A pathway for young people into aged care and disability support
Over the last year the National Youth Employment Body and the Transition to Work National Community of Practice have supported five communities to implement a coherent and tailored skills pathway into aged care and disability support for young people. The trial has gained visibility nationally, demonstrating what it takes to build a young workforce for a sector in demand of a younger workforce, during a global pandemic. Forty-eight young people have successfully completed the pathway, with many confidently moving into employment or further training relevant to their aspirations and goals.
The Brotherhood of St Laurence (BSL), the enabling organisation, provided the methodology, research and evaluation expertise to enable collaborative efforts. Transition to Work providers (Lead Partner organisations) led the implementation, in partnership with representatives from key sectors (employers, community organisations, government and training providers), co-designing, adapting and implementing the training pathway in the communities of Darwin, Penrith, Logan, the Gold Coast and Adelaide North regions, to ensure pathways met the needs of local employers, young people and the community.
The BSL drew on the ‘Entry into Care Roles’ Skill Set, identified by the deputy chair of the NYEB Advisory Board Sara Caplan, to provide an entry level training component for young people on the pathway. The Skill Set was developed in consultation with industry by the Human Services Skills Organisation (HSSO) to rapidly upskill a ‘surge’ workforce to meet the increased needs of the aged care and disability support sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Skills Trial pathway has provided young people with holistic support to explore different roles and careers, build work readiness and industry exposure, skill development and work experience, which has enabled them to make an informed decision on further training or work in the sector. Even if the sector is not for them, young people have shown they are ready to take the skills, confidence and experience developed though the pathway on to other opportunities.
Critically the trial has also involved employers in the co-design and all steps of the pathway (information sessions, recruitment, training), encouraging local organisations to adapt their practice and thinking on the skills and innovations required to engage a young workforce into entry-level roles.
Through consistent presentation of evaluation findings and real-time learnings to the NYEB national governance groups, the BSL was able to draw on the national expertise of these members to address challenges and structural barriers as the trial progressed. Critical members include the CEO of the HSSO, the Skills Branch of the Department of Employment Skills and Training, CEO of TAFE Directors Australia and Sam Mostyn, President, Chief Executor for Women.
Collaborative and intentional action linking the local and national has seen sites successfully navigate jurisdictional differences to enable training providers to deliver the skill set; access existing funding to enable a coherent pathway; shift the mindsets of employers and their recruitment models; and motivate young people to consider the variety of roles and suitability for the sector.
Community Investment Committees are building on learnings to develop and strengthen the skills pathway for the care sector, and adapt the model to other local growth sectors such as construction and agriculture. The HSSO’s evaluation of the trial will also increase understanding of the utility of the skill set, and together with local learnings inform the development of further skill sets and qualifications, and VET reforms more broadly at the national level.