Practical Outcomes’ learners tend to share a common conviction for the influence that care roles can carry, particularly for early learning and childhood.
Duncan MacRae is the Chief Operations Officer of TheirCare, one of Practical Outcomes’ valued Outside of School Hours Care (OSHC) partners. Duncan is currently studying Practical Outcomes’ CHC50221 Diploma of School Age Education and Care.
We sat down with Duncan to find out more about why he’s going back to studying while working as the COO of an OSHC provider.
What made you want to study the Diploma?
There’s a number of different reasons why I wanted to go back to study. First and foremost was to understand what our educators are learning in the course so that we can continually improve the quality of our services.
Second is to understand the journey into our sector as a new educator. Like every other care-based sector in Australia, OSHC is facing a real talent shortage which is only going to get worse as demand for services increases. There are some huge challenges facing our sector, and the best way to start to get ahead of those challenges is understanding every part of a new educator’s journey to starting work.
Let’s take a step back to the beginning of your career. What got you into OSHC?
Years ago I did a gap year at an American summer camp program and worked as a camp coordinator. At the time we didn’t really have anything similar in Australia and it was incredible to see how the children were learning such valuable life skills through leisure activities. Being a part of that learning was life changing!
That kicked off my passion, and years later I left a career in advertising to pursue a dream of launching my own summer camp program in Australia.
There was a lot of success with the programs, but after a few years I wanted to find a new challenge and joined TheirCare to keep evolving the role that OSCH providers can play in our education system.
What makes you so passionate about the OSHC sector?
It really comes down to the difference you can make to the life of a child. Even though it’s leisure-based learning, there are some key life skills they can pick up in an OSHC environment. It’s both challenging and rewarding to play a role in that.
The impact that OSHC educators can make in children’s lives is something that is perhaps under-appreciated by people outside the sector. It’s really a personal mission, and a mission of TheirCare, to ensure people see the value that our educators can bring to children.
The other really important element of what we do in OSHC is as a starting point for the careers of future teachers and educators, child psychologists and family workers. This sector is critical in building the experiences of our future carers and educators, and I love how OSHC can play a role in shaping some of those foundational skills for them.
What would you like to change about the sector?
Lowering the barriers to entry for people coming into the sector is the biggest change that needs to take place.
OSHC has a direct impact on workforce participation, so addressing the talent shortages we face has a very real and far-reaching impact on the economy and the country more broadly. Getting people to change their perception of the value of OSHC will play a big part in these changes.
There are better and more streamlined ways to make sure we are getting well-qualified and motivated people into centres to meet demand for OSHC services, that don’t necessarily involve studying a full Diploma. That’s where I see our sector heading.
Finally, how has your learning experience been with Practical Outcomes?
Practical Outcomes has been fantastic. One thing we pride ourselves on at TheirCare is that, as the name implies, we really do care about the people that are part of our organisation. Practical Outcomes has been exactly the same; they care. The level of investment each trainer has for the learner, and their willingness to put in the effort to make sure everyone succeeds has been so encouraging.
As the Chief Operations Officer of TheirCare, it’s been tricky balancing study with my day job, but the team are great at both supporting and motivating me to progress through the course.
It’s certainly given me a great appreciation for the role that Practical Outcomes plays in developing our staff at TheirCare.