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Lack of career prospects driving community and disability workers away

16 November 2021 at 8:18 am
Maggie Coggan
Nearly one in six community service workers are planning to move away from the sector 

Maggie Coggan | 16 November 2021 at 8:18 am


Lack of career prospects driving community and disability workers away
16 November 2021 at 8:18 am

Nearly one in six community service workers are planning to move away from the sector 

Despite disability and care sector workers being proud of the work they do, many report wanting to leave the sector because of a lack of career development opportunities, new research finds. 

Released on Tuesday by community services superannuation group, HESTA, the research found that around one in six community service professionals were planning to move into other sectors in the next two years.

For younger workers, this number was even higher, with almost a third of people aged between 18 and 39 planning to exit the industry.

The report found that this was predominantly because of poor leadership, inadequate pay, a lack of career opportunities such as promotions or learning new skills, and significant periods of unpaid work and travel time. 

The research is based on the survey results of around 1,000 HESTA community services members, including nearly 200 disability services professionals.

Workers like their jobs, but not the people in charge

Even though community sector workers had the most workforce pride compared to other health and aged care industries, almost 30 per cent of respondents would not recommend their employer or a career in the industry. 

This was particularly true for disability service workers, who despite being the most proud of their job, were among the least likely to recommend their managers and bosses as good people to work for.

“Nearly a third of disability services professionals also would not recommend their leader or manager,” the report said. 

The CEO of HESTA, Debby Blakey, told Pro Bono News that the risk of losing skilled staff could put further strain on the 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.”

An opportunity to improve 

The report did note that there was improvement in employees’ attitudes, the sectors and leaders after the outbreak of COVID-19 compared to when the same survey was conducted in 2019, providing potential opportunities for employers and government. 

The improvement was attributed to how appreciated and valued community sector workers felt by their employers and the broader community amid the pandemic. 

Blakey said that this finding presented an opportunity to commit resources to workforce building strategies. 

“Pay and working conditions are long-term structural issues that require input from government,” she said.  

“However, our research indicates strategies such as focusing on improving leadership capabilities and providing employees with more variety of work could be effective in the short-term at improving job satisfaction and improving workforce retention.”

This is the third and final report in the 2021 State of the Sector health and community sectors workforce insights series, following the release of HESTA’s aged care and early childhood education workforce reports earlier this year.

Read a full copy of the report here. 

Maggie Coggan  |  Journalist  |  @MaggieCoggan

Maggie Coggan is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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