Working and Childcare – is it a mission impossible?

Domestic and Commercial Glazing Manufacturer, Supplier and Installer

Working and Childcare – is it a mission impossible?

Major issues

One of the major issues affecting working families during this time of the year is without a doubt the issue of childcare during the school shut down periods.  Where to go with them, how to find suitable child care, the cost associated with these days and more all come into play – When you have more than one child, these costs can quickly escalate.

At Howells, have been looking into this as many of us have children currently in primary and secondary education and find the coming months a nightmare filled with childcare dilemmas.  This is a problem for most working parents, especially those without the benefit of a ‘grandparent care’ facility.  Childcare costs vary from the age of the child and the type of environment that they attend; A full time nursery for preschool children is around 34.00 per day.

Primary School Children

When children turn 8 years old, they then fall into a different category and have to rely on childminders, often in their own homes.  This can be a worry for parents – how do you know what is going on when you are not there?  When the children get to this age, they often want to do summer activity clubs, but these do not run for the entire working day and you have to drop them off mid-morning and pick up mid-afternoon.  What are you meant to do with work either side of this?  The working parent seems to have to make tough choices all the time.  ‘Does my child have to miss these activities, or do I need to miss work and all the implications that this involves’?

2 or more children

There is also the added issue of the ‘2 or more children’ problem, where there are such sufficient age differences that the parent cannot get them into the same system of day care.  What do you do when one wants to do the activity club, and the other is too young and needs full time care?  Sometimes it can feel like work fits in around childcare and not the other way round.

Tracey Jackson, Marketing Manager here at Howells Patent Glazing said, “ I do not think that the councils have thought hard enough about this problem. When children are under the legal age to be left at home all day, parents or carers should be offered REASONABLY priced, day long child care at their schools.  After all, the children live within a reasonable distance from these places of education and therefore it should not be difficult to utilise this type of care.  These facilities are few and far between, and costs are in line with preschool childcare… way out of the pocket of the average working parent, especially those with more than one child”.

Bumblebee vouchers

The government are trying to help parents with schemes such as the tax relief Bumblebee tax vouchers, where you save around 25% of the child care costs by purchasing the vouchers directly through salary sacrifice. For under 13’s the choice is wide, but not always practical if you work long hours.  The most flexible arrangement seems to be a mix of all options, a childminder/a grandparent/or friend who will not object to taking children to clubs and then looking after siblings, or a single option of child care facility where the children stay in paid care until they are old enough to be left at home; usually at around 14 years old, but this depends on the child.

Work Experience

Another option available to parents and children is to gain valuable work experience, similar to those carried out during term time in year 10, whilst sampling different trades.  This would be helpful in deciding future career paths, picking options and earning a little bit of pocket money.  It does take a lot of planning as the authority needs to approve the work place to ensure that it is a fit and safe environment, and that the working time does not exceed a maximum of 5 hours per day.  This could mean anything from a paper round, working in an office, in a shop or in a manufacturing environment, just like Howells Patent Glazing.

As a company, we know that the future of manufacturing lies in the new generation, and get a true buzz out of showing young people what it is to work in manufacturing and the construction industry.  As a country, the UK has a major skills shortage and unless it is addressed, it will leave a hole in the industry that cannot be filled internally.  This is something that we can all do, if we can spare the time to train, involve and educate young people.  This year alone, Howells Patent Glazing have given meaningful employment to eight children aged between 13 and 15 during both the school work experience week and several days over the summer holidays.

Mentoring a young person

Key points from Howells Patent Glazing to consider if you wish to mentor a young person:

  • Find out what their interests are and then place them either in the office or the factory accordingly.  There will be no benefit to anyone if you put someone who wants to work in marketing on the shop floor learning about roof bars.
  • Draw up a flexible training plan. For this, we tend to overload the requirements as everyone works at their own pace and they have different learning journeys.  There is no benefit to us or the child to make it a race and ruin their personal learning curve.  You will also need to factor in a member of staff to sit with them to coach and mentor them through their journey.
  • Make it sound exciting! It saddens us when people say, “I only work in manufacturing”. Manufacturing and construction is how this country was built.  Let’s get the excitement back into making a difference, building a greater Britain.  The youth are our future, give them a trade and they will use it.

It is important to note that any training plan has to follow the guidelines of the local councils employers guide, which stipulates what can be done and for how long.  The role of the department is then looked at and all available work that fits into the criteria is put into a list and against that the training that will be required to fulfil that job.  This is then broken down into a diary type form, but is still flexible to allow for a nurtured approach.  Once they are trained, they can carry out functions which can monitored and checked for accuracy, feedback given and then the learner can move onto another section.

Tracey Jackson concluded, “It is so important to give back with this type of training, and giving a positive spin on manufacturing to young people is definitely the way forward”.

Upskilling the workforce

We have a strategy to upskill all of our workforce. This involves all of our fixing teams, our admin/sales staff and our factory floor staff. In total, out of 37 staff, 28 are either about to or are undertaking a work placed NVQ.  This is an impressive statistic, and we have been shortlisted twice for an award to mark our positive training efforts via Midland Insider and now with National Apprenticeship Awards 2016.


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