Training Essential to NDIS Success Says Training Awards Winner
12 September 2016 at 10:23 am
A well-trained workforce is essential to the success of the NDIS, according to Not for Profit House with No Steps, which has won the NSW Training Award for the 2016 Large Employer of the Year.
The organisation, one of Australia’s largest disability organisations currently employing more than 2,500 staff supporting people with a disability or who work in their Australian Disability Enterprises, has a strong focus on training.
House with No Steps managing director and CEO Andrew Richardson told Pro Bono Australia News they were honoured to receive the award, which was announced by John Barilaro MP at a gala event in Darling Harbour on Thursday.
“It’s nice to get a little bit proud sometimes and we have some great people, right across the organisation,” Richardson said.
“This is great recognition for our education and training team and the hard work they’ve put in and… we’re also lucky to have partners who bring in the right types of skills as well.
“This is an exciting time for people with a disability. The National Disability Insurance Scheme changes everything for them, and for House with No Steps.
“We’re a people organisation so ultimately we need the right people with the right skills in the right place. That’s why our commitment to training is so important.”
Richardson said their registered training organisation (RTO) was full of “really passionate and skilled people”.
“We’re a for-purpose organisation and we’re all about helping people with disability live a great life and to do that you need staff who have what it takes,” Richardson said.
“Whilst a lot of that is about personality and passion it is also very much about having the skills to do the job well and to work with people to create great outcomes.
“For us what we’ve found is that investing in training our staff well, really creates strong returns for our customers, also for the staff obviously in terms of their careers but also for the organisation because we just perform better when we have well trained staff.”
Richardson said a well-trained workforce was also essential to the success of the NDIS.
He said it was an “exciting time” for disability but the sector was facing challenges as the roll out of the NDIS across NSW creates an employment boom, with approximately 25,000 jobs in the sector.
“I think there are some macro issues that government and the National Disability Insurance Agency need to sort out, they are the sort of necessary conditions to grow a skilled workforce and then there are a whole lot of just practical things that organisations like us need to do to attract and motivate and develop and retain people,” he said.
“On the former, unfortunately some of the design of the NDIS around workforce at the moment is driving lowest common denominator and casualised and sub-contracted staffing models, we think that’s really short sighted and unwise.
“At a time when you are seeking to add potentially up to 100,000 more people to the workforce a strategy that drives piece rate employment and casualisation and subcontract labour models, we think is really dumb.
“We want to see a well trained workforce that is all about working with people with disability to create great outcomes rather than dumbing down the labour force so you get the cheapest possible labour irrespective of their skills.”
Richardson said they were “passionate supporters of the NDIS” but wanted to see it “implemented well”.
“We were one of the big champions and backers of the Every Australian Counts campaign for example, we are really determined to see the NDIS implemented well and we think that there is important fine tuning that needs to be done around workforce, around some of the pricing and around some of the market design that is sort of driving a one size fits all approach,” he said.
“In terms of what organisations like us need to do, we are bucking the trend. We are increasing our investment in our permanent workforce because we believe that for us to have quality impact in people’s lives we need to have employees who are with us for the long run and in whom we can invest in skills development and so we’re increasing the proportion of our workforce who are permanent and then we are investing to train them well.
“You’ve got to be smart in how you recruit, you need to be competitive in how you reward and recognise people, and in our view you need to be willing to invest to develop skills.
“We want to be seen as a really attractive employer who are passionate about our mission and about the human rights of people with disability, but who translate that into really strong passion for our workforce and a strong investment in the capabilities of our workforce.”
Over the past year their RTO has delivered increased staff training which included accredited training, leadership development and customer service training to ensure House with No Steps employees have well-developed skills. The Workplace English Language Literacy (WELL) program was also completed by 378 of their support staff, and has improved their oral and written communication skills.
Richardson said the organisation had done some “pretty special” things around developing innovative training for people with significant intellectual impairment.
“We employ over 500 people with significant disability in a range of businesses and often what you find is, there’s this really sad view in society sometimes that if someone’s got a disability they can’t do much and we find the exact opposite is true and if you invest in really well targeted training for people with disability you can get great outcomes,” he said.
“A couple of things we’re really proud of over the past 12 to 18 months would be, we’ve trained nearly 400 of our employees with significant disability to certificate level or statement of attainment level in lean manufacturing, which has really made a difference to our businesses and also in a whole lot of training and support in WELL training, and again whilst we’ve also been providing similar training to some of our employees without disability. It’s been great to see the take up and the impact that training has had in our workforce of people with disability.
“Our investment in training is really producing tangible results. We’re seeing productivity improvements, a lift in staff engagement, and most importantly a greater willingness of staff to embrace and welcome change, and that’s a great place to be as we head into the full roll out of the NDIS.”
Richardson said he was very positive about the future.
“The NDIS is a fantastic social reform, it’s all about people with disability getting a far better deal than they’ve ever got before, it’s about as many as twice the number of people getting funds for disability support,” he said.
“For the first time ever, a person with a disability who’s eligible for support will have a legal right for that support, and that’s huge, it’s also great that it’s a much more consumer driven model where people with disability can exercise far more choice and control over their lives and so all of that comes together to say yeah, we’re excited about much better deals for people with disability, it creates challenges for organisations like us but it creates huge opportunities for us too, to have more impact in the lives of more people.”
House with No Steps will go on to represent NSW at the Australian Training Awards on 17 November 2016 in Darwin.