Changes to Early Childhood Education and Care Qualifications

The article below was written by Sam Rosenberg, Director of Early Childhood Training, in conjunction with Marie Vassallo of Marie Vassallo Consulting Australia

On the 21st of July 2021 the new Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care (CHC30121) and the Diploma of Early Childhood Education and Care (CHC50121) were released by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA) after an extensive consultation process. Neither of these new courses are equivalent to the current courses being offered and undertaken by students.

Training organisations, including all private and public institutions across the country now have just short of 12 months to update their resources to start delivering the new courses as no certificates/diplomas for the old courses can be issued after 19th July 2022.

From a practical point of view this means that in order for students to complete their course by mid-July next year no new enrolments can commence after August 2021.

How does this impact current students?
Students undertaking the Certificate III course who do not complete their course by the July 2022 deadline will be significantly disadvantaged as transition to the new Certificate III qualifications requires an additional number of units that will add at least 6 months to their training.

Students currently undertaking the Diploma who do not finish by mid-July 2022 will be more significantly disadvantaged in course duration as the newly released Diploma requires a Certificate III as a pre-requisite rather than the direct entry at Diploma level that is currently the case.

Funding Implications
In most states, and certainly here in Victoria, the vast majority of students undertaking Early Childhood Education & Care (ECEC) courses receive funding from both State and Commonwealth governments. In Victoria this is Skills First or “free Tafe” funding, both of which are a mixture of the Commonwealth User Choice funding and Victorian state funding sources.

As the existing and new courses are not equivalent, the availability of funding is not automatic. Each institution will need to go through an audit process to add the qualifications to their scope of registration and then a separate process to add them to their funded scope or preferred provider contracts. In general this process takes up to six months to complete.

An additional delay will be caused by waiting for the state government to add the new qualifications to the funded course list. In Victoria, the Department of Education issues a purchasing guide which determines the level of funding for each unit in the qualifications.

Since 2019, Victoria is the only state to publish these hours and in general the other states adopt the Victorian nominal hours that determine funding. Until the purchasing guide is released, the new qualifications are not funded. This process can take up to 9 months to be completed.

Workforce implications
There is significant impact on the training of new graduates into the ECEC sector. Without the granting by ASQA of an extension to the transition period (currently finishing 19th July , 2022 ), new enrolments will cease around late August 2021, impacting the workforce pipeline with new students waiting for funded courses to come on-line.

Delays in granting funding to these new qualifications will therefore lead to a decrease in the qualified workforce coming on stream from mid to late 2022 through to first quarter 2023.

What can we do?

ACA, both nationally and in Victoria, is advocating with ASQA and the relevant authorities for an extension of the transition period to the new qualifications, so that the movement to the new course will be seamless with little impact on student enrolments and course completion.

We will keep our members advised on our progress.