Future Tracks CEO Lucy Davidson has shared some of her insights for the future of Australian education in this guest blog.
When you think of rapidly growing industries, early childhood education isn’t necessarily the one that jumps to mind. Tech, STEM and electric cars seem to be the big ones if you’re only listening to politicians out on the hustings.
But the early childhood education sector is growing – and fast.
Government figures predict that demand for early childhood teachers with a Bachelor’s degree in education will grow by 25% over the next five years, creating up to 50,000 new jobs.
This level of demand and potential customer base is exciting for any startup, but it also brings challenges. While demand is growing, interest in teaching degrees is declining, and a significant portion of students who do enrol in early childhood teaching degrees don’t complete their studies.
Research commissioned by The Front Project found that one reason for this is a lack of awareness about early childhood teaching (ECTs).
According to the research, there is no consistent understanding among parents and young people on what early childhood education is, the age range ECTs support, and whether early learning is intended as support for parents or education for young children.
Very few people understood the important role that teachers play in supporting young children to reach their full potential.
Why does this matter? And what does it have to do with startups?
The first five years of a child’s life lay the foundation for all future learning and skill development. During this period, the architecture of a child’s brain is shaped by their interactions with engaging, caring adults (including family and teachers and educators). Bachelor qualified, skilled teachers are able to grow and extend a child during this time, helping them to develop resilience, problem-solving, self-regulation, and social-emotional skills.
If something doesn’t change in Australia, demand will outstrip supply and we won’t have enough teachers to ensure that all children have access to the quality early childhood education they need to succeed and flourish in school and in life.
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This is where Future Tracks comes in.
Future Tracks is a new social enterprise under the umbrella of The Front Project that has been established to address the challenges outlined above – lifting both the status of the early childhood teaching profession and growing the next generation of teachers and leaders.
We partner with universities and TAFE’s to support students studying to become early childhood teachers. The program encourages students to complete their diploma or degree and gives them additional tools, knowledge and experience to ensure they are job ready when they graduate.
The Future Tracks program includes mentoring, leadership and professional practice, and most notably, paid employment in an early learning centre – an offering that is unique in Australia.
Future Tracks is growing a community of early childhood teachers and future sector leaders across Australia. We’re contributing to positive change in our early education system so that all children have access to quality teachers to support their learning and development.
Future Tracks has been up and running for 6 months, based out of Hub Southern Cross, and is set to grow even more in the future.
Hub has provided the perfect launching space to grow and expand with locations in Sydney and Brisbane – two of our focus geographies!
You can find more about the work of The Front Project and Future Tracks here, and if you want to work alongside inspiring businesses like them, find out more about a Hub Australia coworking membership here