The End of the Road?
As I come to the end of a two-year Master’s degree in Leadership in ECEC, I find myself reflecting on my experiences and thinking about what lies ahead. As with many ECEC professionals, I have ideas and aspirations for the future of the sector in Ireland. However, I find myself wondering where do I, as a graduate, fit into it all? What opportunities exists for those who have channelled a huge amount of time, effort and personal sacrifice regarding money, time and family to further their qualifications in the sector? As I struggle to find clarity of thought, I am struck by the similarities of my current situation and that which may present itself to other practitioners over the next number of years as the Workforce Development Plan will require many to upskill from their current qualification to meet Core Funding requirements. What can you do with this qualification, how will it shape your future career in ECEC and, ultimately, will it be worth the money, time and effort which the journey requires?
What Opportunities Exist?
Don’t get me wrong, I love to learn, study, write, research and read so I have thoroughly enjoyed my academic studies to date. Yet, I cannot help but wonder, considering the current ECEC landscape in Ireland, where exactly do I fit post qualification? What opportunities are there out there for those who obtain a degree qualification to meet the objective within the First Five Government strategy of a degree led workforce by 2028? From my perspective, issues exist in relation to a lack of consultation with the sector when it comes to the formation of Government policy. With so many of the workforce qualified and experienced, why is this? Whether currently in practice, formerly in practice, degree qualified, or not but with years of valuable sectoral experience, where are the opportunities for ECEC professionals to drive and shape their sector?
Lack of Adequate Consultation
Given current discourse regarding the possible shortcomings of the Core Funding Model and the Workforce Development Plan, surely the Government should be reaching out to all of us who are qualified and/or experienced to feed into the development of the future of the sector? Instead new plans, policy objectives and funding models, which do not seem appropriate to meet the growth needs of the sector, land in our inboxes in the form of press releases without adequate sectoral consultation from those on the ground, at the coalface and in the know. The ECEC sector in Ireland is full of experienced, qualified and capable professionals who understand the nuances of how their sector works and the requirements for future development to meet the needs of all stakeholders.
Knowledge Management & Thought Leadership
From where I am standing the Government is failing to engage in necessary knowledge management by overlooking an un-tapped and under-utilised resource. You are that resource, as am I and all other experienced ECEC professionals who should be brought on board and appropriately consulted to bridge the knowledge gap between what works on Government paper and what will actually work in ECEC practice. The frustration of this under utilisation of valuable skills, knowledge and thought leadership that exists within the sector must make one wonder, what is the point of a degree led workforce if there will be little to no opportunity to impact and shape the future of the sector?
About the Author:
Paula Walshe is an ECEC trainer and placement assessor in the further education and training sector and a freelance writer. She currently holds a BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Education and will complete her studies for a Master’s Degree in Leadership for ECEC in 2022. Paula has extensive ECEC experience in both pedagogical practice and ECEC management. You can learn more about Paula’s work at her website (www.thedigitalearlychildhoodeducator.ie), where she writes a weekly blog on current topics in Early Childhood Education and Care in Ireland and provides useful professional and academic resources for students and professionals in this sector. Paula is also one of the creators of an ECE community of practice based on Twitter: ECE Quality Ireland (@ECEQualityIRL) / Twitter