5X Workforce Development
Don’t leave the workforce behind: Lifelong learning for the future of family services
Current directions in national and many state models of family and community services point to the changing landscape of health and social care delivery which will have profound implications for the education, training and daily work of professionals working in these services. There are challenges in meeting industry needs for workers with skills to work collaboratively across disciplinary, professional and service and system silos to address the major health, social and relationship issues facing families and communities. There is also demand for workers to use data to plan, implement and evaluate the outcomes for families, services and at the population level and to implement and evaluate evidence-informed programs and practices. These features of the 2020’s work climate signal the need for attention to workforce capacities.
As well, the nature of training and education in the TAFE and University sectors is being transformed, driven by demands for workplace readiness and continuous learning (Ernest Young report, 2018). There is a need for dramatic reform in current educational offerings to those entering or continuing careers working with families and communities to ensure life-long learning for the ever-changing skills, values and competencies required in working across services with families. Multiple educational, professional and career pathways for workers in these fields are essential.
This presentation outlines some perspectives on the future of work in the social sector, and discusses how these challenges can be overcome for professionals. As a case study, it takes the context, methods, and intentions of the discipline of Family Studies at the University of Newcastle. It analyses data and documents from 2010–2018 industry consultations, development and implementation of a suite of education offerings in Family Studies, from Associate Degrees to Research Higher degree research.
The presenters illustrate how consultation and co-design processes can bridge academic, practice and lived experience expertise, to ensure that no sector of the workforce is left behind, without a viable career trajectory, when policy decisions mean that services and workplace practices change. We discuss student educational and career trajectories in terms of their potential to empower family and community service organisations to re-orient to the changing strengths and needs of diverse people accessing services in different ways, including digitally. The presentation outlines the potential for creating a diverse professional health and social care graduate workforce that is collaborative and integrated, digitally sophisticated and critically attuned to client and sector needs.
Dr Deborah Hartman and Dr Jennifer St. George have been instrumental in developing and delivering innovative educational programs for family and community workers. They focus on how educational programs can be ‘high-tech and high-touch’, relevant to industry needs and paced to enable participants to balance work, family and study obligations.