HSSO report reveals critical issues and pain points impacting ECEC and human services

HSSO report reveals critical issues and pain points impacting ECEC and human services

by Freya Lucas

March 23, 2022

A new report from the Human Services Skills Organisation (HSSO) has indicated that Australia’s human services workforce – which includes early childhood education and care (ECEC) – needs significant, immediate and permanent changes to get in front of a burgeoning demand issue that is already impacting many facets of the human services sector.

 

Human services encompasses caring sectors such as aged care, disability services, early childhood education, allied health and veteran’s support, with many of those sectors reporting skills shortages, recruitment challenges, strained systems of governance and other issues. 

 

The Human Services Skills Organisation Workforce Forum Report, launched at a CEO breakfast in Hobart last week, reveals critical issues and pain points facing the sector. Human Services as a collective is the fastest growing sector in the Australian economy with an additional 250,000 jobs needed to meet the escalating demand by 2025.

 

Gathering feedback from forums held by HSSO, the report captures the perspectives of stakeholders including employers and training organisations who were vocal in the need to take a fundamentally different approach to tackle the problems at hand.

 

“Human services is the fastest growing industry in the Australian economy and providing skilled workers in the right place at the right time is our most pressing challenge,” HSSO CEO Jodi Schmidt said.

 

“The innate difficulty of the task that lies ahead is the need to move the dial on everything at once. It is not an incremental evolution – it is a significant revolution that requires immediate change, while simultaneously adopting even more change.”

 

“We must urgently get ahead of the curve to meet the challenges of the human services workforce demand that are nearly upon us. It is in our national interest to do so,” she added.

 

One of the chief functions of the HSSO is to support the sector to find new ways to source, attract and skill a workforce pipeline. The Workforce Forums were held with the aim of bringing employers and training organisations together to identify their most crucial workforce challenges.

 

Qualitative analysis of the information gathered revealed seven main areas of concern including:

 

  • Recruitment, 
  • Working conditions, 
  • Employee value proposition, 
  • Workforce pipeline, 
  • Ongoing training and development, 
  • Career pathways and;
  • New worker training initiatives.

 

Ms Schmidt said the Workforce Forums unearthed nuanced complexities of a sector under pressure from long term and dynamic conditions.

 

“From the changing nature of individuals, and their demand for more personalised care and support, through to the shifting market forces of an aging population, the need for growing digital literacy, and the inherent challenges for a sector looking to redefine its employee value proposition, the Human Service sector is steeped in workforce development challenges. Layered over the top has been the rolling impact of COVID-19,” she said.

 

As is the case with ECEC, the forums “overwhelmingly acknowledged” that to make permanent change, greater societal recognition was required.

“We need to encourage all Australians to advocate for quality care. We need to take greater responsibility and ownership of it. We need to make a choice and set the standard for all vulnerable Australians,” she said.

More than 500 people attended the workforce forums nationally, and the HSSO has engaged more broadly with more than 800 organisations, representing employers, sector peak bodies and registered training organisations. 

 

Many of the employers reported they are caught on “a relentless treadmill” of solving the workforce challenges of today – or even the next shift. 

  

“Effective and future-oriented workforce development strategies, and increased industry engagement, are critical to building a skilled workforce that can meet future challenges,“ Ms Schmidt said.

 

“We wanted to shine a light on the real issues to help us collectively identify where we can effectively make our start.”


To view the report in full please see here

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