Tens of thousands of adults will be able to benefit from almost 400 free courses next year, in the first major development in the Lifetime Skills Guarantee.
Early years organisations welcome that a number of Level 3 early years courses will be included. This funding will not only enable thousands of adults to gain new qualifications and access better job opportunities; a proportion will also be used to support education and training providers to scale up their provision to deliver the courses and meet the needs of learners.
Purnima Tanuku OBE. Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said:
‘This is very positive news for childcare providers across the country and for young adults wanting to develop their careers in early years education.
‘This could save students and employers thousands of pounds in fees so could remove a major barrier to starting the Early Years Educator course in the first place. We hope this will mean that many more people interested in teaching our youngest children will be able to take the first step on the ladder towards their ambitions.
‘Research has shown that children in early years benefit from being educated by staff with higher qualifications and greater levels of experience. Improving the access to these qualifications will support professional development in the sector.
‘We know from our own early years workforce research that the numbers of Level 3 qualified practitioners has dropped alarmingly in the last few years. Equally nurseries and other childcare providers are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit and retain Level 3 qualified staff members.
‘Employers will welcome this news as they will be able to develop their practitioners aged 24 and over who would not have been eligible for funding previously. This training will provide reward and recognition for these members of staff who might not have received it due to employers’ limited budgets. We hope this will spur on many practitioners already working with young children who are qualified to Level 2 or below to progress their own careers and sign up for a course from April.’
Commenting, Michael Freeston, director of quality improvement at the Early Years Alliance, said:
‘We welcome the news that a number of Level 3 early years courses are being included in the government’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee. At a time when recruitment remains a real challenge for many early years businesses, we hope that enabling all adult learners to undertake these qualifications at no cost will provide a real boost for the sector.
‘That said, ensuring that learners are able to easily access these funded courses will be vital to the success of this initiative and to that end, we urge the government to ensure that all registered training providers, and not just those with existing adult education contracts, are able to deliver these qualifications.
‘Nevertheless, this is a positive announcement and one that rightly reflects the value of building a career in the early years.’