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JobTrainer may have potential to boost disability workforce

The JobTrainer program aims to assist school leavers and job seekers with learning new skills in target areas identified by the National Skills Commission. It is anticipated that it will include health, social assistance and by extension, disability support. Prime Minister (PM) Scott Morrison said in the announcement that the JobTrainer package was focused on getting people into jobs.

JobTrainer will ensure more Australians have the chance to reskill or upskill to fill the jobs on the other side of this crisis.

“COVID-19 is unprecedented, but I want Australians to be ready for the sorts of jobs that will come as we build back and recover," says PM Morrison.

“The jobs and skills we’ll need as we come out of the crisis are not likely to be the same as those that were lost.”

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of NDS, David Moody, says that the JobTrainer program has the potential to impact the disability workforce significantly. 

“[The] announcement is significant, not least because JobTrainer could contribute to placing well-qualified disability workers into the 90,000 additional disability positions that need filling over the next five years.

“The NDIS should be fully rolled out across Australia by the end of 2021, but in some areas of Australia, disability support providers are challenged to fill all of their available shifts.

“The low or no-cost training to be available under JobTrainer will be an added incentive for school leavers, or those needing to transition into a different sector, to consider the enormously rewarding role of a disability support worker, and join what was, before the pandemic, the fastest growing sector in the Australian economy.

“With the continuing growth of the disability sector and job opportunities anticipated to accelerate after the pandemic period, I’d encourage anyone keen to make a difference in the lives of their fellow Australians to consider disability support work, regardless of where they live in the country.”

Health Services Union (HSU) National Campaigns & Projects Officer, Mark Farthing, says that the potential is there to boost the workforce, but more information about the focus of the program is needed. 

“The HSU would be supportive of the Certificate III in Individual Support and the Certificate IV in Disability being qualifications covered under the program and believe this would assist in boosting the availability of skilled disability workers. 

“We also hope the funding will better support the use of traineeships in the disability sector.

“Traineeships have a very low uptake in disability services which is largely due to the fact that NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme) pricing and funding rules make it unviable for service providers to offer traineeships; this could be addressed if the JobTrainer package covers traineeship wages.“

Mr Farthing also raised concerns about the potential deskilling of workforces because of the JobTrainer program. 

“The HSU notes that the JobTrainer program refers to funding for qualifications and skillsets. 

“We would be concerned if funding for skill sets were prioritised over full qualifications as this would ultimately lead to a deskilling of the workforce. 

“Skillsets have their place to upskill workers in areas where they already have a base level of knowledge but should not be used as a replacement for full qualifications.”

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