Established in 2021, the Early Childhood Educator (ECE) Apprenticeship Apprenticeships: An arrangement between a developing educator and an employer (e.g., a child care program) that allows the educator to participate in on-the-job professional learning and related coursework. Apprenticeship programs are often sponsored by government agencies and/or non-profit organizations. is a partnership between the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education (ADECE), Wallace State Community College, Troy Univesity-Dothan, and Athens State University to increase opportunities to enter the early education workforce. Students can train in early education programs in 15 counties. The ECE Apprenticeship provides on-the-job training with a mentor, and participants complete related technical instruction from institutions of higher education. Apprentices can obtain stackable credentials, including a Child Development Associate certification, an associate degree, and/or a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, all while employed with a child care provider. Apprentices pay no cost to participate, and they earn progressive wage increases while they are learning. To offset the cost of the apprenticeship for the employer, all apprentices submit a FAFSA and apply for TEACH scholarships, Leadership in Childcare Scholarships, and C3 Scholarships. They also work with a business service representative to seek additional funding through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and other grants. Any remaining costs are covered by ADECE and the Coleman Center for Early Learning and Family Enrichment at Troy University.
Alabama Works!. (n.d.). Alabama’s first apprenticeship for early educators established.
WAFF. (2023). Early Childhood Educator Apprenticeship program could help combat Alabama’s teacher shortage.
Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:
Learn more about ELS@H findings
The early education workforce is the foundation upon which all daily work and any expansion and quality improvement efforts rest. Research suggests that states and cities should invest in the workforce across all early education setting types, focusing on enhancing educators’ professional learning, compensation, and workplace conditions.
Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:
- Early educators play a critical role in supporting the well-being of young children and families across setting types.
- Yet their pay, benefits, and other professional supports are often inadequate in light of the job demands and their cost of living.