18 April, 2024 | Posted by Michelle Hogan

3 Reasons Why Early Years Practitioners Should Upskill in 2024

smiling woman looking at laptop screen holding a pen and taking notes

In the rapidly evolving early childhood care and education sector, keeping up with the latest trends, practices and knowledge is essential for providing the best possible care and education to young children, giving them the best possible start in life.

In 2024, the importance of upskilling for early years practitioners has never been more evident.

In this article, we'll explore three compelling reasons why investing in professional development and upskilling is crucial for early years practitioners in 2024.

1. New Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Covers a Large Amount of the Cost 

Through this new pilot fund, the DCEDIY is providing an exceptional opportunity to support the cost of you gaining your level 7 BA (Ord) Early Childhood Care and Education or level 8 BA (Hons) Early Childhood Care and Education degree.

The fund helps early years educators pursue early learning and care (ELC) qualifications that have been approved by the Qualifications Advisory Board (QAB) while continuing to work in the sector, in line with commitments in Nurturing Skills: The Workforce Plan for Early Learning and Care and School-Age Childcare, 2022-2028.

The funding should make gaining your level 7 or level 8 degree in early childhood care and education more accessible by covering a large portion of the cost. 

How Much of the Cost Does the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Scheme Cover?

Fees for the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Scheme are calculated as follows:

  • Cost per academic year: €3,600
  • Nurture Fund Grant at 80% of fee: €2,880
  • Cost to student per academic year: €720

Important: If you remain working in the early years sector for 6 months after completion of the course, you will be entitled to reclaim 10% of the total fees i.e. €360 per academic year.

The total cost to the student, after this rebate, will be €720 for the 2 years of the level 7 degree.

Payment method – pay €720 to secure your place in year 1.

A similar amount will be payable on or before 30th June 2025 to secure your place and confirm progression to year 2.

Students will need to provide evidence of NSLF approval to Portobello Institute when applying for either of the degree programmes. 

From 1st May 2024, applicants can email Pobal, at NSLF@pobal.ie to request a link to the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Student Portal. Applicants will be required to complete a number of pre-requisite tasks prior to completing the application process.

The full NSLF application process will open in early June, with NSLF applicants being notified by Pobal of a decision early July.

2. Studying Has Never Been More Flexible with Blended Learning 

Another reason why early years practitioners should upskill in 2024 is because learning in your own time, at your own pace has never been so easy and accessible. 

At Portobello Institute, our degrees are delivered with you in mind and support by your side at all times. 

For example, our BA (Ord) Early Childhood Care and Education degree is structured for delivery over two academic years. There are two Saturday workshops, and four evening webinars per term as well as some sessions with your placement tutor.

The Saturday workshops are held online from 10 am to 1 pm with breaks throughout. The evening webinars are 1-1½ long and are scheduled between 7 and 9 pm to accommodate students who work full-time. All sessions are recorded so you may review the session at a later stage should you be unable to log in at the scheduled time.

We understand that most of our learners work full-time, have families of their own and other hobbies and commitments. Studying takes place in your own time and you are fully supported throughout. 

Corine Peters gained her BA (Ord) in Early Childhood Care & Education and BA (Hons) in Early Childhood Studies at Portobello Institute, following her passion to fulfil her potential in the career she loves.

This course at Portobello Institute was undeniably the right fit for me. As a mature student seeking to advance my career in early childhood education, the program’s comprehensive curriculum and flexible structure catered perfectly to my needs.

“The emphasis on practical skills and real-world application, coupled with the one-to-one mentorship during my BA (Hons), ensured a holistic and tailored learning experience.

“The online platform allowed me to balance my studies with a demanding work schedule and family commitments. The diverse range of tutors with various skill sets further enriched my learning, providing valuable insights.

“Additionally, the supportive environment at Portobello, coupled with their commitment to student success, fostered a sense of community that enhanced my overall educational journey.

“I chose Portobello Institute over other providers because their courses aligned seamlessly with my timetable, striking a balance between flexibility and structure."

You can read Corine's success story here.

3. Enhancing Career Opportunities and Professional Growth

Professional development and upskilling not only benefit early years practitioners in their current roles but also open doors to new career opportunities and advancement.

By acquiring new skills, certifications, and qualifications, practitioners can expand their career prospects within the field of early childhood education.

Whether it's pursuing leadership roles, specialising in a particular area of early childhood education, or transitioning to roles in policy-making or academia, upskilling enhances practitioners' professional growth and empowers them to make a greater impact in the field.

More and more young people entering the sector and working their way up through the academic levels 7, 8 and even master's level 9 to become the future leaders, lecturers and policy-makers of the early years sector.

You can not only keep up with this trend but are encouraged to use your experience to join them and improve the sector with your years of practical knowledge, combined with academic underpinnings.

With a level 8 degree in Early Childhood Care and Education, you can work for government bodies, and the inspectorate, become a tutor who teaches the next generation, move into child protection areas, pivot to inclusive education and so much more. 

Register your Interest in Studying with the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund at Portobello Institute 

Feeling inspired to upskill in 2024?

Please fill in this form to let us know that you are interested and we will contact you with more information.

If you are interested in obtaining funding through the Nurturing Skills Learner Fund Scheme please register your interest by completing the form above and we will be in touch with you.

If you have any questions you can book a consultation call with our expert course advisor Sarah Coyne email sarah.coyne@portobelloinstitute.com or call 01 892 0041.


Portobello Insider

Join our mailing list to receive the latest insights and exclusive content from your chosen department of interest