July 15, 2024

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A 22-year-old apprentice from Bangor has credited his apprenticeship through Urdd Gobaith Cymru for helping him to challenge stereotypes in the childcare industry.


Cian Owen, an Early Years and Childcare Apprentice at Ffalabalam nursery, is supporting the ‘Genius Decision’ campaign this Apprenticeship Week Wales, with the hope to inspire more people to choose a career that has a positive impact on the lives of young children.


He said: I had no experience in childcare before starting at Ffalabalam. I’m from a hospitality background, but always knew I wanted to work with children and be a positive influence on them. My apprenticeship has allowed me to learn everything I need to know while working on the job.


“Being able to earn money during my training was also one of the main reasons I applied for my apprenticeship. I had already been working full time so was used to a steady income, and I have bills to pay like my rent, insurances, phone contracts and so on. It’s allowed me to continue to live independently.


“It was quite daunting coming into an industry where I had little to no experience, but I have learnt so much from my colleagues. Tutors and training providers have been so supportive since I’ve started, and it’s really helped me build my confidence.”


Cian has found a wide range of benefits since starting at the nursery, including supporting the growth of the children.


“One of the main highlights of working in the industry so far has been having the chance to aid the development of children, especially since working with children who have additional needs. Seeing them grow and knowing you’ve played a part in that is so rewarding.


“You’d be surprised at how much you can pick up in a short space of time during an apprenticeship, you’re learning every minute working with the children, you’re creatively challenging yourself thinking about new play ideas, and you’re gaining a professional qualification.”


Being a male role model in the nursery has been one of the most unexpected positives of his role.


He added: “I’m one of very few male childcare apprentices in Wales currently. It’s so important to have a male presence in the nursery – especially for kids who may not have a male role model at home.”


As a Welsh language nursery, the staff communicate solely in Welsh, and with some of the children coming from a non-Welsh speaking home, being able to pick up the language has been very important.


Cian continued: “As a first language Welsh speaker, I’ve used my skills to teach the children basic words and sentences as they begin to learn how to speak. It’s amazing to see how quickly they pick up the language. They are like sponges and soak up so much information, and a lot of them can hold conversations in Welsh by the time they leave with us.


“It’s so important that we keep the Welsh language alive in our area, and we play a small part in preserving it through the nursery.


“Working with the children and helping them develop gives me a real sense of purpose. I want to develop my training even further over the next few years and become a school classroom assistant.”


Economy Minister, Vaughan Gething said: “Gaining skills and qualifications are vital to diversifying our future workforce and reaching our ambitious vision for Wales. Apprenticeship Week Wales is a great way to discover some of the opportunities that are on offer, so that you can find a career which you are passionate about and continue to develop your skills too.”


If you, like Cian, want to see what’s out there in the world of apprenticeships, the Apprenticeship Vacancy Service highlights opportunities currently available across Wales in a wide range of sectors.


For more information about becoming an apprentice, visit www.gov.wales/apprenticeships-genius-decision or call 0800 028 4844.