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Rise in male childcare students

By Brendan McDaid

The number of young men registering to study childcare at one of Northern Ireland’s main colleges has more than doubled in the past year, new figures show.

The upsurge in interest among men has been attributed to various reasons, including the recession, as men examine fresh employment options.

The erosion of traditional male and female gender stereotypes is also said to have played a part in changing social perceptions.

The changes could spell the end of the stereotype of Ulster fathers who are often perceived as unable or unwilling to change a nappy or push a pram.

The number of young men applying for childcare courses across the North West Regional College’s Derry, Strabane and Limavady campuses has soared.

And the total now enrolled on the North West College’s full-time and part-time early years courses has shot up from 35 in the 2010/11 academic year to 79 this year.

College chiefs are now predicting that the female-dominated worlds of creches and classroom assistants are likely to become much more gender balanced over the next few years.

The surprising increase in male enrolments is especially noticeable among young men who have recently progressed from secondary education. Many have now decided to take up a career in providing support, care and development for young children.

The students are availing of a wide portfolio of vocational course options, available from basic entry level through to higher education diplomas and foundation degrees.

The range of full-time and part-time courses are attracting a diverse range of students, from school-leavers, to jobless men and those looking for a career change.

Course co-ordinator Mary Adeyinka said a growing sense of confidence appeared to be a driving force behind the recent trend.

“Some people think that a career in this area is suited only for females, but this is not the case at our college,” she said.

Adam Hetherington from Ardmore in Derry said he had always wanted to follow a career in childcare. “I wasn’t really sure as I had thought that it was only for girls,” he said. “But North West Regional College helps you achieve your ambition.”

Factfile

North West Regional College’s Early Years Course options include Level 2, 3 or Higher Nationals in Playwork, Children’s Care Learning and Development, either full-time or part-time. Many will include involve work placements with local employers providing students with an insight into professional practice. The college is seeking applications now.

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