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Early childhood students grab job opportunities

By UCOL on Tuesday, 16 March 2021

A photograph of UCOL Early childhood students in the class

UCOL’s Early Childhood Education and Care students have been making their mark while on work experience, with many being offered permanent jobs.

More than half of the students who studied Early Childhood Education and Care (ECE) certificates or diplomas at UCOL campuses in 2020 had already secured employment in the industry by the end of the year, including some who are still continuing their studies.

Many of these job opportunities came after students completed practicums in local early childhood learning centres and kindergartens as part of their studies.

Certificate level students do one six-week practicum, while diploma students complete two practicums. While on practicum, students are paired with a mentor teacher and gain experience caring for children and coordinating learning activities.

Of the 28 diploma level Early Childhood Education and Care students at UCOL Manawatū who started in February last year, 10 were already working in the industry when they started the programme, while another 10 had secured employment by the end of the year.

UCOL Early Childhood Education and Care Programme Leader Sarah Glenny says there has been a steady increase in students finding work while still studying.

“Our programmes are designed for work. We get excellent support from the Early Childhood Centres across our regions, with these centres playing an important role in the education of our students. They are committed to the development of their potential workforce.”

“As a teaching team we’re out there, engaging with early childhood education providers to find a range of practicum opportunities for the students. We really highlight professionalism in our classrooms so students represent themselves and UCOL, which leads to work opportunities.”    

Megan Devlin, who is studying the NZ Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care, was offered relieving work at Little Monkeys Preschool after completing her practicum there. She is now working there regularly two days a week. 

“It’s going really well,” says Megan. “I love it, I love the kids. I especially enjoy it now that I have had time to form stronger relationships with all of the children and staff.”

Megan says the practicum was a great learning experience as there were things she was able to try out that she couldn’t do in class at UCOL.

“In our classes we talk about the tones of voice you use with children, whether it’s a happy tone or a sterner tone, so that was something I really got to put into practice.”

“Another thing is in a centre, you need to be sitting or standing in spots where you can see all of the children you’re responsible for. You can’t really practice that in class.”

Megan is set to complete her diploma part way through 2021 and is looking forward to gaining more experience in another centre for her second practicum.

“I want to experience as much as I possibly can. It’s a great opportunity while you’re studying to see and learn more, so I‘ve asked to be a centre in a mix of children from diverse backgrounds so I can help children of any background.”

Image: Students  from one of UCOL's Early Childhood Education and Care classes.