This early childhood educator trainee has gained a new lease on life

This early childhood educator trainee has gained a new lease on life

Early childhood educator trainee Chin Chin went back to study for the first time in 20 years. Now, she’s loving working with young children and earning a wage while she learns.


It’s never too late to switch career paths or go back to school to learn something completely new. Chin Chin, a 50-year-old single mother from Ballarat, is proof of that.

Wanting to change life direction, Chin Chin took up a traineeship at a local childcare centre to work towards becoming a qualified early childhood educator. This commencing employment, she started undertaking her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care CHC30121 studies at Chisholm, to make sure she was gaining the theoretical skills she needed for the job.

While Chin Chin was slightly nervous to head back to the classroom, she says the move has really paid off.

“When you want to leave your comfort zone, you’re nervous and you don't know whether it's right or wrong,” she says.

“I hadn’t studied for the last 20 years but you’re never too late to learn.”

Now, placed with Aurrum Kids close to her home in Ballarat, she’s putting the early childhood education skills she’s learning at TAFE into practice on the job.

“I receive lots of achievement daily. I learn from the kids. They come to me. They hold my hands. That means I gain their trust. I feel I have a bright future ahead of me,” she says.

Under the traineeship program, Chin Chin also receives a wage for the work she does at the centre and is eligible for additional government funding payments.

“I have fun here, but I also receive payment, so, I really feel too lucky to be here,” she says.

Aurrum Kids is a purpose-built service in Ballarat that has capacity for up to 120 children. The organisation runs childcare services across Victoria and New South Wales.

Aurrum Kids Ballarat Centre Manager, Sue, says Chin Chin’s thriving in the traineeship so far.

“Chin Chin’s doing an amazing job at the moment. She's very enthusiastic and has just been right in there from the get-go,” says Sue.

There’s high demand for early childhood educators in Australia – especially in regional areas like Ballarat – a trend that Sue sees play out on the ground.

“The landscape in childcare has changed a lot – we're seeing a lot more centres springing up everywhere. So, our need for staff is incredible at the moment,” she says.

One avenue that helps the centre develop more qualified staff is the partnership with Jobs Victoria and Chisholm, which places students like Chin Chin who are completing a traineeship in early childhood education by completing a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care CHC30121.

“Our organisation has just struck up the partnership with Chisholm and they’re facilitating the traineeship program and we've got quite a few trainees with us now. Jobs Victoria has allowed that to happen,” says Sue.

Due to the high demand for childcare workers across the sector, the Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care is currently being offered free of charge under the Government’s Free TAFE for priority courses program.

Sue says the traineeship model means her centre can develop enthusiastic and job-ready early childhood educators like Chin Chin.

“Chin Chin came through on a tour and I could see that passion already there,” says Sue. “I thought she might fit our organisation. Then she started up a traineeship and that's how she's come to be with us.”

While receiving invaluable mentorship from experienced educators like Sue, Chin Chin is also supported by expert trainers in her course at Chisholm, meaning she gets a well-rounded insight into the profession.

“It's on-the-job learning and on-the-job training – and Chin Chin does some components online, to learn the theoretical side of things,” explains Sue.

“Essentially, Chin Chin can learn on the job and complete her schooling, whilst getting paid.”

Chin Chin says the traineeship at Aurrum Kids has been a great experience so far – and the results are easy to see.

“I feel my life is really regained. I feel full of energy,” she says. “People say that I don't look like 50!”

What is a traineeship?

A traineeship works much like an apprenticeship. While you complete your studies at a training provider like Chisholm, you also work with an organisation where you can put your skills into practice on the job and earn a wage.

How does a childcare traineeship work?

As an early childhood educator trainee, you’ll first find employment in a centre near where you live, then begin working towards your Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care at Chisholm.

To make sure you gain the skills and confidence you need in the industry, you’ll be mentored by experienced early childhood educators at your centre and guided by your trainers at Chisholm, in the classroom or online.

Do you get paid in a childcare traineeship?

Yes! As well as earning a wage for the work you do as a trainee, you’ll also be eligible for Federal Government payments, including:

  • $4000 in milestone-based training support payments*
  • An additional $2500 Australian Apprentice Training Support Payment (AATSP)*

The Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care is also currently offered free of charge under the Free TAFE program, so you won’t pay any tuition fees.

*Conditions apply

How can you start a traineeship?

Visit the website to learn more, attend an online information session, apply via the Jobs Victoria portal, or complete an enquiry form to be contacted by a Chisholm ECE Coordinator.

Federal funding runs until June 2023 and places are limited, so make sure you apply now to secure your spot in the program!