NEC offers childcare qualifications by distance learning, and has a great relationship with the leading awarding organisation CACHE going back many years. When Chief Executive Rob Wye came in to see us recently, we took the opportunity to interview him and discuss what he thinks the future has in store for CACHE and the childcare and early years workforce.
Rob has been the Chief Executive since July this year, and has previously held positions in Government Departments, the Manpower Services Commission (MSC), the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) and most recently the Learning and Skills Improvement Service (LSIS). His move to CACHE follows the retirement of Richard Dorrance, former Chief Executive of CACHE.
The main challenges ahead for CACHE are to maintain market leading qualification in its traditional sector of childcare, and to grow in newly introduced sectors of education, health and social care, Rob explained. They are also looking at ways to grow in the international market, great news for overseas childcare and related settings. He also revealed that there are some new qualifications coming up for the health and social care sector, including for dental assistants and in due course pharmacy assistants. CACHE also plan on introducing a new level 2 qualification in food preparation and nutrition. This will no doubt be good news to childcare practitioners not least with the introduction of free school meals for reception, year 1 and year 2 students from next September.
It not just within CACHE that changes are happening, the children and young peoples workforce is seeing a lot of changes coming in, and others being discussed.
‘The big change on the horizon is around training for early years educators. The criteria for a full and valid level 3 qualification is changing, meaning that a new qualification is being developed,’ Rob told us.
What would he say to people unsure whether to wait for the new qualification, or to qualify now? ‘The government have made it very clear that existing qualifications will still be valid. Although the new Early Years Educator qualification is due next September, there has been no cut off date announced for the Diploma for the Children and Young People’s Workforce yet.’
Another change is that English and maths at grade C GCSE level is now required by level 3 practitioners. ‘I think that it’s right that level 3 qualified practitioners should have level 2 standard of maths and English,’ Rob said. ‘But I don’t agree that it should have to be a GCSE because this might block people that would otherwise make excellent practitioners.’
This year has also seen the introduction of the Adult Learning loans for anyone over the age of 24. ‘This has had little impact on registrations for childcare qualifications yet, although that is not what we expected,’ confirms Rob.
During his career spanning over 30 years in Education, Rob has done a lot of work to put vocational qualifications on the map. ‘It has been and continues to be a long haul to achieve equality of treatment between academic and vocational qualifications,’ he said. ‘One of the issues has been that ministers all come up through academic routes and often see vocational routes as “for other people’s children”. I think though, that this attitude is beginning to shift and we are beginning to see more and more work-based routes into professions.’
Rob formerly held a position at the Manpower Service Commission where one of his responsibilities was open learning. ‘The challenges with open learning are much different today than they were 20 years ago,’ he says. ‘Technology was basic then and has really come a long way, net-based in particular. It is easy for schools to be seduced by technology, for example some schools now give their learners iPads. The pedagogy now needs to catch up. There is huge potential for massive delivery and making use of the best advances in the world.’
‘Assessment methods are also sure to change with the technology, I expect we will see things like video capturing evidence, online simulations and other techniques used at a distance.’
The relationship between NEC and CACHE continues to thrive, and both organisations look forward continuing to work together in order to offer excellent quality childcare qualifications by distance learning. You can see the current CACHE qualifications offered by NEC here.