Interview - Philip Blaker, chief executive, Qualifications Wales


New childcare, health and social care qualifications have been launched in Wales. Philip Blaker explains what this means for the early years sector

Philip Blaker
Philip Blaker

WHY HAVE YOU LAUNCHED THESE NEW QUALIFICATIONS?

This is an exciting time for anyone who wants to develop a career in childcare in Wales.

Our new suite of qualifications will establish Wales as a leader in this sector and will help to strengthen childcare at a time when its services provide a vital lifeline to communities and families across the country.

Qualifications Wales is a relatively young organisation – we were established in 2015 – and we knew that one of our very first tasks had to be to review the qualifications available in health and social care and childcare.

Given the importance of health and social care, and childcare, for people in Wales, we wanted to see if the qualifications taken by those who work in the sector were fit for purpose.

HOW HAVE THE QUALIFICATIONS BEEN DEVELOPED?

In reviewing the qualifications we gathered the views of employers, employees and tutors, to find out what they thought of the existing qualifications. We published our review of the existing qualifications in 2016 and came to the conclusion that we needed a new suite of qualifications to meet the needs of learners and employers in Wales.

The result is a custom-made, modern suite of 21 qualifications for the sector which replace well over 200 predecessor qualifications. We have collaborated with professionals and regulators in the sector and consulted widely to ensure these qualifications fully meet the needs of the sector.

HOW WILL THEY BE DELIVERED AND WHAT ARE THE TIMESCALES FOR THE CHILDCARE WORKFORCE?

The new qualifications have been developed by a consortium of two awarding bodies, WJEC and City & Guilds. The qualifications are being delivered through further education colleges and work-based learning providers and are being introduced in two phases; the first this September, with the second phase in September 2020.

WHAT DO THE CHANGES MEAN FOR LEARNERS WANTING TO PURSUE A CAREER IN EARLY YEARS AND CHILDCARE?

For learners wanting to pursue a career in early years and childcare, it means they will have new up-to-date qualifications that meet their needs, as well as those of childcare providers, children and their parents in Wales.

Young people in school will be able to take a new GCSE in Health and Social Care and Childcare, and a new A-Level supports a learner's progression to higher education.

The new qualifications are available both to new learners and to those who are already working – for example, in nurseries – who want to continue their studies via a work-based route.

From September 2020, further qualifications at Levels 4 and 5 will be available to support progression into specialist roles or into leadership and management.

These exciting new qualifications will provide learners and employers with confidence in the skills and knowledge that are being assessed. We feel sure that they will become the envy of the care sector in other nations.

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