Social economy jobs boom

The Future Social Service Institute (FSSI) is providing training, research and services to help train Australia’s workforce of the future.

1.5 million jobs – nearly 13 per cent of all jobs – are in the healthcare and social service sector, with this figure set to grow a further 19 per cent, to one in four new jobs by 2022.

The National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) rollout, a rapidly ageing population and an increased response to family violence are key drivers.

Without better training, pay and conditions, it is believed that Australia will struggle to fill the growing number jobs and will fail to provide workers with the appropriate level of training to meet growing societal needs.

Future Social Service Institute (FSSI) Director Professor David Hayward said the Institute emerged from a realisation that Australia was facing a significant workforce gap and the need to build and improve social service as a workforce of the future was vital.

“The massive role social services are projected to play just wasn’t being picked up and supported. Social service workers play a crucial role, and a rapidly growing role,” he said.

“FSSI is here to make sure it is recognised, and to support that growth in a way that produces the best, most highly-skilled workers and services possible.”

FSSI is a collaboration between the Victorian Council of Social Service (VCOSS) and brings together RMIT researchers, teachers, students, social service workers with the people who use their services, to co-design a quality curriculum, deliver leading courses and conduct inclusive research.

By bridging the academic, Vocational Education and social service sectors, FSSI is ensuring that research, training and services meet real needs, and is contributing to greater recognition, respect and reward for social services work.

RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean CBE presenting at FSSI Executive Masterclass 2018.

RMIT’s Certificate III in Individual Support and Certificate IV Disability have given students the benefit of worker, service users and academic expertise, with graduates describing the experience as life-changing and inspiring.

Graduate Tianne Kaleda said she had been uncertain of her career path, until studying the Certificate III.

“I just fell in love with it. I thought with this I’d want to go into nursing, but after finishing this course and doing the work experience I’ve actually decided I want to specialise in the area more,” she said.

FSSI’s Fellows and PhD students research the experiences of people using the NDIS from mental health, episodic illness and carer perspectives.

PhD scholar Elizabeth Hudson said she was “extremely grateful” to be part of FSSI’s research program.

“The partnership between VCOSS and RMIT supports my research endeavours to boost community sector viability and drive reform by influencing policy decisions, and ultimately advancing the position of Victorians who may be social excluded,” Hudson said.

Along with research seminars and events, FSSI also holds an Executive Masterclass which brings together social service leaders with academic leaders, including RMIT Vice-Chancellor and President Martin Bean. Together they co-design content that meets participants’ needs.

Hayward said the work that FSSI undertook was exciting and reflected on how fortunate he was to be part of such a fabulous and leading team.

“We have Vocational Education teachers, world class researchers, PhD students and sector experts all in the same open-plan room.”

Story: Kellee Nolan

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