Tuesday, April 08, 2008

My experience with Sydney childcare recruitment.

Today is my third day in a new centre. It is located near Chatswood. It takes about 40 minutes of travel by bus, as there is no direct train to this area, and I had to change buses halfway. Actually I do believe that Agent C has been sending me to further & further childcare centres then I was originally signed up to be. So far even without having a map, I have been able to find my way around to the various centres that I have been assigned to.

Perhaps my sense of direction is getting better? LOL. (Now, you're probably wondering what in the world is this crazy female talking about, I'm sure?).

Well, I was initially signed up for three days with this centre, but my agent called this morning to ask if I wanted to work the other extra two days more with them, to which I told her why not? Well anyway that is not the point of my entry here. The point of this entry is to write about my experience with the agents I have worked with till date.

In NSW as far as I am concerned, there are quite a number of childcare staffing agencies which one could easily find if they logged on employment sites like Seek.Com. It is among one of many sites used for Australian job opportunities. Some childcare staffing agencies have offices in each state, whilst some are just primarily based in one state only, and they do advertise heavily on these sites.

If my readers want to know, I am currently signed in with two childcare staffing agents. The former, Agent E, of which is a pretty big company with offices in Victoria & NSW, and the latter, Agent C, primarily based in NSW with links to shipping & a booming franchaise of learning centres.

As a disclaimer, please do not take my word as gospel, because in terms of what I know about both agents is only my experience and through hearsay. Perhaps you had a different experience, and if you did, do share.

Of both agents, my preference is for Agent C. This is primarily because it only has a small office and staff which are able to work effectively & effeciently. In my time working as a casual for them, I have come to know the "administrator" T. , who goes around personally calling & scheduling & arranging shifts. This makes the work & company more personable.

Every week Agent C's office sends out a text that asks all casuals whether they would be free for work in the next week. When there is an occurence, she would personally call the candidates. As a casual, I find it very assuring as I would know whom to speak to if I were to find myself in a difficult spot.

The former, Agent E gives the candidates a very intimidating impression. At least that is the "feel" that I as a casual get. They give candidates a common hotline number & candidates are expected to inform the office of their availability each week independently.

Agent E's office which is based in Sydney is very particular about following rules & regulations, and everything to the dot. Because the company is huge, I find that each time I would like to speak to someone in the company, I have been directed to 3-4 different personnel, and I have no idea who they are because they are all dealing with different areas in the company. In some ways, I would state that Agent E's work practice & ethics is good to what is considered Australian standards, & probably re-assuring for the parents & staff, but in some ways it can be rather very intimidating.

The company (at least the one based in Sydney) does not make it a practice to give out staff tags until the candidates have passed their Work With Children Check & even double-checks with the NSW Dept.of Community Services in regard to their qualifications. Agent E is very particular about their casuals following the rules, and also the centres which they send their candidates to meet up to their expectations as well.

Agent E would probably work very well in a very idealistic-perfect- world where children's rights are the top-most priority, but in the real & political world, not many people actually hold up to the same perspective. ( I shall probably share more on this later) As a casual who is already qualified with a Bachelor of Early Childhood from Queensland, however I think that I would have starved if I had been made dependent on Agent E in providing shifts & work vacancies.

I do not believe there is one right way of handling a business or following the rules, as I know that what one learns in the books at Uni is different from what is in the real working world, as you can see this from reading my previous posts. (You mean you don't? That just means you have to start back-log reading NOW!)

However I believe that my experience in working with both agents have enabled me to understand the dynamics & the different kind of requirements & staffing agencies that are available in the market, at least in terms of NSW. This is just a small sample of the market, but a representative of what is really out there!

In the end it really depends on the candidates on what they feel works best for them, because eventually they have to find that one company that they can actually focus & spend their time building & developing long-term work relations with for a better future for no one else but themselves.

Related entries:
5th May: Important things a Casual Relief Childcare Worker should know.

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