14 October 2020

A career in early education and care with Communities@Work

| Liz Tickner
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Kavita Ogale reading book to child.

Kavita Ogale, a graduate of Communities@Work’s Ascend Program, recognises the importance of the role of educators in shaping young minds. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

A 10,000km journey from Delhi in India to Canberra two years ago has paid off for Kavita Ogale who, with her husband and young daughter, came in search of a new life.

Today, Kavita is the proud recipient of a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care, works part-time in the industry she is passionate about, and enjoys the slower paced lifestyle that the nation’s capital has to offer.

The opportunity to fulfil her dream has largely been made possible through Communities@Work’s Ascend Program, which offers successful candidates a 12-month traineeship comprising paid on-the-job work experience in children’s services while they study to gain formal qualifications.

Communities@Work is now recruiting 18 new trainees for its next Ascend Program, which starts in January 2021.

Applications close on 19 October and Communities@Work’s registered training organisation manager, Carla Scalia, says there has already been a great deal of interest in the positions.

“As at 1 October, there have been 81 applications,” she says, adding that some previous intakes had attracted more than 100 applicants.

READ ALSO Communities@Work wins ACT Large Employer of the Year for the second year running

For Kavita, 35, childcare represents a major career change after having worked in media and advertising in India.

But her love of children and a recognition of the importance of the role of educators in shaping young minds led her to apply for a traineeship early in 2019.

After a rigorous selection process, Kavita was accepted into the course in August 2019 and graduated with her Certificate III in Early Childhood and Care in August this year.

Kavita Ogale reading book to child.

Since graduating, Kavita Ogale has been employed at Communities@Work’s Abacus Child Care and Education Centre. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Since graduating, she has retained employment at Abacus Child Care and Education Centre in the Canberra suburb of Parkes, where she was initiated and mentored in the role of an educator during her traineeship.

Part of Communities@Work’s core business is the operation of a number of early learning, long day care services, out of school hours, and family day care services across the ACT.

Carla says the Ascend Program enables Communities@Work to grow its own skilled workforce.

“We’re able to offer people employment and study at the same time, training and mentoring them to be the quality educators we need to care for our children,” she says.

Carla Scalia holding award certificate for ACT Large Employer of the Year.

Carla Scalia with the award Communities@Work recently won for ACT Large Employer of the Year. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Successful traineeship candidates are employed on a full-time basis, spending four days a week working with children. The fifth day involves attending classes with fellow trainees in a formal learning environment at the Centre of Professional Learning and Education, studying the theory related to early education and childcare.

The recruitment process for the Ascend Program is unapologetically demanding.

Prospective trainees initially apply via the Communities@Work website; attend a face-to-face information session; sit a language, numeracy and literacy assessment; carry out a 1-1.5 hour visit to an early learning service; and undergo an interview and psychometric assessment, after which successful candidates are offered a position.

“It’s not easy, but it’s about making sure we’ve got the right candidates for the position, the people who ultimately are going to be the best for the children they care for,” says Carla.

She says trainees come from diverse backgrounds in terms of gender, age and experience. Some are school leavers, while others are more mature people looking for a career change or wanting to put their own parenting skills on a more professional level.

While there is no guarantee of ongoing employment at the end of the traineeship, Carla says ACT is a transient place and educator positions are regularly available.

She says a Certificate III qualification is a stepping stone to many future options, including childcare centre management, working with children at risk, and as a pathway into teaching or other tertiary degrees.

Communities@Work, which was established more than 40 years ago and has had a registered training arm since 2007, also offers a Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care and a Certificate III in Business Administration, as well as professional development learning opportunities in diverse topics including autism awareness and bush tucker.

Find out more and register your interest for Communities@Work’s Ascend Traineeship Program here.

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