The Victorian Government recognises the high demand for teachers and has allocated $5 billion to support the provision of three-year-old kindergarten places across the state. This initiative will require an additional 6,000 trained staff members to educate and care for these children. Consequently, there has never been a more opportune time to pursue a career in early childhood education and care.
The government's plan entails a ten-year implementation period, which allows for an extra year of play-based learning for children in Victoria. This learning will be facilitated by qualified teachers. Students enrolled in early years education programs at Melbourne Polytechnic have experienced success in securing employment even before completing their studies. Scholarships, financial incentives, and Free TAFE places are available to support and assist aspiring teachers.
There are various pathways to progress within the teaching profession. Starting from an entry-level qualification, the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care (CHC30121), which spans six months full-time, individuals can advance to the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care (CHC50121). This diploma lasts for 18 months and offers subject credits towards the Bachelor of Education (Early Years and Primary). Free TAFE places are accessible for both TAFE qualifications.
For those considering an early exit from their studies, there is the option of pursuing a two-year Associate Degree of Early Years Studies, which can subsequently lead to a Bachelor degree. Both degrees are supported by Commonwealth Supported Places, with the government contributing towards the tuition fees.
Melissa Smith, the Leader of Early Years Education Programs, explains that the Certificate III and Diploma courses are designed for individuals who aspire to play a meaningful role in the education and development of children before they enter school.
“One of the advantages of this profession is that each day presents unique challenges and experiences” says Melissa.
“The job requires energy, as well as being prepared to answer children's questions multiple times a day. It necessitates a willingness to actively engage with children in various settings such as sandpits, mud piles, and paint tables. Collaboration and a willingness to work in a team environment are also essential qualities for those looking to work in Early Childhood Education.”
Dr. Elly Thomson, the Head of Program for the Bachelor of Education, Early Years and Primary, highlights the seamless progression from the Certificate III to the Bachelor's degree. The Associate Degree also provides a two-year credit towards the Bachelor's degree, allowing individuals to work in early childhood services while completing their Bachelor's degree.
“The Bachelor's degree at Melbourne Polytechnic produces graduates who are qualified as generalist primary teachers, with specialised knowledge in literacy and health and well-being. Melbourne Polytechnic is the sole provider of the health and well-being stream within this field and we place a significant emphasis on social justice, diversity, and inclusion” says Elly.
A primary focus of the Bachelor program is to ensure that students at Melbourne Polytechnic gain practical experience through realistic simulated learning environments.
With small class sizes, teachers and lecturers can provide individualised attention and customised support to students. The childcare facilities at Melbourne Polytechnic’s Preston campus are designed to replicate real-life early learning environments, with playgroups visiting the campus to provide students with the opportunity to practice in small and informal spaces before undertaking placements as part of their qualification requirements.
Melbourne Polytechnic assists students in finding suitable placements, which often lead to employment opportunities. Over 60% of students enrolled in our Certificate III and Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care receive job offers during their placements – even before they have completed their qualifications.
As the population in metropolitan Melbourne continues to grow, the early childhood sector experiences a parallel expansion, leading to better job opportunities. These jobs are available to individuals of all ages, including school leavers and those seeking a career change. The industry values diversity and individuals who possess multilingual skills and an understanding of various cultural needs.
With high demand in the teaching industry and a lifelong career path, there has never been a better time to apply for a qualification in Early Years Education.