A career in residential childcare really could be the one for you - Scott McCulloch

In the midst of a pandemic with many people finding themselves forced to change jobs and career paths, the UK Government published its retraining agenda accompanied by an online career quiz.

Scott McCulloch, Operational Manager at Spark of Genius, member of The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition
Scott McCulloch, Operational Manager at Spark of Genius, member of The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition

A mixed feedback was encountered as some found it insulting that jobs in the arts were deemed lower than tech jobs and others found humorous anecdotes in the alternative career paths suggested by the quiz results.

Beyond its novelty, a question came to mind that I would like to pose to you: Could you work in residential childcare? If your answer in no, please take a moment to ponder whilst I tell you a little bit about my story.

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When it comes to changing career paths, most stories are around the “one in a million”. For instance, you hear glamorous stories of footballers becoming world famous after grafting on building sites and on factory floors in their younger days after having been overlooked all their lives. However, it is rare to hear testimonials where history worked the other way around; even though the reality is that most footballers do not make enough money to retire in their mid-thirties.

Take my testimonial for instance. I was a professional footballer before I had to start “real” work that did not involve a few hours of training a day. I had a reasonable career, however like most former players I needed to quickly find paid employment after the legs began to hurt too much and the strips started to get too tight. I stumbled through various career options, until the opportunity arose to join the care sector, and I soon found myself in the most rewarding, satisfying and gratifying sector imaginable.

I commenced working in a residential childcare establishment on a sessional basis whilst I was still playing football. I quickly found that I had an aptitude for this role and soon began to really embrace the responsibility of working with one of the most maligned groups in society, as these young people were and remain some of the most troubled and traumatised individuals imaginable.

However, something lacking was the theoretical knowledge behind the job and it became evident I needed the required qualifications to support myself in the role and progress within the sector ladder. To achieve these, I also had to address the preconceived stereotype regarding the intelligence of footballers. I will admit that I left school at the age of 16 to pursue a career in professional football and, despite being academically sound, I did not achieve my full potential. Do you sense a tinge of regret?

Through various forms of support I achieved the required qualifications and soon became a fully registered and qualified residential childcare worker. Since then I have gained further qualifications allowing me to work my way through various promoted posts, until finding myself in a Head of Operations role 18 years later. I do not only consider myself fortunate to have stumbled into this sector, but proud to have made a second career within it.

What can be more rewarding than watching young people grow and flourish into responsible adults? What can be more rewarding than witnessing a young person make good choices and achieve positive outcomes? What can be more rewarding than watching a young person focus on proving some people right, rather than some people wrong? What can be more rewarding than helping a young person change the direction of their life map?

The message I’m trying to convey is that, if I can successfully change careers, so can you. Now, I will finish it by asking you again: Could you work in residential childcare?

Scott McCulloch, Operational Manager at Spark of Genius, member of The Scottish Children’s Services Coalition

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