Victoria retains position as ECEC envy of Australia
For many in the Australian early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce, Victoria’s forward-thinking policies and heavy investment in the early years is enviable.
From the decision to offer universal access to all three year olds from 2022 to significant investment and professional development opportunities for those working in ECEC, there’s never been a better time for Victorians to take on or develop a career in the sector. We spoke with the Department of Education and Training to learn more about key initiatives and incentives for those who want to explore all that ECEC has to offer.
Driven by consultative strategy
The Victorian Government is committed to working with the ECEC sector to make working in early childhood as enticing as possible, listening closely to the needs of the sector and tailoring solutions to meet the challenges it faces.
Understanding that it’s teachers and educators who will make the Three-Year-Old Kindergarten roll-out a success, the Government asked those working in the sector to share their thoughts on how to improve ECEC.
The result of those discussions, Working Together to Build Victoria’s Early Childhood Workforce was released in April 2021, with stakeholders giving valuable feedback about current challenges and opportunities, roles and responsibilities, new partnerships and innovation across the sector.
In December 2021, a new policy paper, Next steps in Victoria’s Kindergarten Workforce Strategy was released, building on the findings of the first paper. Key initiatives from Next Steps are outlined below.
Early Childhood Educator Traineeship Program
One of the new workforce initiatives launched in direct response to the key findings of the strategy is the $2.2 million Early Childhood Educator Traineeship program, run in partnership with Jobs Victoria and Chisholm Institute of TAFE.
The traineeship program, which will create 150 educator positions across Victoria in 2022, supports those who want to work in the sector, as well as early childhood services that deliver funded kindergarten programs. It has a range of priority cohorts, including women from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, women over 45 years of age, and those who need special help to engage with paid employment as long term jobseekers.
Trainees complete a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, funded by the Free TAFE program, while undertaking a paid role in an early childhood service, in a “earn and learn” model. Under this model, educators not only gain a qualification while earning an income, but they also benefit from a range of additional wrap-around support services and mentoring.
For employers, the program offers a way to meet staffing requirements, address recruitment challenges, and balance out the need to rely on agency staff to meet fluctuating availability and enrolment requirements.
Services can engage one or more trainees, and access a range of incentives including:
- Excellent 50 percent wage subsidies through the Commonwealth Government’s Boosting Apprenticeship Commencements wage subsidy
- $4,000 cash back to services for the time needed to supervise and mentor trainees
- Ongoing mentoring, professional development and training for existing staff members to upskill them in working with trainees
- Program support to enable you to provide adequate supervision and mentoring to trainees on-the-job
- Up to $4,000 in additional incentives (conditions apply).
The trainee program has limited places, and enrolments are closing shortly. Interested services and potential trainees are invited to register their interest here.
Streamlined ECT degrees which allow Diploma-trained educators to earn and learn
Commencing from February 2022, the next phase of the Innovative Initial Teacher Education program is tailor made for those Diploma-holding educators who are looking to take the next step in their career and upskill to become an early childhood teacher (ECT).
In partnership with the Australian Catholic University, Deakin University and Victoria University, aspiring ECTs are being supported to get their degree more quickly (between 18 months and two years of further study) through a mixture of online, face to face and intensive study options, along with recognition of their prior study and professional experience.
Importantly in this program, educators are able to stay at work, continuing to earn while completing their qualifications.
Financial support packages are there to assist with course fees, study materials and other expenses, and paid study and placement leave may also be available, over and above what is offered by employers, to help students who otherwise could not afford to study to do so.
Eligible students are also able to access mentoring and coaching to help them be successful in their studies. The program is open to those:
- with a Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care or an equivalent qualification approved by ACECQA, and
- who are also currently employed by an eligible early childhood service that delivers (or intends to deliver) a funded kindergarten program in Victoria
- additional eligibility criteria will apply for each program option.
Enrolments are now open, with the program commencing from March 2022. Applications for these programs are made directly through the universities and you can read further about each program on the Innovative early childhood teaching courses webpage.
Financial incentives and scholarships
Victoria also has a range of generous scholarships available for those at all stages of their ECEC career journey, be that starting out, upskilling, or already studying an early childhood qualification.
Financial incentives of between $9,000 and $50,000 are available for early childhood teachers to take up positions in services delivering the nation-leading Three-Year-Old Kindergarten reform. To learn more about these incentives, available now, please see here.
“For me, the money was really helpful in covering the costs of moving. I get to do the job that I love, educating and helping young kids while living in a beautiful place. I couldn’t be happier with my decision to move.”
– Joanne Campbell, Hopetoun and Beulah kindergartens, relocation incentive recipient
For those who are wanting to study to become an ECT, be they school graduates, educators looking to upskill, or those who are wanting to change to a career working as an ECT, there are a range of scholarships available. For scholarship information, please see here.
Finally, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are wanting to become an early childhood educator or early childhood teacher, including those looking to upskill, support is available for Certificate III, Diploma, Bachelor and Masters studies. Information about these supports can be found here.
There’s never been a better time to work in ECEC in Australia’s most forward-thinking early years state. For more information about the opportunities presented in this story, visit vic.gov.au/kinder.
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