Nicole Klaric is working at a childcare centre in Port Hardy since completing North Island College’s ECE diploma program. Photo courtesy NIC

NIC to get ECE seats for evening/weekend program

There’s a ‘dire need’ for more certified early childhood educators, according to NIC dean

There’s already a huge demand for childcare spaces and educators around B.C., and that demand is only going to increase, according to the provincial government, so it is providing $220,000 in training spaces at North Island College (NIC) to help address that need.

“Based on the 2017 Labour Market Outlook, B.C. will need 9,100 additional early childhood educators by 2027,” the government says in its release.

“Training quality early childhood educators is key to ensuring that B.C. children have access to quality early childhood education programs in communities throughout B.C.”

NIC already runs ECE programs at its Campbell River, Comox Valley, Port Hardy, Port Alberni and Ucluelet campuses, so it was a natural fit to add more space to their offerings.

“More early childhood education training spaces at North Island College will open the doors to a rewarding career for more students,” says Minister of Advanced Education, Skills and Training Melanie Mark.

“Families deserve access to quality child care that they can afford, and making sure ensuring we have enough care providers is a key part in making that happen.”

The money being allotted to NIC will go towards a new part-time early childhood care and education certificate. Unlike NIC’s current program, which is a one-year, full-time certificate, the new 24-seat program will run on evenings and weekends, beginning in January 2019.

Kathleen Haggith, chair of the Health and Human Services faculty at NIC, says her hope is that by offering seats in a program that runs evenings and weekends, more people will have the opportunity to become certified.

“The intention of this program is to provide an educational opportunity for individuals who perhaps are already working in the field and would like to – or need to – complete their certification,” Haggith says. “It also provides an opportunity for those who may not be able to pursue their education otherwise, be it that they have work commitments, family commitments, we have a very diverse learner group and so this is just another way we can create another option for people.”

The program will run at the Comox Valley campus, Haggith says, because, it is the most central of the school’s locations, but add that they “hope that in the future we’ll be successful in other proposals so that we’ll be able to offer programs in other structures, as well.”

“Most of a child’s brain development happens in the first six years of life, and that’s why it’s so important to give children access to quality early learning experiences,” says Katrina Chen, B.C.’s Minister of State for Child Care.

“That’s also why providing access to education for more ECEs who are committed to caring for young children — especially infants and toddlers — is so important. These 24 new seats mean that more B.C. parents will be able to access high-quality care for their kids.”

And it’s certainly a need. Haggith says NIC’s ECE graduates are immediately scooped up and put to work, and daycare facilities are clamouring for more.

“We work very closely with our communities to try and address needs within health and human services,” Haggith says.

“We’re acutely aware of the need for individuals who are both certificate and diploma prepared.”

For more information on the program, visit https://bit.ly/2KzwYTj

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