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After Cessnock local Erin Kiem graduated with a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education and Care (Birth-5) degree at TAFE NSW Glendale this year she never dreamed she would secure the first role she applied for.

Adding to the fantasy-turned-reality, Erin scored even more. Her new job is at The Learning Centre in sunny Lismore on the NSW Far North Coast, where she and her partner are still unpacking boxes in their new home.

At 29 Erin is entering the industry a little older than most because she took the leap to change career direction.

“I have always loved working with children and began studying a psychology degree but it wasn’t taking me where I wanted it to go. I deferred and ended up working with families doing informal tutoring, which gave me an insight to know that’s what I wanted to do,” Ms Kiem said.

“I researched all available courses and TAFE NSW was the best option. It had the best reputation, proximity was great and with the amount of placements it achieves I felt you got more support and on-the-job experience. And I did. I loved studying a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care. It’s a different way of learning to uni, where you’re one of 200. At TAFE, you’re one of 15 and I had really great teachers who encouraged me.

“The thing I love about early childhood education is the relationships you build with children and families, and watching them grow and develop under your instruction as you nurture them individually.

“One valuable aspect of the course was our weekly playgroup session with a local centre, where the kids came to us. It was great to see how educators ran that excursion and to get that hands-on, real-world experience.”

Certificate III to Bachelor degree

“After the Cert III I worked at a long daycare centre nearby and wasn’t sure whether to a degree or diploma. I decided on a degree because although it would take a little longer it gave me more opportunities,” Ms Kiem said.

“I was trying to be more future proof and that proved correct. It was very easy to get my new teaching position. I was successful with the first job I applied for! My degree was so focused on early childhood, which is a contrast to uni degrees because they focus mostly on primary age, it’s given me an advantage over uni graduates.”

Director of The Learning Cottage in Lismore, Alex Ireland, says Erin displayed great confidence and enthusiasm.

“During the interview Erin impressed us with her early education knowledge and personal philosophy,” Ms Ireland said.

“Erin has supported us in crafting a home-like environment, striving to be inclusive of others’ cultures and the wants and needs of our children, families and educators. She also has an enthusiasm and knowledge for science and technology education. This has taken the pre-schoolers on a range of explorative journeys, encouraging them to question the world around them and gain a greater understanding of why and how.

“Erin has formed a very special bond with the children, enabling the week to flow smoothly when yesterday’s discussions and outcomes can be extended upon, which allows our children to discover new ideas and interests.

“TAFE NSW has been excellent in providing Erin with the right skills and knowledge. She entered our service with a willingness to learn and assist us in providing the highest quality care and education possible.”

Australia’s largest training provider, TAFE NSW offers over 1200 courses, from certificates to degrees. Many can be studied online via TAFE Digital, when and where it suits students. Visit www.tafensw.com.au or call 131 601.