Chairperson’s Report for the 2023 Annual General Meeting of the Community Services, Health, & Education Industry Training Council operating as Community Skills WA (CSWA)

The Chairman’s report is provided in accordance with the requirements of the Community Services, Health, & Education Industry Training Council constitution (operating as Community Skills WA (CSWA)) and its Service Agreement with the Department of Training and Workforce Development (DTWD). The report provides an outline of CSWA’s strategic progress, issues, and activities during 2022/2023.

Community Skills WA represents the Community Services, Health and Education sectors across Western Australia and engages with stakeholders to ensure industry and learner needs are identified and considered. CSWA has continued its advocacy work over the last 12 months to ensure strategies and training products are best positioned to develop the current and future workforce at a local level and support learner success.

In 2022-2023, the Community Services, Health and Education sectors continued to experience growth, with employment in the Health Care and Social Assistance sectors alone increasing to 203,900 in April 2023. This represents 13.9% of the WA workforce, which when combined with Education and Training increases to over 21%. Furthermore, the recently released Commonwealth White Paper identified that “the ageing population and demand for care services are two of five major forces that will shape the Australian economy of the coming decades.”

Compounded by an increasingly tight labour market, housing shortages and cost of living pressures, attracting and retaining a workforce across all these sectors has become increasingly challenging. This has however created opportunities to focus on place-based solutions which are increasingly reliant on VET pathways and create valuable employment opportunities within communities. Following the development of these pathways and connecting of dots by the CSWA teams, examples of the development of a local sustainable workforce are starting to emerge. The opportunity to continue and expand this work will come via support for the Community Care Development Model, with these recent examples providing evidence of the potential gains for both the sectors and community.

In addition to regional engagement, CSWA has continued to advocate at both State and Commonwealth levels, to ensure training products align with industry requirements and system capacity issues are identified and delivery and implementation challenges addressed to improve accessibility. The recent establishment of HumanAbility is hoped to provide an opportunity to ensure that future training products accommodate the often-unique needs of the WA sector workforce and student demographics.

While the year has presented challenges, including the update of a large number of training products, VET capacity issues limiting access to training and significant changes across the VET system, there are also considerable examples of success. These examples have further enabled CSWA to build its reputation as a valued source of advice and support around training and workforce development across all the sectors it represents.

While CSWA concluded work on the Regional Early Childhood report for the State Training Board in 2021. the release of the McGowan Government’s Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) Regional Workforce Action Plan in May 2023 once again highlighted the value of the advice provided by CSWA. On the back of this report the successful facilitation of the recent Early Childhood Roundtable demonstrated CSWA’s ability to engage with all key stakeholders and provide the opportunity for a collaborative approach to identifying opportunities for change.

The significant expansion of the Certificate II Community Health and Wellbeing pre-traineeship across the state has continued to create opportunities for school students to explore career opportunities equitably and in a way that supports success. The qualification also continues to gain recognition as a pathway and mechanism to build the future workforce across the social assistance and allied health sectors.

The Integrating Mental Health Practice skill set established in early 2022 also continues to increase sector capacity and most recently the Community Support skill set has proved its value in not only underpinning the Ageing and Disability Job Ready program, but also providing a critical entry pathway in regional and remote communities.

During the year, CSWA worked closely with Shelter WA, North Metro TAFE, Community Housing Providers, and the Department of Communities to present an application to the State Training Board supporting the establishment of the Cert IV in Housing qualification as a

traineeship. This was achieved in September and importantly as a result of significant advocacy by CSWA the qualification delivery commenced, which will build the capacity of the community housing sector workforce.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the CSWA Board who continue to promote and support the work of the Training Council, as well as provide expert advice and advocacy when required.

I offer this report for the Council’s acceptance.

Neil Guard
November 2023

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