ECEC numbers boosted with innovative program
The Sector > Quality > Professional development > Pre-traineeship program proves a big hit in Tasmania, securing professional pathways

Pre-traineeship program proves a big hit in Tasmania, securing professional pathways

by Freya Lucas

August 30, 2023

A Tasmanian program giving participants a taste of life when working in early childhood education and care (ECEC) has been incredibly successful, with 80 per cent of participants pursuing a career in ECEC. 


The program’s participants were referred from Workforce Australia employment service provider, Workskills Tasmania, to sign on to the six-week Pathway to a Traineeship program, facilitated by Lady Gowrie Tasmania and supported by the Department of Education. 


Lady Gowrie Tasmania had the benefit of a training arm and was set-up to support participants, most of whom were new or relatively new to the workforce. However, there were also mature-aged workers in their 50s who used the pre-traineeship program to explore a career change.


How the program worked


  • Lady Gowrie Tasmania is the largest community-based, not-for-profit provider of education and care services in the state. It operates more than 40 services in Tasmania and employs over 570 personnel.


  • Lady Gowrie Tasmania ran the six-week Pathway to a Traineeship program in 2021 as a taster for those who might be interested in becoming an educator.


  • 23 participants, mainly women aged between 18 and 24, took part. They were referred by employment agency Workskills Tasmania.


  • Two cohorts of participants spent four weeks in face-to-face learning.


  • Lady Gowrie Tasmania education and care personnel were guest presenters, covering:


  1. employability skills and professionalism in the workplace
  2. the National Quality Framework
  3. “learning to learn” session and being a reflective educator
  4. digital literacy and study skills.


  • Participants completed an accredited unit of competency – CHCDIV001 Work with Diverse People.


  • Participants spent two weeks in work placements at a Lady Gowrie Tasmania service, where they were supported by a workplace manager, team leader and project coach.


  • On completion, participants could apply for traineeship positions with Lady Gowrie Tasmania.


  • Of the 23 participants, 18 completed the course. Of these, 14 were offered traineeships, two gained work in outside school hours care, one decided to become a volunteer, and one was employed outside Lady Gowrie Tasmania.


Some of the participants were interested in beginning a career in ECEC but others, like Natasha Tatnell had never given it a thought. 


Ms Tatnell had the program suggested to her when she had just finished Year 12, and said that she was nervous about entering the workforce, but the course built her confidence by giving her basic work information and experience.


“It was helpful to know what you had to wear, what you had to do in the job, and how to engage with the kids,” she said.


After the program, she was interviewed and was successful in obtaining a position as a trainee.


“I was ready to give up when they rang me. I went to an information session, which led me here. Now, I spring out of bed every morning.”


For other participants, like 22-year-old Lauren Kelly (pictured), the program has offered an avenue to fulfill a long-held dream. 

“I had always wanted to work in child care because both my nans had been teachers. But I’d never had the opportunity,” she said.


Workskills Tasmania referred her to the program and she said it was like winning a “golden ticket draw” when she was accepted.


During the program, she studied the basics of working in a service and undertook a two-week placement at Lady Gowrie’s 110-place Battery Point centre in Hobart.


Her placement was in the babies’ room with 1218-month-olds where she got to watch and learn in a workplace.


On finishing the program, she was interviewed for a traineeship, which she secured. Lauren went on to undertake her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care part time.


“I have been loving all of it. The relationships you build in this centre with the children and the staff are so strong and beautiful,” she said.


As well as offering participants the opportunity to gain either a Certificate III or Diploma in ECEC, the program offers wrap around supports to participants including: 


  • creating a psychologically safe space for the learners
  • providing them with a study coach
  • giving them real-life work experience
  • connecting them with the breadth of knowledge of educator colleagues
  • creating a path for them to a traineeship and ongoing work.

Lady Gowrie Tasmania’s Learning, Development and Inclusion General Manager Annette Barwick said the program represented a chance for the sector to “get on the front foot” and to speak positively about careers in ECEC.


In the ECEC space, she continued, recruitment needs to be “as much about quality as about numbers”.


“We don’t just want anyone. We want those who have the capacity, values and attributes to be great educators,” she added.


Making sure the right people are joining the sector, she continued, requires looking beyond traditional sources of employment and considering people from various backgrounds and life experiences.


She said Lady Gowrie was fortunate that it had the scale to be able to test the program’s concept. The availability of on-site coaching was a huge boost to the confidence of those taking part.


Participants received a statement of attainment for a unit of competency and the opportunity to continue a traineeship career pathway. For its investment, Lady Gowrie Tasmania got a cohort of eager, aspiring educators for its big network of services across the state.


“Participants told us the program gave them purpose in their lives,” Ms Barwick said.


“It was a win for Lady Gowrie Tasmania and a win for the community.”

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