Wodonga businessman makes large donation to attempt to solve ECEC crisis
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > Wodonga businessman makes large donation to attempt to solve ECEC crisis

Wodonga businessman makes large donation to attempt to solve ECEC crisis

by Freya Lucas

November 03, 2022

Jim Sawyer, a Wodonga businessman and former Chair of the Wodonga College of TAFE council, has donated funding to support a new initiative which will benefit the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector and attempt to create more early childhood professionals.


Wodonga TAFE and La Trobe University Albury-Wodonga will work in partnership on the new initiative which is part of a broader agreement that underpins the three-year pilot, ‘Grow Early Childhood and Human Services Careers Program’.


The program will facilitate students’ journeys from Certificate III to Diploma to Degree qualifications involving education providers, ECEC sector partners and mentoring support to students as they progress to their Bachelor qualifications.


Diploma and Degree students will have employment options to enable them to ‘earn as they learn’ and establish relationships with employers as they define their career paths. Sector partners involved in the pilot program will benefit from supported traineeships and upgrading of existing staff qualifications.


As a passionate advocate for education and the Wodonga region, Mr Sawyer said the aim of his collaborative project is to create meaningful pathways between TAFE and university for students.


“Both university and TAFE have their great strengths,” Mr Sawyer said. 


“University provides the research and higher theoretical and academic learning, and TAFE provides the foundation of knowledge and understanding, underpinned by practical hands-on learning and experiences. Joining these two together, whether it is pathways articulated into university from TAFE, or articulation from university to TAFE, will create fantastic learning and employment outcomes for students.”


Combining the power of TAFE and University, Wodonga TAFE CEO Phil Paterson, said, underpins the traineeship and sector model to be employed throughout the program.


“This means from Certificate III, Diploma to a Bachelor’s degree, students will garner ECEC sector and workplace experience, all whilst being paid. This is particularly important in our current employment market where choosing to study doesn’t mean reduced working hours and reduced incomes.”


The program will commence with a strong focus on ECEC, Dr Guinever Threlkeld, Head of La Trobe University’s Albury-Wodonga Campus explained, outlining the significant challenges in retaining a suitably qualified workforce. 


“ECEC is vital to individual lives and to economic growth. Together with Wodonga TAFE, we want to build on the strengths of the sector to support sustainable career paths and growth in this crucial industry,” she added.

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