ACT launches new program to support flexible entry pathways into ECEC
The ACT Government has launched a new program – The Early Learning Connection Program – which aims to support women with flexible career pathways into early childhood education.
The program will support up to 260 women to study a Certificate III, Diploma or Bachelor Degree in Early Childhood Education, and is designed to ease workforce pressures under the ACT Government’s early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce strategy.
The $2.125 million program will support participants to study, work and receive career coaching, with participants receiving study financial assistance, help with facilitating employment opportunities in early childhood centres while studying, and their own educator coach, to help them balance work, study, life commitments and wellbeing.
For those who have children five years of age and younger, the educator coach can help them to enrol their child/ren into care to allow them to work and study.
The program will be facilitated by Baringa, in partnership with the University of Canberra, Canberra Institute of Technology, Australian Institute of Management and early learning centres across the ACT.
“It is wonderful to see the collaboration between the ACT government, our education institutions and the early childhood education profession in supporting women in the workforce,” Minister for Education and Youth Affairs Yvette Berry said.
“This program means we can provide financial assistance for course fees and wrap-around supports for women to complete a Certificate III or Diploma in Early Childhood Education or a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education.”
The program has been released, in part, to support the ECEC sector as the ACT Government continues to roll out universal free three-year-old preschool, providing eligible families with 300 hours of free preschool delivered by a degree qualified Early Childhood Teacher.
“It is crucial that we continue to provide career pathways and development opportunities for our early childhood education profession, making it easier for educators to upskill, whether it be via certificate, diploma or degree qualifications, and promoting early childhood education as a long-term career option,” Minister Berry said.
Jillian Flinders, Baringa Board Chair, said the program is evidence based, and has been piloted through the Australian Government’s National Careers Institute.
“An independent evaluation of the pilot highlighted a range of barriers for Canberra women, including lack of family, financial and network support, as well as ongoing workforce pressures,” Ms Flinders said.
“It is through understanding these barriers that Early Learning Connection has been designed to collaborate across the ACT profession, providing innovative, holistic and real supports for employees and employers in the early childhood education sector.”
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