More aspiring early childhood teachers can boost their skills as quality educators for a growing Victoria, with the expansion of supported employment-based university courses in the sector.
La Trobe University's Bendigo campus will be able to welcome more students wishing to study these degrees with extra places in this year's Early Childhood Innovative Initial Teacher Education program announced this week.
La Trobe School of Education academic and deputy dean Craig Deed said the sector was one of many worth funding.
"It's always really good to get recognition in terms of funding to support quality teacher education," he said.
"The recognition of this sort of program shows the need for ongoing support to help us get the best graduates we can."
Professor Deed said it was important to assist regional areas were there are smaller numbers of educators at all levels.
"There is an ongoing shortage of teachers in every sector and particularly with the coronavirus and the impact it's had on remote learning, there's a the need to ask the question of how we get quality grads that are adaptable," he said.
"We're excited to get that recognition and extra resources that will allow us to do this."
The program provides accelerated entry for 780 diploma-qualified graduates into the early childhood sector across multiple tertiary institutions, providing flexible learning options and employment support so they can continue working and upskill to become degree-educated teachers.
"We only offer this course regionally in Bendigo and Shepparton so it already has that focus, but we also have the focus on responding to local needs," Professor Deed said.
"We have a strong set of partnerships with local early childhood providers and through this we try to make sure that we are producing graduates that will work regionally and therefore contribute to and address that local need for quality educators."
A further 550 students will experience better placement and mentoring experiences during their early childhood teaching degree as well as professional development for those in the workforce, under the Early Childhood Professional Practice Partnerships initiative.
The program will be offered at the University of Melbourne, Victoria University, Deakin University, La Trobe University and the Australian Catholic University.
The state government has invested $32 million in the Early Childhood Innovative Initial Teacher Education program over three years to help build a pipeline of job-ready early childhood teaching workers.
"This innovative program allows early childhood educators of all backgrounds to upskill to become qualified teachers and progress their career pathways - supporting the statewide roll-out of Three-Year-Kindergarten in 2022," Minister for Early Childhood Ingrid Stitt said.
"There really has never been a more exciting time to get into the early childhood workforce - and I'd encourage anyone thinking about a career in this space to get involved."
For more information visit vic.gov.au/innovative-early-childhood-teaching-courses.
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