Grade 11 and 12 students in the East Kootenay will be able to earn dual credits for high school graduation and post-secondary courses geared towards early childhood education starting in the fall.
The province is introducing 30 new dual credit programs, which will be available in the Southeast Kootenay (SD5) and Rocky Mountain (SD6) and Kootenay Lake school districts (SD8) through an online courses in partnership with the College of the Rockies, according to a news release.
“Early childhood educators (ECEs) play a vital role in supporting the growth and potential of our youngest learners in B.C.,” said Katrina Chen, Minister of State for Child Care. “Investing in the education of ECEs is investing in children, which is why we’re expanding the ECE dual-credit program to give more students opportunities to study and work in early learning and child care – a rewarding and in-demand career.”
Funding will come from a $4.1 million investment from the province in Budget 2022, along with an additional $1.15 million from the federal government as part of a childcare funding agreement between the two governments.
“There is a strong need for early childhood educators now and in the coming decade, and that’s why we are working to give high school students who are interested in a career as an ECE an opportunity to get a head start on their post-secondary studies,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care. “High school students who complete dual-credit courses are more likely to graduate on time and transition to post-secondary education, leading to better career opportunities, while also helping develop our province’s workforce in the early childhood education sector.”
The province is anticipating that 800 students across B.C. will enrol in the dual-credit programs by 2025.
Tuition cost for the courses are covered by the program.
“On top of all the great support early childhood educators provide to children and young families in B.C., they also support our economy and our efforts to address labour shortages,” said Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training. “By increasing the number of people studying to become early childhood educators and increasing parents’ ability to find child care, we are supporting parents to return to work or explore education or skills training themselves.”
According to the province, 30,500 new licensed childcare spaces have been funded since 2018. The provincial government is also forecasting 10,000 net new jobs for certified Early Childhood Educators and assistants will be opening in the next decade.