One in four jobs created in Australia by 2018 will be in the community services and health sectors.
That’s the staggering statistic to come out of last week’s 2015 Environmental Scan (EScan) from the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC).
The growth is undeniably big – and it’s clear that there’s a huge amount of work for community organisations to do to ensure they can continue to recruit and maintain an effective workforce.
The report is the most comprehensive look at the community services and health sectors in Australia, using input from organisations, government and training providers alike.
In this year’s report, the CS&HISC highlights five key trends that anyone responsible for recruiting and managing staff in the sector should take note of:
1. New service delivery models
The key finding from the report is that the community services and health sectors are rapidly changing the way they deliver services.
This is in response to a number of factors, including increased and changing demands from clients, a more competitive funding environment, and the move to a client-centred approach to service delivery thanks to initiatives such as the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Many organisations are already changing how they administer their business processes to meet these changes, and most importantly, leaders are reconsidering the mix of skills their workforce will need to meet this growing and evolving landscape.
2. Increased demand for certain types of workers
With an additional 229,400 community sector and health jobs predicted to be created in just the next few years, understanding the types of roles being created is incredibly important for not-for-profit leaders, managers and HR professionals.
Given Australia’s ageing population, it’s not surprising that the CS&HISC expects aged care jobs to experience the most growth in coming years (see diagram below).
However significant growth is also expected in other areas, including a mix of medical professionals like registered nurses and GPs, alongside social support roles like social workers and welfare support workers.
3. Changing worker skill sets
An evolving sector means that new and expanded skill sets will be required from the community sector and health workforce. The CS&HISC has identified a number of key skill areas that organisations will need to focus on recruiting for in the coming years. These include:
- Increased scope of support worker roles:To keep up with sector changes, support workers will be expected to have a diverse set of skills. In practice, this means a focus on employing people with a broader skill set including; strong literacy and numeracy skills, marketing skills to help promote their organisations; cultural competency and broader health-related knowledge.
- Emerging demand for care coordination roles: Organisations will need to look to employing people in “care coordination” roles to meet a service delivery model that is all about connecting a single client with multiple services in order to meet their specific and unique needs.
- Current workers will need to expand and develop their skills: Organisations will need to upskill staff so that they have the knowledge and skills they need to work with people with increasingly complex needs.
- Focus on business leadership, management and administration: In an increasingly competitive funding environment, people with business acumen and great management skills will be more important than ever. People with financial management, marketing and strategic business-planning experience will become increasingly important for organisations, and employers may start looking to the corporate sector for these skills – if they haven’t already.
- Staff with technological knowledge and skills: The increasing use of technology to manage administrative functions and frontline clinical services means recruiting new staff – or training current staff – in the use of these technologies will be crucial.
4. A focus on national workforce planning
The report acknowledges that for small organisations – especially in an environment of funding uncertainty – workforce planning often takes a back seat.
To counter this, the CS&HISC believes that a national approach to workforce planning, as previously outlined in their 2014 report, should be a top priority.
So what might this national approach take into account? The report recommends a focus on:
- Meeting long-term projected needs for the sector – particularly the massive expansion of aged care;
- Recognising and supporting the contribution that 2.7 million unpaid or informal carers make to the sector;
- Broader workforce development challenges, such as low pay or a misalignment of qualifications with pay levels; and
- The important role that vocational education and training (VET) will play in ensuring that newly-qualified workers will meet the needs of organisations and their clients.
5. Vocational education and training
VET is crucial to ensuring that the community services and health sector workforce can meet the needs of the wider community. However, training data and industry feedback suggest that training needs to improve.
Variable and poor quality training is one major issue, as is the sector’s limited capacity to offer high quality work placements for the quickly-growing number of students.
The good news is that there have been some great successes with employer-led VET programs that have resulted in higher completion and satisfaction rates.
Employers should be aware though that the VET system is undergoing a transformation of its own. Funding is being reduced, the Health and Community Services Training Packages are under review to meet new industry standards, fresh legislation around training organisation regulation is being introduced, and training package design and development is being looked at it new ways.
Those are the five main trends that the community services and health sectors will need to respond to in the next few years. For more detail, you can find the full 2015 EScan report on the CS&HISC website.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on the latest EScan report and what you think these trends will mean for your organisation in the comments below.