The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle is expanding its education network, with the launch of St Nicholas Pathways in Maitland - a specialised training centre for those looking to work in child care.
Early next year the diocese will open a Pathways training centre in the former Maitland Ex-Services Bowling Club (the Tin Hut) in Carrington Street and an adjoining 70-place child care centre.
Combined, the development is worth $4.3 million.
In 2020 the site is expected to provide training for over 140 people, through a combination of Pathways courses including the School Based and Apprenticeships Trainee SBAT program, trainees and industry immersion opportunities.
The diocese has already invested more than $12 million into child care centres across the Lower Hunter - the latest at Gillieston Heights.
Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, CEO, Sean Scanlon, said the initiative was established to create meaningful pathways to employment and in particular, support the growing demand for early childhood educators.
"Research indicates that the early childhood education and care workforce is expected to increase by 14 per cent by 2021, leading to more than 36,000 new jobs on offer Australia wide by 2022," Mr Scanlon said.
"The Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle saw there was an opportunity to draw from our proud history of educating thousands of students and play a key part in addressing the local community's emerging needs for early childhood educators."
St Nicholas Pathways will offer part-time traineeships for high school students, full-time traineeships, industry immersion opportunities and additional customised programs for fully qualified educators.
The part-time traineeship for high school students is classified as a SBAT program.
It will be the first program of its type in the Hunter.
"One of the things that makes this initiative unique is the opportunity for students to undertake school studies, a traineeship and potentially gain a career in early childhood education and care with support from one overarching organization - the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle," Mr Scanlon said.
"In saying that, St Nicolas Pathways welcomes students and adult learners from all schools and the broader community.
"St Nicholas Pathways has been developed with input from representatives from the early education sector, careers advisors and principals to ensure the suite of programs - starting with the SBAT program, are industry relevant and provide high school students with unique learning opportunities."
St Nicholas Pathways will strategically align with award winning Newcastle-based registered training organisation International Childcare College (ICCC) to deliver the accredited training programs.
The SBAT program will be the first St Nicholas Pathways initiative to begin accepting enrolments. The program will allow students to attain their Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care while completing their HSC.
Students leave school at the end of Year 12 with a qualification that can lead directly to employment and have the opportunity to continue the learning pathways with advanced entry into university.
As part of the traineeship, participants will complete the theoretical component of their studies online. Mr Scanlon said this will be complemented by 100 days of paid on-the-job training at one of the Catholic Diocese's six St Nicholas Early Education centres.
The Pathways program will also connect students with potential employees.
All students, trainees and educators accessing Pathways programs will have the opportunity to complete workshop content and receive general support throughout their studies at a purpose-built St Nicholas Pathways training facility located in Maitland.
Construction of the training facility is under way and expected to be completed by February 2020.
It will be situated under the same roof as the soon-to-be-opened 70-place St Nicholas Early Education centre.
Students who are interested in a career in early childhood education and care and will be enrolled in Year 11 at any local high school in 2020 are encouraged to apply for the program.
To apply or to find our more, visit the St Nicholas Pathways website.