The government today announced a £2m apprenticeship bursary scheme for the early years profession.
Learners aiming at a career in early education will be able to apply for a bursary worth up to £1,500, with a further £300 available for more training, from September.
There will be up to 1,000 bursary places available.
Elizabeth Truss, Childcare and Education Minister, said: “Caring for and educating young children is a fantastically rewarding job.
“The bursaries announced today will make it easier for talented people to start a career in early education.
“Providing good quality early education is proven to help young children get a head-start in life, especially those who are from poorer backgrounds.
“I hope these bursaries encourage students to consider working in early education.”
In January, in More Great Childcare, the government said it would build a stronger and more professional early years workforce with more rigorous qualifications.
The apprenticeship bursary will be a transitional scheme ahead of the Early Years Educator qualifications in 2014. The Apprenticeship Bursary Scheme will also seek to support the delivery of the early learning places for two-year-olds.
The scheme, which will be run by the National College for Teaching and Leadership, will be open to applications from September.
To be eligible, applicants will need to secure an apprenticeship position in a nursery or other provision that delivers the early learning places for two year olds; and hold at least a GCSE, at grade C or above, in English and maths.
A spokesperson for the Association of Employment and Learning Providers said: “We welcome additional support for apprentices and are pleased that apprenticeships are seen as a major part of the solution in childcare training.
“We also hope that the National College will work closely with independent training providers who are already well established in the childcare sector on the allocation of the bursaries.
“We have some real concerns about excluding those without GCSEs in English or maths at grade C or above.
“We have also expressed our concern that at a time when we should be encouraging more apprenticeships in the sector, the introduction of loans for those in this group aged over 24 will reduce the potential take-up.”
Apprenticeships are expected to last an average of 20 months. They will consist of employment and study to gain a recognised qualification through various routes, including further education colleges.