Pathways building brighter futures

The increased demand for childcare places over the past decade has led to a growing shortage of early education staff - a fact which encouraged Emma Losurdo to utilise a pathway straight from Year 12 to full-time employment in the sector.

According to a recent report by the Department of Education, there is a shortage of nearly 4,000 early childhood educators in New South Wales. A lack of qualified professionals entering the field has resulted in increased pressure on existing staff, with many early childhood services reporting high levels of burnout and turnover.

However, there is hope. Agencies like St Nicholas Pathways are taking significant steps to address the growing skills shortage in their region.

Pathways’ programs aim to improve the quality of care for young children by supporting the training and development of educators, employed by St Nicholas across their Early Education and OOSH services.

One program in particular has seen incredible success – St Nicholas Pathways’ School-Based Traineeship (SBAT) program sees year 11 and 12 students undertake a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care through Pathways’ Registered Training Organisation partner, Macquarie Community College (RTO IC 90033).

St Nicholas Pathways formally launched the program in 2019 with 12 participating students. By 2023, the program’s intake had increased four-fold, with 46 students beginning their SBAT journey with St Nicholas this year.

Miss Losurdo, a recent graduate of Pathways’ SBAT program, was excited to gain immediate full-time employment at the St Nicholas Early Education centre in Maitland upon receiving her qualification.

“It made me feel so confident knowing that all my hard work and dedication had paid off,” Miss Losurdo said.

Pathways’ Business Manager Erica Wilkinson attributes the program’s success to several key factors.

“Our SBATs finish school with a Certificate III qualification, which means they can be employed as an early childhood educator immediately after finishing Year 12,” she explains.

“The program also includes paid on-the-job training and supports advanced entry into the diploma or bachelor degree qualifications.”

But more important than the career prospects, Ms Wilkinson says, are the ways the program supports students on a personal level.

“We see such growth in the SBATs who come through our program. Their confidence and skills grow so rapidly and they develop beautiful relationships with their fellow educators, the children and the families who attend.”

Ms Wilkinson acknowledges that St Nicholas Pathways’ programs also provide a talent pipeline for St Nicholas.

“Most of our SBATs, work-based trainees and face-to-face students are offered ongoing employment opportunities with St Nicholas following the completion of their studies.”

Miss Losurdo credits her success during and following the program to the high level of support she received from those around her.

“My incredibly caring mentors, trainers, leaders and fellow educators assisted and enabled me to make it to where I am today.”


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Alexander Foster

Alexander Foster is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle

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