UOW welcomes increased NSW Government investment in ECEC workforce
The University of Wollongong (UOW) has welcomed the NSW Government’s announcement that it will create a $281.6 million workforce package to attract and support early childhood teachers and educators to the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector.
The package includes early childhood teacher higher education scholarships of up to $25,000, VET scholarships of up to $2,000 and employer supplements for staff retention.
Associate Professor Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, Academic Director of The Early Years at UOW’s School of Education, said the announcement of increased investment in child development and family support is essential to ensuring a systemic shift in the way we support early childhood education.
“This commitment is a recognition of the developmental significance of the first five years of children’s lives and the need for a high functioning quality early educational sector,” said Associate Professor Neilsen-Hewett.
Acknowledging that a high-quality universal early childhood system is the foundation of any productive society, Associate Professor Neilsen-Hewett said the provision of quality early childhood education hinges on the strength of its workforce.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has placed significant stress on early childhood educators – we have experienced high rates of stress and workforce attrition,” she explained.
“We are currently experiencing what can only be described as a workforce crisis. The current shortage of early childhood teachers is constraining the capacity of the sector.”
The Associate Professor hopes that the new initiative will help to strengthen the capacity of the sector and increase the number of professionals who choose ECEC as a path.
While the University welcomed support for those new to the profession, UOW’s Executive Dean of the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities Senior Professor Sue Bennett said it was also important to consider how to continue to support those already working in the sector.
“I’m looking forward to learning more about how this will play out for our sector and, more importantly, how it will enhance pathways into pre-service teacher education.”
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