The social work & human services workforce : report from a national study of education, training and workforce needs

Healy, Karen & Lonne, Bob (2010) The social work & human services workforce : report from a national study of education, training and workforce needs. Australian Learning and Teaching Council, NSW, Australia.


This report analyses the national curriculum and workforce needs of the social work and human services workforce. Australia’s community and health services are among the fastest growing sectors of employment in the nation but the sustainability of an appropriately qualified workforce is threatened. Yet there is little integration of education and workforce planning for the community services sector. This contrasts markedly with the health services sector, where key stakeholders are collaboratively addressing workforce challenges. Our research confirmed rapid growth in the social work and human services workforce and it also identified: • an undersupply of professionally qualified social work and human service practitioners to meet workforce demand; • the rapid ageing of the workforce with many workers approaching retirement; • limited career and salary structures creating disincentives to retention; • a highly diverse qualification base across the workforce. This diversity is inconsistent with the specialist knowledge and skills required of practitioners in many domains of community service provision. Our study revealed a lack of co-ordination across VET and higher education to meet the educational needs of the social work and human services workforce. Our analysis identified: • strong representation of equity groups in social work and related human service programs, although further participation of these groups is still needed; • the absence of clear articulation pathways between VET and higher education programs due the absence of co-ordination and planning between these sectors; • substantial variation in the content of the diverse range of social work and human service programs, with accredited programs conforming to national standards and some others in social and behavioural sciences lacking any external validation; • financial obstacles and disincentives to social work and human service practitioners in achieving postgraduate level qualifications. We recommend that: • DEEWR identify accredited social work and human services courses as a national education priority (similar to education and nursing). This will help ensure the supply of professional workers to this sector; • VET and higher education providers are encouraged to collaboratively develop clear and accessible educational pathways across the educational sectors; • DEEWR undertake a national workforce analysis and planning processes in collaboration with CSDMAC, and all social and community services stakeholders, to ensure workforce sustainability; and • COAG develop a national regulation framework for the social and community services workforce. This would provide sound accountability systems, and rigorous practice and educational standards necessary for quality service provision. It will also ensure much needed public confidence in this workforce.

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ID Code: 39674
Item Type: Report
Refereed: No
Keywords: HERN
ISBN: 9780646531571
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIAL WORK (160700)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 please consult the author
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Deposited On: 24 Jan 2011 05:51
Last Modified: 21 Jun 2017 14:44

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