G8 increases university scholarships to boost ECEC quality
G8 Education has taken a proactive approach to persistent workforce challenges in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, specifically in terms of early childhood teachers (ECTs), through the second year rollout of its flagship Bachelor Scholarship Program.
Offered to Diploma-qualified educators already working for G8 Education, the scholarship program supports those who are wanting to upskill in their career by undertaking a Bachelor level qualification with one of three partner universities – Macquarie University, La Trobe University and Queensland University of Technology (QUT).
When first offered in 2019, more than 150 applicants put their names forward for a scholarship through the initiative, which provides both financial and time-based support to those who undertake an early childhood education degree.
Despite the additional challenges posed to tertiary education by the COVID-19 pandemic, successful students from within the initial cohort have maintained progress through their studies, juggling working in unprecedented times in the sector, parenting duties and home schooling and continuing to work toward their degree.
Programs popularity continues in 2020
Applications for the 2020 cohort reflected the popularity of the program, with more than 150 applications received and over 100 accepted into the 2020 cohort.
Speaking about the program G8 Practice Development Manager Jane Dunstan said the success of the scholarships initiative had exceeded expectations.
“We were confident when we launched the scholarship that our team members would welcome the opportunity to take their passion for early childhood education to the next level, and the response has been fantastic,” she said.
As well as supporting the provider to manage the demand for ECTs across its services, the program is an opportunity for G8 to reward and honour the commitment of its educators, and support their career development.
Guidance, mentoring and support
While there is no minimum tenure criteria, in terms of being accepted into the program, there are specific shortlisting criteria which Area Managers complete in order to ensure that successful applicants demonstrate a range of skills and behaviours to increase their chances of success in the degree.
A true commitment to the ECEC sector, Ms Dunstan said, was an important component, along with exemplifying G8’s core values, performance as a high quality practitioner, and willingness to commit to working as an ECT.
Once the scholarship applicants commence the program, the study bonus structure incentivises students to progress, graduate and remain with G8 well into their roles as ECTs, with study bonuses being paid across three milestones, with all graduates from the program guaranteed an ECT role at G8.
In 2020, the level of support offered through the scholarship has been increased. In addition to $15,000 in study bonuses, $600 a year for study materials, and wages paid during placement, scholarship recipients will now also be paid for study time and exam days.
This change, Ms Dunstan said, was driven by the current students’ feedback about needing more time to complete their studies without needing to work directly with children that prompted the introduction of dedicated ‘study time’ and paid days off to sit exams.
Study support and mentoring is provided to Scholarship recipients through G8 Education’s partnership with education enterprise, Future Tracks
With education and training having been identified as one of the top four growth areas for jobs in a post- COVID economy, and with ECTs being in high demand as workforce shortages continue, given the introduction of minimum standards for long day care centres and preschools at the beginning of the year, the future of the ECT program for G8 Education looks bright.
Applications for the program have been strongest from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, with good numbers in Western Australia, and increasing numbers in the Australian Capital Territory and South Australia, a reflection of the strength of the program.
As the program moves forward, Ms Dunstan said, the focus is on ensuring the scholarship offering is “as compelling and valuable as possible” and perhaps expanding the higher education opportunities offered by the provider as G8 starts to reach its ECT goal numbers, and produce a strong pipeline of future ECTs in Bachelor positions.
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