ELACCA welcomes first cohort of early learning professionals to bespoke new degree

Media Release

14 July 2023

WORKFORCE shortages continue to place pressure on all parts of the early learning and care sector.

Across Australia, thousands of qualified early learning educators and teachers are needed to meet existing vacancies, with staffing shortfalls leading to fewer spaces for children at their most critical period of development, and impacting the workforce participation of many parents and carers.

This week, more than 270 diploma-qualified early childhood education and care professionals commence study in an innovative, bespoke university program that will enable them to attain a Bachelor of Education in two years. Uplifting our workforce at a time when it is needed most.

The Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) is especially pleased to welcome from eleven of our member organisations:

  • 88 educators enrolled, with representation across 7 States and Territories
  • a quarter of our enrolled educators based in regional or remote areas
  • 50 early childhood teachers in the mentor program, sharing their knowledge and experience, while building their own leadership capacity.

This new accelerated degree – the Bachelor of Education (The Early Years)– co-designed by the University of Wollongong (UOW) and ELACCA, will boost the number of early childhood teachers, by removing barriers to study for those who are already working in the sector. This could only be made possible with the support of the New South Wales Department of Education.

UOW Academic Director of the Early Years, Associate Professor Cathrine Neilsen-Hewett, said the subjects will be offered online and can be studied at times that suit educators best to support continuity for the services in which they work.

“We’ve designed our assessments to continually support the elevation of quality practice across the organisations in which educators are currently working.

“We’re exposing them to practices that will make a difference for the children and the families and the communities in which they’re embedded,” she said.

ELACCA CEO Elizabeth Death said the program was unique. “There is no other program that has been designed like this in Australia.”

“This is a genuine partnership and a program that is ground-breaking for the sector, that considers the realities of working day-to-day in early learning and care and how the organisations and the university will genuinely support and empower these scholars to achieve and to build their careers”.

In the accelerated pathway program, students complete 12 weeks of a professional experience program across two years, but there is flexibility around the timing of placements.

Elizabeth Death said that “this is a unique opportunity to connect government, universities, and providers. It is our intention to use this process as a broader commitment to building early childhood workforce capacity and ensuring quality in our sector. We see the opportunity to participate in this pilot program as the beginning of a longer and substantial partnership. 

“A survey of ELACCA members’ interest in the intensive program shows a strong appetite for engagement with this exciting new course. Importantly, we envisage the wrap-around support for educators will enhance completion of their degree and retention within their workplaces.”

ELACCA thanks NSW Minister for Education and Early Learning, Deputy Premier Prue Car, and the NSW Department of Education, for their ongoing support and investment in this highly valuable new degree.


For more information please contact:

Sally Maddison

Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA)

PO Box 348

Annandale NSW 2038

Mob: 0498 228 762

E: [email protected]


About us:

The Early Learning and Care Council of Australia (ELACCA) was established to promote the value of quality early learning and care as an integral part of Australia’s education system. 

Our 19 CEO members include some of the largest early learning providers in the country, representing both not-for-profit and for-profit services. ELACCA members operate 1,984 long day care services, 310 preschool/kindergarten services and 92 OSHC services, covering every state and territory. They offer one-quarter of all the long day care places in Australia. Together, our members serve 369,776 children and their families, and employ more than 56,708 staff.

As well as promoting the value of quality early learning and the need for greater public investment, ELACCA advocates for the right of all children to access quality early learning and care, particularly children facing disadvantage. We do this by drawing on the knowledge and practical experience of our members and representing their views to decision makers in government, the media and the public.