"Now is not the time to discourage training"

15 December 2014

The Industry Training Federation calls for Government to better support training for care and community support workers.

The Industry Training Federation (ITF), which represents all of New Zealand’s 12 industry training organisations (ITOs), has joined the pleas of other groups and organisations within the aged care and community health sectors, for Government to strengthen its stance on employment conditions for support and care workers.

ITF chief executive Mark Oldershaw has appealed to the Government for changes in funding and direction to create a more cohesive, efficient industry-led training sector. He has raised concerns over recent Government proposals to drop back support for foundation education and refocus ITOs on higher levels of learning.

“We have made it clear to government that reduced support for entry level qualifications will come at the crucial cost of skilled workers. Now is not the time to discourage training, particularly in sectors such as health and disability.”

Approximately 12,000 support and care workers are undertaking workforce training each year. Careerforce, the health and community support ITO, has been working with Health Workforce New Zealand to develop a health and disability workforce action plan.

Approximately 85 per cent of trainees in the home support, care workforces are completing level 2 or level 3 National Certificates. These qualifications allow workers to gain skills, knowledge, competence and confidence, often to progress their learning.

It is predicted New Zealand is likely to face a shortfall in health and disability support workers, owing to its rapidly ageing population.

There is also increasing emphasis on the need for quality home and community support. Treasury’s Briefing to the Incoming Minister (BIM) for the Minister of Health stated that an appropriately trained support workforce enables people to be cared for in their homes, which frees up hospital beds and benefits for our health system and economy.

“We are urging the government and industry to work with us to beat the skills gap. We need a more efficient, industry-led training sector, which matches provision to current and future need,” says Oldershaw.

The ITF’s concerns come at a time when aged care workers are battling for fair pay through a landmark pay equity case currently before the courts. Many in the sector, including Ryman Healthcare’s managing director Simon Challies, believe care workers’ pay should be linked with training.

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