USC research finds insights into disability workforce - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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USC research finds insights into disability workforce

3 Aug 2021

There is strong demand for locally trained support workers, managers and allied health professionals to help boost Queensland’s disability workforce, according to studies led by USC Pro-Vice Chancellor (Students) Professor Denise Wood AM.

The studies were part of a three-year research project to investigate the impact of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) on workforce patterns, and their findings have informed several key recommendations in the ‘Strengthening Queensland’s NDIS Workforce’ report launched recently by WorkAbility Qld and funding partner Jobs Queensland.

WorkAbility Qld has partnered with USC for the second phase of the research project, which began earlier this year with a set of regional forums and research case studies across NDIS rollout sites in Brisbane, Ipswich, Toowoomba, Townsville and Mackay.

Professor Wood said about 300 employers, employees, sole traders and self-managed participants had shared their experiences since the NDIS was introduced in 2016.

“We found significant demand for suitably skilled and qualified support workers and allied health professionals to support daily living, transport, support for social and community participation, and help in getting and keeping a job,” she said.

The report said there was a strong need for additional workers to enter the disability sector, with NDIS-related careers projected to grow by a further 18.8 percent over five years, more than doubling the workforce.

“At the time the data was gathered, there were 55,000 registered NDIS participants, with the largest categories those with autism (30 percent) and intellectual disability (24 percent),” she said.

Professor Wood said the research findings had informed several recommendations and initiatives to best meet jobs growth and skills needs for the NDIS.

They included an Allied Health Assistants Good Practice Guide developed in consultation with industry and more effective use of allied health assistants to service NDIS clients.

Community Services Industry Alliance CEO Belinda Drew, commenting on behalf of the WorkAbility Consortium, said the report provided a strategic approach to workforce development that would benefit Queensland’s economic recovery.
 
“This research project highlights the significant jobs growth as a result of the NDIS; for example 28,000 new Yellow Card holders have entered the NDIS workforce,” she said.
 
“Findings also highlight labour shortages, and the potential that the NDIS represents for thousands of jobs across the state, particularly following the pandemic.”

Professor Wood said USC would continue disability sector research and activities throughout 2021-2022 as part of the second phase of NDIS Workforce Research Project.

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