The Australian Skills Quality Authority recently found 80% of Early Education Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) to be substandard. Today, three United Voice members and centre managers spoke out in The Australian about informal hiring "boycotts" on new grads from substandard RTOs.
Centre manager Melinda Rutland has these 6 tips for new educators weighing up their diploma or certificate III training options.
I’m passionate about the early childhood sector. Our educators and centres support young children’s first steps on their lifelong learning journey.
If we want early childhood education recognised as the highly skilled profession it is, we need to make sure our own qualifications are top notch. How can you teach if you don’t have the best training and knowledge you can get?
1. Don’t sell yourself short
Not all Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) are created equal. When I get inquiries about placements at my Early Learning centre, the reputation of the RTO is my main consideration. I know which training organisations produce quality graduates, and which organisations just “tick and flick”, throwing poorly trained new educators in the deep end and leaving centres in the lurch.
As a centre manager I look at placement students as potential employees and it is our role to mentor and guide you to be the best you can be. In return we expect our RTOs to provide the knowledge and support necessary to give you the best start in your career.
Early education is a life long journey, and it begins with the RTO you train with, so choose wisely.
2. Do your research
Spend time researching which RTOs are highly regarded within the sector. Ask your local quality centres who they recommend in your area. Who is going to support your career and give you the skills to become the best educator you can be? Who will link you with quality early childhood services for the best experience that you can gain?
Get in contact with RTOs and ask the tough questions. Do the trainers have significant experience within the early childhood sector? Can they provide information on employment outcomes for past graduates? Are there open days or information sessions you can attend? How long have they being running the course and how often is it updated with the latest research?
3. Look for programs that provide adequate support
Always look for an organisation that offers regular classes. Face-to-face classes give you the opportunity to discuss course content, share stories and experiences from placements and get real life anecdotes to support your learning.
The last thing you need is to sign up online and never hear from a real person. Trainer and assessor support in the workplace is a must. Make sure your program offers centre visits, phone and email support when you’re on placement.
4. Look for diverse placement opportunities
Look for training organisations that require work placements in multiple centres. Employers value experience in different centres – it’s how you expand your knowledge and learn different skills. Don't risk doing all your on-the-job training in a low quality centre, only to find out later you aren't prepared for work in quality centres.
5. Make sure the training is up to date
You want to walk in the door at your new centre with all the foundational skills and knowledge you need to deliver quality education and care for children.
If you are training towards a certificate III, make sure the modules offered by the organisation are current. The early childhood education and care sector must comply with standards embedded in the National Quality Framework. To uphold these quality standards, you need training in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF).
Recently a number of RTOs have been updating their training, which is great, but they expect students to fast track their last two units within only 2 – 4 weeks. If they don't, all the work completed so far becomes void and students must start their training again from the beginning.
6. Join your union
Your union, United Voice, is made up of educators like you, working together to transform our profession into what it should be - stable, respected and well paid.
Educators and directors come together in our union for a strong voice on the future of the sector we love. Our sector is shaping future generations - it’s important we get it right.