The McGowan Government today released its blueprint to address the growing demand for skilled workers in the State’s rapidly expanding social assistance and allied health sector.
The strategic action plan addresses 25 recommendations put forward by the State Training Board, government’s chief industry advisory body on WA’s training and workforce needs, in its Social Assistance and Allied Health: Future Workforce Skills report.
The report and its recommendations, which specifically aim to develop the Aboriginal health and wellbeing, mental health and alcohol and other drugs support workforces, were informed by extensive consultation with the social assistance and allied health sector across WA, undertaken in conjunction with Community Skills WA.
Twenty-four of the report’s 25 recommendations have been supported by the State Government.
The healthcare and social assistance sector employs more than 191,600 Western Australians and this number is forecast to grow by more than 15 per cent, or an additional 30,000 employees, over the next five years.
The State Government, through the State Training Board and its industry consultation as part of the WA Skills Summits, has been proactive in identifying this emerging issue early and preparing the sector for future growth.
Initiatives already targeting the social assistance and allied health sector include:
- lowering fees for 25 courses targeting jobs in the care sector including through the ‘Lower fees, local skills’ initiative;
- collaborating with industry to introduce a new pre-employment Job Ready program in ageing and disability care;
- introducing 12 free and low-fee skill sets to enable new entrants to take up job opportunities in the sector;
- making the Integrating Mental Health Practice and Introduction to Direct Support skill sets course fee-free for all students;
- piloting pre-traineeships to prepare high school students for traineeships in aged care and disability services and community health and wellbeing;
- providing low-fee existing worker traineeships in childcare and aged and disability care; and
- funding a dedicated NDIS Job Matching Service across WA to link job seekers and graduates with jobs and NDIS providers.
State Government agencies, including the Department of Training and Workforce Development, Department of Health, WA Country Health Service, Mental Health Commission and Department of Communities, are already working collaboratively with industry and non-government organisations on initiatives that specifically target the report’s recommendations.
The report builds on the State Training Board’s extensive work in the sector, which included the establishment of a cross-government steering committee in 2017 and the development of an initial workforce strategy for the social assistance and allied health sector, released by the State Government in 2019.
The report and State Government action plan are available on the State Training Board’s website: https://www.stb.wa.gov.au.
As stated by Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery:
“I thank the State Training Board, Community Skills WA and all involved in producing this report, which is a valuable tool for government.
“The State Training Board has been at the forefront of understanding challenges faced by the social assistance and allied health sector across Western Australia, shaping State Government programs to respond, and driving solutions to address workforce priorities.
“Priorities identified in the report will ensure our Government’s significant investment in training continues to support the social assistance and allied health sector’s current and future workforce needs.”
As stated by State Training Board chair Jim Walker:
“With the social assistance and allied health sector expected to experience some of the largest growth in jobs over the next five years, it’s vital that the training system is ready to deliver the skills the community needs.
“On behalf of the Board I thank the project committee’s Chair, Chris Hall, whose deep knowledge of the care sector and leadership has been pivotal to the Board’s work in this space.
“The Board’s deep understanding of the WA vocational education and training system, combined with its active engagement with the community and its network of specialised training advisory bodies, ensures government and businesses are on the front foot when it comes to developing the skills WA needs to prosper.”