle this by increasing the number of men applying for and successfully completing Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) registered qualifications in early learning and childcare.

Matthew Clark, 26, from Livingston explains why he chose to study childcare at West Lothian College: “In the past childcare has been seen as a women’s role. That never put me off applying for the course. Once I decided that’s what I wanted to do I went for it and never looked back. There is so much more to childcare than simply looking after children!

“There’s absolutely no reason why men shouldn’t be able to do this job just as effectively as women and I haven’t been treated any differently just because I am a guy. When I complete my HNC I hope to move onto HND Childhood Practice and then university to study primary teaching. I really want to be a teacher.”

Claire Glen, Head of Childhood Practice at West Lothian College added: “Working with children is a rewarding, enjoyable and meaningful career, and I would encourage boys and men to consider a course in early learning and childcare at West Lothian College.”

“The funding will be used by the college to carry out research with secondary school pupils on why males do not consider studying early learning and childcare courses, to carry out taster sessions with pupils, and to promote the career options available to men.”

West Lothian College currently offers a range of early years qualifications including Foundation Apprenticeship (Social Services, Children and Young People) for S5 and S6 pupils, NC Early Education and Childcare, HNC Childhood Practice and HND Childhood Practice.

West Lothian College has just secured the first agreement of all colleges in Scotland for direct progression into the second year of Queen Margaret University’s brand new BA (Hons) Education Studies (Primary) degree. This will see students successfully completing HNC Childhood Practice this year being able to move straight into second year of the primary teaching degree at the university. 

To find out more about early learning and childcare courses at West Lothian College visit: Childhood Practice courses