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How WorkAbility Queensland is building the NDIS workforce

While the arrival of the NDIS brings long-awaited consumer choice and control over how people living with a disability are supported, for the Community Services Industry it represents a series of massive challenges, especially around workforce.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) estimates that over the next 5 years, Queensland will need an additional 15,000 to 19,000 new full-time equivalent workers to support the NDIS rollout.  

Given the casual and part-time nature of the work, this could result in as many as 30,000 new workers being needed.

Just one of the many challenges facing the Industry includes how to attract, onboard and support that many suitable workers in such a short timeframe.

The CSIA’s very own Industry Development Manager, Matthew Gillett is the project manager at the forefront of a consortium working on solutions to this problem.

The consortium is WorkAbility Queensland, a group comprised of the Health and Community Services Workforce Council, NDS Queensland, QCOSS and CSIA.   

CSIA’s key role in all of this sits with governance and the state-wide strategy.

 

Workability Queensland

The big-ticket items so far

So, what has this group been working on exactly and where is it all heading?

1.    Education and Training Issues Paper and subsequent recommendations.

The CSIA has been working with a state advisory committee on a whole range of issues including whether the current training available to workers in the disability services space is fit for the future.

The advisory committee consists of individuals with lived experience of disability, consumer groups, employers, training organisations, universities, various government agencies and other stakeholders in what WorkAbility Queensland call the skills ecosystem. 

“The people on the committee with lived-experience were highlighting for us that the previous certificate level disability training is not going to cut it as the NDIS rolls out,” says Matthew.

“They were particularly clear about this in terms of the shift towards people with a disability having more choice and control over the supports they receive and how they receive them.

“So, we did quite a bit of work to consult around the vocational education and training sector to identify the issues and look at how we might improve the fit between training and the NDIS,” he says.

 

 

In collaboration with the vocational education and training sector, an Education and Training Issues Paper and series of state-wide consultations were put together which looked at:

  • what issues existed for the future of the disability workforce and how we might adjust the education and training environment
  • how we can work together to improve the ways in which new entrants to the sector are supported to be job ready and to have the skills they need
  • what opportunities exist to support the current workforce to move across to the new environment and be successful in the NDIS.

All of this took place late 2016 and early 2017, culminating in two sets of recommendations around:

“The consortium is now working with the Queensland Government on a training strategy to implement many of those recommendations,” says Matthew

“Some of the recommendations have already supported and will be announced through the new NDIS Training Strategy and VET investment plan.”

Disability sector workforce

2.    The Higher Education Initiative

This work is really just beginning to take shape now, with a new recruit to the CSIA team soon to be announced as the project leader.

“For this initiative, we’ll be using a similar approach to that used in the VET project,” Matthew says.

“We’ll be holding consultations with the university sector to understand and respond to the NDIS, particularly in areas like allied health.

“We want to know how we might support more clinical placements with people living with a disability, or in disability settings,” he says.

“We’ll be looking at how we can influence the curriculum of higher education qualifications to include a more explicit understanding of disability and working within the NDIS.”

Obviously, there are a wide range of roles that exist within the disability sector. The WorkAbility Queensland team will be highlighting the breadth of these roles through this work, including disability sector careers in business administration, management, marketing and communications, and many other related disciplines.  

NDIS at university

 

3.    Fit-for-purpose NDIS Training research

Matthew tells us that we’re seeing a speed of jobs growth in the disability sector that is unprecedented in an any industry, any time in the past.

“It’s critical we support the workers we’ve currently got in the sector and suppport them to transition well to the new environment,” says Matthew.

“We have to grow by up to 30,000 workers, and if we lose too many of the current workers we not only lose years worth of experience, but we we’ll have to find a lot more new workers too. 

“So, with that in mind, we’re about to conduct some research into what new skills workers need in order to support choice and control under the NDIS,” he says.

This research work will then look at what proven training products exist to support the worker transition. The intent being to channel people into the training they need over the next 12-months in order to prepare the sector for the NDIS as quickly as possible.

 

NDIS workforce in Queensland

 

Recurring themes

Matthew tells us the consistent feedback across the board (from employers, families, people living with a disability and existing workers) is that the most crucial factor for the future successful disability worker is to really have the right attitude, the right values and the right match to participants' needs and preferences.

“We need to recruit and train people who are genuinely interested in supporting people with a disability,” says Matthew.

“It’s really important to make sure that people with a disability are getting a quality service and are safe from potential harm or neglect - and this is where appropriate training is really important.

But skills come second. If we make sure the people we recruit are the right fit, they can be trained into their role,” he says.

“The NDIS really is an incredibly important social reform, it does present the opportunity to transform the lives of people living with a disability and their families,” says Matthew.

“While we’re working on an organisational and workforce response, we’re also working very hard to keep people living with a disability at the centre of it all,” he says.

“At the end of the day, from the WorkAbility project, we’re looking to support a paradigm shift that will transform people’s lives.”

Transform lives of people living with a disability

 

What’s next?

Showcasing technologies

Further work is also set to take place through WorkAbility Queensland and the CSIA on showcasing new technologies to support the workforce through the NDIS rollout.

Platforms like HireUp and Better Caring are fantastic examples of the tools people with a disability will be using to find the best fit support workers for them. Employers are also seeing the opportunites for sites like these to help them match workers and customers as the NDIS rolls out.

Check out this article we’ve previously written about these sorts of platforms

 

  

 

Also under investigation as part of this work are HR management systems that can better support scheduling, rostering, timesheet, invoicing and other elements required to ensure business success in the brand new NDIS environment.

“We’ll be doing a bit of work to showcase what we've found and to help organisations understand and access the new technologies that might help them achieve their goals,” says Matthew.

 

Training quality improvements

The CSIA, along with QCOSS, will also be working together with registered training organisations (RTOs) to improve the quality of training delivery in the brave new NDIS world.

“We’ll be offering some professional development activities targeting RTO’s, and also working on supporting Industry-led review of RTO training through a validation network model,” says Matthew.

“So basically, this means getting RTO’s and Industry players together, sitting down to look at the assessment tools RTO’s are using and providing Industry advice on whether they really do to match the real world standards required in the Industry for jobs at that level.”

 

 

Jobs expos

But none of this work is any good to anyone if we aren’t attracting new people to the disability sector in the first place.

One of the things WorkAbility Queensland will be doing to address this includes a series of jobs expos in Ipswich, Toowoomba, Rockhampton, Cairns and South East Queensland.

Keep an eye on  WorkAbility website for details as these come up later in the year.

 

 

What can you do to get involved?

If you’d like to get involved with WorkAbility Queensland’s regional working groups as the NDIS rolls out in your region click below for more detail.

 

  

 

Organisations that are keen to work with the CSIA on targeted strategies to attract new workers or upskill their current workforce can contact Matthew Gillett by clicking the button below.

  

 

WorkAbility Queensland Consortia partners


 

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