St Nicholas acknowledges ECEC staffing challenges, responds with new partnerships

St Nicholas acknowledges ECEC staffing challenges, responds with new partnerships

by Freya Lucas

December 13, 2021

Early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider St Nicholas operates early childhood and outside school hours care services as an agency of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, and has acknowledged the challenges of attracting and retaining sufficient staff to service its operations. 

 

Speaking with local news source MNNews, the provider acknowledged that it has been “very difficult” to recruit staff in the regional areas of Muswellbrook, Scone, Denman and Jerrys Plains. 

 

With large numbers of parents and carers working long hours in the mines, manufacturing and agriculture, there is a high demand for care and education for young children, Erica Wilkinson, Business Manager for St Nicholas Pathways, the vocational education arm of St Nicholas explained.

 

To help combat these challenges and provide high-quality support for families with young children in these areas, St Nicholas was successful recently in securing the Sustainability Support Grant from the Community Child Care Fund (CCCF). 

 

“The Sustainability Support Grant is intended to help eligible childcare services operating in areas of limited supply improve the viability and sustainability of their service,” Fiona Mackie, Director of the Community Child Care Fund (Program & Delivery) outlined.

 

St Nicholas will use the grant in conjunction with its registered training organisation (RTO) partner the International Child Care College to introduce its CONNEX program in the Muswellbrook area. 

 

Typically, Ms Wilkinson said, those wishing to study ECEC in regional areas had to complete a traineeship or distance education, which may not suit individual learning styles, where more face to face personalised support is missing. 

 

The CONNEX program aims to combat this by offering a blended program of face-to-face, online, and workplace based training that leads to a nationally accredited, entry-level qualification in ECEC.

 

“Our trainer and assessor is on-hand twice a week in a class-based setting to support students’ understandings of the various concepts and skills needed for them to have a successful career in early childhood education,” Ms Wilkinson said.

 

Workplace experience is gained onsite with St Nicholas services, something she said is “a win/win” for students, families and St Nicholas as an employer. 

 

St Nicholas Pathways will also launch its Industry Immersion and School-Based Traineeship (SBAT) programs in the region in 2022, providing opportunities for school students to explore and pursue a career in early childhood education and care.

 

To access the original coverage of this story please see here

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