Giving Compass' Take:

• Larry Jensen discusses how apprenticeships in early childhood education could improve the quality of teachers and offer financial security.

• Why are highly educated early childhood educators critical to the success of children? How can these education programs become more accessible?

• Learn about a new center tracking policies that impact early childhood education.

Last week the nation observed National Apprenticeship Week. When people think of apprenticeships, they seldom associate them with early childhood educators. But these programs are promising solutions for improving the knowledge and skills of the early childhood workforce. Here’s why.

Apprenticeships prepare workers for a job in their chosen career pathway while meeting the needs of the labor market for a highly skilled workforce. The learn-while-you-earn model provides workers with paid on-the-job training and instruction tied to attainment in national skills standards. In the case of the early childhood industry, it is generally the Child Development Associate, a national credential requiring at least 120 hours of formal training within the last five years. Apprentices can be youth, adults who are new hires, or current employees looking to upgrade their skills.

A high-quality, early childhood education workforce is essential to build and to sustain a strong economy. The challenges we face today on this front are how to improve the quality of this workforce — who are entrusted with the care and education of our next generation — that includes creation of a viable pipeline of highly skilled early childhood educators to meet the needs of working families and their children, plus increased wages to help attain improved financial security.

Historically, a career in early childhood has been considered low-skill. In too many states, all that was needed was a high school diploma. We now know that in order to be effective, early childhood providers need training rooted in child development theory coupled with on-the-job learning.

Read the full article about apprenticeships provide opportunity for early childhood educators by Larry Jensen at Inside Sources.