“Research indicates that the early childhood education and care workforce is expected to increase by 14 per cent by 2021, leading to more than 36,000 new jobs on offer Australia wide by 2022,” Sean said.
“The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle saw there was an opportunity to draw from our proud history of educating thousands of students and play a key part in addressing the local community’s emerging needs for early childhood educators.
St Nicholas Pathways will offer a number of training options including: part-time traineeships for high school students, full-time traineeships, industry immersion opportunities and additional customised programs for fully qualified educators. The part-time traineeship for high school students is classified as a School Based & Apprenticeships Trainee (SBAT) program.
It will be the first program of its type in the Hunter.
“One of the things that makes this initiative unique is the opportunity for students to undertake school studies, a traineeship and potentially gain a career in early childhood education and care with support from one overarching organization - the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle,” Sean said.
“In saying that, St Nicolas Pathways welcomes students and adult learners from all schools and the broader community.
“St Nicholas Pathways has been developed with input from representatives from the early education sector, careers advisors and principals to ensure the suite of programs – starting with the SBAT program, are industry relevant and provide high school students with unique learning opportunities.”
St Nicholas Pathways will strategically align with award winning Newcastle-based registered training organisation International Childcare College (ICCC) to deliver the accredited training programs.
ICCC general manager Kael Cooper said the college was keen to embrace the opportunity to work closely with the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.
“Our organisations have a shared objective to support young people in our local community,” Kael said.
“Our goal is to provide the best learning experience possible so that every student graduates with the skills, knowledge and confidence to be successful educators.”
The SBAT program will be the first St Nicholas Pathways initiative to begin accepting enrolments. The program will allow students to attain their Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care while completing their HSC.
“School-based traineeships are one of the most successful models of training with students able to apply their developing knowledge in every day practices under the guidance of experienced educators,” Sean said.
“Students leave school at the end of Year 12 with a qualification that can lead directly to employment and have the opportunity to continue the learning pathways with advanced entry into university.”
Sophie Wolfe is currently in Year 10 at All Saints College, St Peter’s Campus in Maitland and is keen to pursue a career in early childhood education and care.
“I love playing with children and find them fascinating. I am interested to learn more about how kids grow, how to support their learning and to see their personalities develop,” Sophie said.
A recent visit to a St Nicholas Early Education centre, along with her peers, has led Sophie to want to apply for the St Nicholas Pathways SBAT program.
“I think the SBAT program provides a great opportunity for students. I would like to complete my Certificate III while I am still at school so that I can graduate having completed my HSC and fast-track my qualifications in a supportive environment,” Sophie said.
As part of the traineeship, participants will complete the theoretical component of their studies online. Sean said this will be complemented by 100 days of paid on-the-job training at one of the Catholic Diocese’s six St Nicholas Early Education centres.
“The opportunity to complete on-the-job training within a St Nicholas Early Education centre provides each trainee with an authentic experience of working in the early childhood education and care sector,” Sean said.
Sophie said it was a major draw-card for her in choosing the St Nicholas Pathways SBAT program.
“I like that with SBAT program provides an opportunity for hands-on learning. It will give me a good understanding of what’s involved in being an early childhood educator before I commit to undertaking any other form of study after I complete Year 12,” Sophie said.
Sean said the St Nicholas Pathways SBAT program also connects students with potential employees.
“Trainees have a unique opportunity to display their talent, aptitude and professionalism to St Nicholas educators while gaining experience, making them well placed to apply for jobs at St Nicholas Early Education upon completion of the traineeship.”
All students, trainees and educators accessing Pathways programs will have the opportunity to complete workshop content and receive general support throughout their studies at a purpose-built St Nicholas Pathways training facility located in Maitland.
Construction of the training facility is under way and expected to be completed by February 2020. Situated under the same roof as the soon-to-be-opened 70-place St Nicholas Early Education centre, the facility will also include two well-appointed training rooms alongside a simulated children’s services environment.
Applications for the St Nicholas Pathways SBAT program are now open and will close on Tuesday 23 July 2019. Students who are interested in a career in early childhood education and care and will be enrolled in Year 11 at any local high school in 2020 are encouraged to apply.
To apply or to find our more, visit the St Nicholas Pathways website.