Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle extends ECEC reach with Pathways program
The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is expanding its early childhood education and care (ECEC) footprint via the establishment of the St Nicholas Pathways initiative in Maitland, which will be the first of its kind in the region.
The core focus of the Pathways initiative is a specialised training centre. Located in the former Maitland Ex-Services Bowling Club, the training centre, which will support those looking for work in the ECEC sector, will be co-located with a 70 place child care facility.
The Pathways initiative forms part of a broader investment by the diocese in ECEC, with more than $12 million allocated into child care centres across the Lower Hunter.
Speaking with local news source The Maitland Mercury, Diocese CEO Sean Scanlon said the intention of the initiative was to meet growing demand for qualified educators in the region, while supporting meaningful employment pathways for local people.
Mr Scanlon cited research indicating that the ECEC workforce is expected to increase by 14 per cent by 2021, leading to more than 36,000 new jobs on offer Australia wide by 2022.
The Pathways initiative will offer part-time traineeships for those in high school, and full-time traineeships and “industry immersion opportunities” for those adults returning to the workforce, alongside customised professional learning opportunities for those already qualified in ECEC.
The part-time traineeship for high school students is classified as a School Based and Apprenticeships Trainee (SBAT) program.
“One of the things that makes this initiative unique is the opportunity for students to undertake school studies, a traineeship and potentially gain a career in early childhood education and care with support from one overarching organisation – the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle,” Mr Scanlon told The Mercury.
Mr Scanlon outlined that the Pathways program had been developed with input from representatives from the ECEC sector, careers advisers, and school principals, to ensure the suite of programs was of high calibre.
The qualifications will be delivered by International Childcare College (ICCC), with the program for high school students being the first to begin accepting enrolments. Students will work towards their Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care while completing Year 12.
The qualification will be attained by students completing the theory component of their course online, with 100 days of paid training to be completed in one of the six St Nicholas centres in the Diocese.
All students, trainees and educators accessing Pathways programs will have the opportunity to complete workshop content and receive general support throughout their studies at the Pathways training facility,The Mercury noted.