By Tina Glendadakis
With education and childcare programs in Ontario being hit with cutbacks, early childhood education (ECE) at Ryerson is learning to live in the new Ontario.
June Pollard, director of the ECE school, says students are being trained in different fields so they have more job-hunting options when they leave school.
“One of the strengths in the program is that there is a lot of choices that students can go into when they graduate,” says Pollard. “If, when they come in with just sort of one thing in mind that they want to do and don’t explore other possibilities, they’re not really taking full advantage of the opportunities that are there.”
ECE students are required to do a volunteer placement within their field of study between third and fourth year. The school sets up these placements, and many students end up working in these positions after they graduate, says Pollard.
Some even venture overseas, she says. “We have one student who did her placement in Kenya and another in Zimbabwe. Another graduate is working in a program in Trinidad and did her placement there, too.”
But cuts to childcare and education, fields employing more than half of all ECE graduates, are being drastically reduced.
Melanie Collett, a third-year ECE student, would like to get a job back in her home province of Newfoundland, but, “Job prospects there are not promising unless the economy turns around.”
Instead, she hopes to continue her education after Ryerson, in a teacher’s college or a master’s program.
Third-year student Cara Stephens says she has an “excellent” chance for finding work after graduation.
She says hands-on experience, coupled with her university degree, and a two-year diploma from Georgian College in Barrie gives her a better chance at finding a job than other students.
“I have a lot of strength in [ECE] and I’m not worried at all,” says Stephens. She has worked with children with special needs for six years.
However, she says “early childhood educators don’t get enough recognition for what they do in the form of getting paid.”