Cole is a rarity in his chosen field

Cole Oakes is a recent graduate who shares his story as a male, in the early childhood education and care sector (ECEC) and encourages other males who are passionate about early childhood education to be a part of a fulfilling role. Cole also tells us what his studies and training include and his experiences and changes in children’s behaviour compared to when they were supervised by his female colleagues.

Australia-wide, early childhood education is an industry dominated by female workers. In fact, statistics from the Australian Government reveal that less than three per cent of all early childhood sector workers are male.[1]

Not perturbed by these figures, talented graduate Cole Oakes is preparing for a career as an early childhood educator in the Illawarra.

‘I have a lot of younger cousins and I’ve always been good with children. Some family members suggested I try childhood education as a career,’ Mr Oakes said.

This year Mr Oakes enrolled in a Certificate III Early Childhood Education and Care. He has since graduated and will commence a TAFE NSW Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care in semester two.

His training included practical experience through work placement and weekly play sessions at TAFE. Parents bring their young children to the simulated childcare facility each week to give early childhood education students real experience in working with families.

Chloe Lilly from Berry and Sophie Becke from North Nowra bring their children to the TAFE play sessions and both agreed that having a male childhood educator was a positive influence on the children.

‘In my opinion children tend to spend a lot of time with their mother at this young age and having a male educator brings a different energy to the carer and educator role,’ Ms Lilly said.

Mr Cole was able to enhance his learning by speaking with parents to get feedback and an understanding of how their child acts at home compared with the play sessions.

‘During my work placement, my female colleagues noticed the children’s behaviour would change slightly when I was working with them. The children would become more physical in their play.’

The nationally recognised qualification that Mr Oakes completed is the legal minimum requirement to be employed as a childcare worker. Students learn how to care for children and nurture their development.

‘I find when I work with children I’m very focused and, at the end of the day, I feel like I have done some important work. It’s a very fulfilling role and one I would recommend for anyone who is interested and passionate about childhood education,’ Mr Cole said.

This article was originally published on the TAFE NSW website, you can read it here.


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