From education to employment

National Childcare Week Sees Blunkett Seeking Men Taking a “Real Role” In Childcare

The launch of National Childcare Week saw David Blunkett, the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, stressing the vital role that men can play in childcare.

As he visited one of the Sure Start centres in south London, Mr. Blunkett raised the issue of access to affordable and good quality childcare facilities and emphasised the importance of this provision to single parents returning to the workforce. He said that men have a role to play in this, allowing them to take a positive step back into the workforce and at the same time providing youngsters with a positive male role model.

A Positive Balance

Mr. Blunkett also met Chief Executive of the Daycare Trust, Susan Crane, as they launched a new initiative to help employers to encourage their employees to achieve a better balance in their work life.

Mr. Blunkett said: “Only two per cent of those currently working in childcare are men, yet there is much they can give to the profession and that it can give to them. Recruiting skilled people to work in childcare is a key priority, butit is also important to get a diverse workforce to enhance childrens experiences and raise their awareness of others as role models from an early age.

“Good quality childcare can have a positive impact on childrens development, improving both educational and social outcomes and is also essential to help break down the barriers that stop lone parents getting a job.”

The Government Invests

Mr Blunkett pointed out that the Government have already committed substantial resources to this issue, saying: “The Government has already funded a substantial expansion in childcare in the private, voluntary and public sectors, with the creation of more than 1.2 million new registered childcare places since 1997. And we pledged last year in the Spending Review to establish a network of up to 2,500 childrens centres by 2008 so that all young children and families in the most disadvantaged areas have access to one.”

He praised the Daycare Trust’s new initiatives, commenting: “I welcome the new guide from the Daycare Trust as its crucial for employers to assist in filling the 600,000 job vacancies by recruiting parents who have childcare responsibilities into the workforce.” However, he recognised that there remained much work to do, and said that in his view the best way forward was to help more lone parents gain “self ““ esteem” and set a good example to their children through re ““ entering the workforce.

A National Programme

Mr Blunketts comments encouraging men into childcare professions coincided with a national campaign by the Department for Education and Skills running throughout June to attract more people into childcare, particularly men. It will emphasise how much men have to offer to this profession but will also appeal to other under represented groups to get involved, such as ethnic minorities and people with disabilities.

Around 160,000 people need to be recruited to work in childcare by 2008 and the best way of achieving this is to attract people from as wide a range of backgrounds as possible.

Jethro Marsh

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