After months of industry consultation and research, the Western Australian State Training Board has released its Social assistance and allied health workforce strategy.
Research found Western Australia’s social assistance and allied health industry was undergoing fundamental change coupled with rising demand for services, particularly in the disability and aged care sectors.
“Western Australia needs access to a strong supply of highly skilled workers to support its growing aged care, disability services, allied health and community services sectors. The health care and social assistance industry employs more than 172,000 Western Australians, and forecasts show this will grow by almost 40,000 people by 2023. We are working to ensure we are ahead of the game in skilling Western Australians to take up the jobs of the future. “ said Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery.
The Social assistance and allied health workforce strategy calls for a co-ordinated response to maximise the development and growth of a contemporary, skilled and flexible workforce to meet the growing needs of vulnerable people living in Western Australia. It identifies that the number of disability and aged care support workers needs to double over the next five years, and the vocational education and training (VET) sector must provide training that meets the needs of this workforce. Considering the current environment, the report highlighted it is likely the social assistance and allied health sectors will face challenges sustaining a skilled workforce.
Streamlining training pathways to provide flexible employment options for students, and enhancing the quality of training through a stronger focus on partnerships between TAFE and local employers are options to make the VET sector more accessible to industry and the public. As part of the National Partnership–Skilling Australia Fund signed by the McGowan Government in December 2018, a number of initiatives to boost the social assistance and allied health workforce and assist skills development in the sector are underway, including:
- an employer incentive scheme to increase apprenticeships and traineeships; and
- piloting an enterprise training program targeting growth of about 150 existing worker traineeships in the sector and prioritising regional delivery.
The State Government will work in partnership with industry, the Commonwealth Government, and education and training providers to grow a skilled workforce for the allied health and social assistance sectors in WA, including addressing barriers to participation in training programs.