The State Government's significant investment in free and low-fee training has almost doubled the number of early childhood education and care (ECEC) traineeships completed in the past year, helping to build the important sector's future workforce.
In the 12 months leading up to 30 April 2023, Western Australia recorded significant increases in ECEC traineeship commencements (up 37 per cent) and completions (up 94 per cent) compared to the same period last year.
This major boost for the sector comes as WA continues its track record of achieving high participation in training, on the back of the Cook Government's significant investment in targeted initiatives to support priority workforces like the ECEC sector. As traineeships are an employment-based training pathway, this means the sector has benefited from almost 2,400 new entrants in the past year and almost 800 skilled people having completed their training.
In response to feedback received as part of the 2021 Perth and Regional Skills Summit, the State Government introduced low-fee existing worker traineeships for the ECEC sector and other initiatives from 1 January 2022, to support the childcare industry to upskill existing workers.
A new Early Childhood Education and Care Job Ready program was also introduced in partnership with industry, and is providing entry-level candidates with a new pre-employment pathway into traineeships and jobs in the sector. In 2023, all new worker traineeships - including trainees in relevant ECEC qualifications - and all Job Ready programs are eligible for fee-free training through the FREE IN '23 initiative. This includes the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care, Certificate IV in School Based Education Support, and Introduction to Early Childhood Education and Care Skill Set.
As a result, there have already been more than 4,650 fee-free enrolments in ECEC qualifications in WA this year. Based on results from the latest national Student Outcomes Survey, it is estimated that more than 90 per cent of students who completed a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care or Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care traineeship were employed or in further study after training.
The State Government's Lower fees, local skills initiative reduces course fees by up to 72 per cent for the Certificate III in School Based Education Support; Certificate IV in School Age Education and Care and Diploma of School Age Education and Care.
Premier Roger Cook said, "Maintaining a strong early childhood education and care sector is a critical part of the WA economy and supports working parents - particularly women - to return to the workforce across all occupations. Ensuring the sector has a pipeline of job-ready workers is key, and our $112 million 12-month Skills Agreement with the Commonwealth to provide fee-free TAFE and vocational education and training places has significantly increased the number of Western Australians training in priority areas such as early childhood education and care. There has been strong demand for the fee-free TAFE places currently on offer, resulting in more than 28,600 enrolments across eligible qualifications to date. "Training pathways with an on-the-job component are a great way for employers to add to their staff while investing in the future skilled workforce."
Training Minister Simone McGurk added, "Fee-Free training is now available across more than 130 courses including a range of qualifications and skill sets, with all Western Australians eligible to access the program at WA TAFE colleges and training providers. Helping Western Australians including women transition back into the workforce to help fill skills shortages is an essential element in the Government's plan to grow the local skilled workforce needed to support WA's strong economy. Early childhood education traineeship completions have more than doubled in the past year and it is pleasing to see these increases are flowing through to the in-demand care sector and women's increased workforce participation. Located across Western Australia, Jobs and Skills Centres offer free advice on careers, training and employment including apprenticeships, traineeships and low and fee-free training, they can be contacted on 13 64 64."
"We know the benefits of good early childhood education and we can't do that without quality and dedicated early childhood educators and staff." remarked Early Childhood Education Minister Sabine Winton, "These educators play such a huge role in supporting our young children's development and growth. "The opportunities available are endless - there's never been a better time to become an early childhood educator and help set up our children for the best start in life."