Early childhood workforce given $17 million boost after record number of scholarship applications


Educators in the early childhood sector have been given a $17.1 million boost after a NSW Labor Government scholarship program designed to strengthen the workforce attracted a record number of applications.

The Early Childhood Education and Care Scholarships program, which financially assists people wanting to enter the workforce, and existing staff looking to boost their skills, was a key election promise of the NSW Labor Government.

The program aims to create a reliable pipeline of early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators for NSW’s youngest learners.

The program received a record 2,328 applications – well exceeding an initial target of 1,700 applicants. Of the 2,328 applicants, 1,875 are early childhood educators looking to upskill, and 453 are looking to enter the ECEC sector.

Up to $29.4 million will be available to support this year’s scholarship program as the NSW Labor Government assigns up to $17.1 million on top of the $12.3 million committed in the 2023-24 budget.

For the first time, those looking to secure Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) qualifications have also been able to apply.

Successful scholars will receive:

  • Up to $25,000 for early childhood teaching (ECT) qualifications.
  • Up to $5,000 for diploma and certificate III ECEC and OSHC qualifications.

Investing in strengthening the early childhood education and care workforce is a priority for the NSW Labor Government. The ability to both attract and retain staff is a long term issue affecting the viability of early childhood education and care, and was highlighted in the recent Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s Childcare inquiry report.

This program is just part of the NSW Government’s commitment to boosting the early childhood education and care workforce, and comes in addition to the $20 million invested to expand access to ECEC through the Flexible Initiatives Trial, and $6.5 million to help ECEC businesses engage with a business capability development program, improving the viability of their offering.

The NSW Department of Education is currently assessing applications. It has already notified some successful scholars and will continue to notify others in the coming months.

Prospective applicants can visit the department’s website for more information.

Deputy Premier, Minister for Education and Early Learning, Prue Car said:

“Workforce shortages continue to be a challenge in early childhood education and care, and it is vital the Government make support available to encourage educators to continue their careers, and to make it easier for people to enter the sector.

“These scholarships give people financial support while they are studying, offering them a chance to learn new skills without taking on additional strain during a cost of living crisis.

“Investing in this workforce is essential to support ECEC services around the state and give our littlest learners the best start in life.”

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