Case study: Lady Gowrie Tasmania

Tasmanian program gives taste of life working in early childhood education and care

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A pre-traineeship program has shown prospective educators the rewards of working in an early childhood education and care (ECEC) service.

The taster proved such a hit that 80% of participants pursued a career in ECEC – and experts in the field want to bottle its success.

The program’s participants were referred from Workforce Australia employment service provider, Workskills Tasmania. Some were keen for a career in ECEC but others had never given it a thought.

The six-week Pathway to a Traineeship program, facilitated by Lady Gowrie Tasmania and supported by the department, was nothing short of life-changing for participants.

Lauren (left) and a child sitting at a table
Nurturing young minds: Lauren with one of her young charges at Lady Gowrie Tasmania’s Battery Point centre.

Lauren Kelly was 22 and working in a Hobart café but had a burning unfulfilled passion.

“I had always wanted to work in child care because both my nans had been teachers. But I’d never had the opportunity,” Lauren said.

Workskills Tasmania referred Lauren to the program. She said it was like winning a “golden ticket draw” when she was accepted.

During the program, she studied the basics of working in a service and undertook a two-week placement at Lady Gowrie’s 110-place Battery Point centre in Hobart.

Her placement was in the babies room with 12 to 18-month-olds where she got to watch and learn in a workplace.

On finishing the program, she was interviewed for a traineeship, which she secured. Lauren went on to undertake her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care part time.

“I have been loving all of it. The relationships you build in this centre with the children and the staff are so strong and beautiful,” she said.

In general, you need a Certificate III or a Diploma in ECEC to become an educator, and a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education to become an early childhood teacher.

Part of the pathway program’s success was that it offered wrap-around support to participants:

  • creating a psychologically safe space for the learners
  • providing them with a study coach
  • giving them real-life work experience
  • connecting them with the breadth of knowledge of educator colleagues
  • creating a path for them to a traineeship and ongoing work.

Natasha (right) watching a child paint
Brushing up: Natasha says the program gave her the confidence and support for a successful entry into the ECEC workforce.

Natasha Tatnell had just finished year 12 when Workskills Tasmania rang to suggest the pathways program.

She was nervous about entering the workforce, but the course built her confidence by giving her basic work information and experience.

“It was helpful to know what you had to wear, what you had to do in the job, and how to engage with the kids,” Natasha said.

After the program, she was interviewed and was successful in obtaining a position as a trainee.

If it weren’t for the program, she doubts she’d be in the sector.

“I was ready to give up when they rang me. I went to an information session, which led me here. Now, I spring out of bed every morning.”

Lady Gowrie Tasmania’s trainee coordinator and coach at the time, Lisette Graham, was a key to ensuring participants were engaged, trained and inspired.

Lady Gowrie Tasmania had the benefit of a training arm and setup to support participants.

Most participants were new or relatively new to the workforce. However, there were also mature-aged workers in their 50s who used the pre-traineeship program to explore a career change.

Getting a taste of working in the sector motivated most participants to continue on the path to a career in the sector.

Lady Gowrie Tasmania’s Learning, Development and Inclusion General Manager, Annette Barwick, said the program represented a chance for the sector to get on the front foot and to speak positively about careers in ECEC.

She said recruitment was as much about quality as one about numbers.

“We don’t just want anyone. We want those who have the capacity, values and attributes to be great educators,” Annette said.

This involved looking beyond traditional sources of employment and considering people from various backgrounds and life experiences.

She said Lady Gowrie was fortunate that it had the scale to be able to test the program’s concept. The availability of on-site coaching was a huge boost to the confidence of those taking part.

Participants received a statement of attainment for a unit of competency and the opportunity to continue a traineeship career pathway. For its investment, Lady Gowrie Tasmania got a cohort of eager, aspiring educators for its big network of services across the state.

“Participants told us the program gave them purpose in their lives,” Annette said.

“It was a win for Lady Gowrie Tasmania and a win for the community.”

How the program worked

  • Lady Gowrie Tasmania is the largest community-based, not-for-profit provider of education and care services in the state. It operates more than 40 services in Tasmania and employs over 570 personnel.
  • Lady Gowrie Tasmania ran the six-week Pathway to a Traineeship program in 2021 as a taster for those who might be interested in becoming an educator.
  • Twenty-three participants, mainly women aged between 18 and 24, took part. They were referred by employment agency Workskills Tasmania.
  • Two cohorts of participants spent four weeks in face-to-face learning.
  • Lady Gowrie Tasmania education and care personnel were guest presenters, covering:
    • employability skills and professionalism in the workplace
    • the National Quality Framework
    • “learning to learn” session and being a reflective educator
    • digital literacy and study skills.
  • Participants completed an accredited unit of competency – CHCDIV001 Work with Diverse People.
  • They spent two weeks in work placements at a Lady Gowrie Tasmania service, where they were supported by a workplace manager, team leader and project coach.
  • On completion, participants could apply for traineeship positions with Lady Gowrie Tasmania.
  • Of the 23 participants, 18 completed the course. Of these, 14 were offered traineeships, 2 gained work in Outside School Hours Care, one decided to become a volunteer, and one was employed outside Lady Gowrie Tasmania.