Australia-wide, early childhood education is an industry dominated by female workers. Statistics from the Australian Government reveal that less than three per cent of all industry workers are male.
Not perturbed by these figures, talented TAFE NSW Nowra 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 NSW Nowra.
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 NSW Nowra play sessions and both agreed that having a male childhood educator was a positive influence on the children.
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.Cole Oakes
"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 Oakes 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 Oakes said.
According to the Australian Government's Job Outlook research, more than 36,000 new job openings in early childhood education are predicted across the country by 2022.