**Information sourced from the Community Sector and Development IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast (forthcoming).
The Health Care and Social Assistance industry is the largest employing industry in Australia. In 2018 there were close to 1.7 million people who were employed in this industry, which is projected to increase to over 1.9 million by 2023.
Within this broader industry, employment levels for the occupation of Welfare Support Workers have been variable over the past decade.
For Health and Welfare Service Managers, employment numbers have steadily increased up until 2017 but dropped in 2018 to their lowest level since 2011. However, both of these occupations have a projected increase in employment numbers between 2018 and 2023. There are also a small number of Indigenous Health Workers within this industry, projected to be about 1,600 by 2023.
2018 Social Services Industry Insights
Skills and occupations in demand:
Industry insights on skills needs
Future skill needs indicated in the Community Sector and Development IRC’s 2018 Skills Forecast include:
- digital literacy skills and competency in using different technology platforms
- ‘soft’ or interpersonal skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, emotional judgement, professional ethics and global citizenship
- emotional intelligence and resiliency skills
- cultural competency skills.
Consistent with the first two of these future skill needs, the job advertisement data for the broader industry indicates that the top two generic skills in demand by employers are communication and computer literacy.
A survey of the Family Services Workforce conducted on behalf of the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services found that 41% of respondents (of which there were about 600) only felt partially equipped by their qualifications to undertake their work role. The report speculated that in addition to course content this may have implications for the importance of students having quality field training.
A Workforce Development Strategy for Specialist Homeless Services developed by Shelter Tasmania Inc. identified a variety of specific skills training needs for that sector in Tasmania. The needs that were identified reflected changing ways of service delivery and increased support needs of clients. Needs were divided into:
- client focused which is training for skills directly supporting the homeless and their individual needs
- organisational focused which is training on organisational practices and service delivery.
A report on the Community Managed Mental Health Sector National Disability Insurance Scheme Workforce has found that the NDIS has changed the nature of work with mental health clients and consequent need for increased skills. Interestingly, a survey of community managed organisations identified the singular importance of relationship skills in this new environment.
The report, Future job openings for new entrants by industry and occupation, forecasts that employment in the occupation of Health and Welfare Support Workers will grow by 2.3% per year over the period 2016–24 due to such factors as the implementation of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).