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Healthcare workers proud but would leave sector if no opportunities are given

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Professionals providing vital care and support to those living with disabilities and disadvantages were proud to work in their sector but are likely to leave unless there are more opportunities to progress and develop new skills, according to new HESTA research.

Released today, the State of the Sector 2021: Community and Disability Workforce Insights report found around one in six community services professionals surveyed were planning to leave the sector in the next two years. Almost a third of young professionals aged between 18 and 39 said they were planning to exit in the short term.

HESTA CEO Debby Blakey said the risk of losing skilled staff could jeopardise the ability of the already strained health and community services workforce to meet expected future demand.

“Community and disability services professionals have been at the coalface of the pandemic, providing care and support in a time of extreme uncertainty and instability,” Blakey said.

“What’s most concerning is that younger professionals are most likely to plan on leaving, risking a deepening gap in skills and experience unless career and training opportunities are improved.”

The research showed the community services workforce had the highest job pride and satisfaction in 2020 compared to other health and community services sectors surveyed. They also were most likely to recommend a career in their sector.

Nevertheless, there were significant workforce-building challenges with almost 30% of community services respondents not recommending their employer, leader or a career in the industry.

While disability service workers were the most likely to recommend a career in community services and were strong advocates of their employer, they were among the least likely to recommend their leaders. Pointing to the need to build leadership capability across the sector, nearly a third of disability services professionals also would not recommend their leader or manager.

But encouragingly, the research revealed the community services workforce showed strong improvements in positive sentiment towards employers, the sectors and leaders after the outbreak of COVID-19 compared to 2019, providing potential opportunities for employers and government.

“There is positive news and a good foundation to build on in terms of the sector’s workforce strategies,” Blakey said.

“Strengthening career pathways, providing more training opportunities and leadership development can help retain experienced professionals and attract the people we’ll need to meet expected future demand.”

The research also shone a light on high levels of financial insecurity of employees in the sector.

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