The Victorian Government has announced a new initiative that will improve the social service industry, by growing the number of skilled workers across the state.
A promise of free TAFE training for Victorians in 30 ‘priority courses’ including community services, disability, mental health, personal care and ageing will arm the country’s fastest growing workforce with highly skilled and qualified workers.
“Growing our state means growing opportunity for our children, through stronger schools, better job pathways and genuine employment opportunities,” Victorian Council of Social Service Chief Executive Officer, Emma King says.
Other initiatives include extra funding to build community resilience and combat social isolation, investment in engaging Aboriginal communities, a boost for clinical mental health, drug and alcohol services, support for the unemployed, a program for teenaged completing an apprenticeship or traineeship during secondary school and a push to employ more career counsellors in government schools.
The initiatives have been made possible by the 2018 Victorian Budget, which has a significant focus on education, getting young people ‘job ready’ and helping people retrain for new and emerging professions.
According to the Future Social Service Institute, Department of Employment projections show 1 in 4 new jobs across Australia to 2022 will be in the health care and social assistance sector – making up 2.5 million out of the 9.5 million overall additional workers required.
More than 1 million additional workers are needed to support the rollout of the NDIS alone, and in some regional areas the disability workforce will need to more than double to meet demand in the next few years.
Examples include Victoria’s outer Gippsland region, where NDIS modelling suggests the disability workforce will need to increase by up to 216 percent by mid-2019, an increase of more than 1,200 employees.
The free courses will act as an enrollment incentive, as students previously had to pay $1,000 upfront.
Director of the Future Social Service Institute, David Hayward says “it’s a no brainer.”
“It sends a strong cultural message about the importance of working in that sector. It’s a priority of us as its priority for the state and its economy.”
He says a huge amount of growth in the disability workforce can be attributed to the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
“Over the next five years a quarter of a million extra workers will be required in the social service industry and disability makes up about 15 percent of that.”
Since 2017, the Future Social Service Institute has been providing full tuition scholarships for Certificate III in Individual Support and Certificate IV in Disability at RMIT.
However, a fresh approach to the course through the incorporation of people who received care services or work within the social service industry saw the students explore and understand the complex issues faced by people with disability.
“The students said their lives had been changed and they now see people with disability differently and look forward to working in the industry,” Mr Hayward says.
“Over the next five years we will see a whole new set of qualifications, careers, pay and recognition of the value of people working in the industry.”