Nominated in the Employability category, the program is dedicated to upskilling diploma-qualified educators and expediting diverse, higher-qualified workforce participation.
VU, along with Hume Council, first piloted the program in 2021 with 27 students. Now with over 980 students, VU partners with over 50 local government areas and the Victorian Government to increase the supply of bachelor-qualified early childhood teachers.
It is career-focused and place-based, with workplace placements enabling students to earn while they learn. In particular, the program has accelerated workforce participation and career progression for women.
“Over 97 per cent of the students are female, from traditionally lower-paid work in the early childhood field. Over 50 per cent of the students speak English as an additional language and are first-in-family to attend university.
We go to the students rather than them coming to us, and it is designed so students can continue to work while they study. Pass rates are 99 per cent; retention rates are 97 per cent,” said Professor John Germov, Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Higher Education.
According to a 2021 report from the , regions with greater cultural and linguistic diversity have less concentration of childcare services. In Werribee, between two to four children compete for each childcare place.
By upskilling students living in these areas, there is potential to grow the workforce and provide critical services in much needed communities. “The program increases employment options for women from migrant and disadvantaged backgrounds,” added Professor Germov.
The Early Childhood Education (ECE) program is an exemplar of what can be achieved by responding to the needs of students and industry. This is one of VU’s sector-leading approaches, which drives equity and excellence for all.
VU won the Australian Financial Review Higher Education Award, in 2021 for the , in the Teaching and Learning Excellence category. The annual awards program celebrates the outstanding efforts of Australian universities.