This project scoped and progressed the development of a curated, cross-sector online portal that will support the community services workforces to access quality, relevant and accessible learning and development initiatives.
The disability, ageing and mental health service systems are becoming more competitive and market-driven with the roll-out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and reforms in aged care and mental health. Peak bodies across disability, ageing and mental health are developing training and resources to support their sectors through the transformational change associated with the reforms. However, training and resources are often developed in siloed ways for individual sectors or subsections of those sectors, when they are relevant and useful to other sectors and could promote the sectors’ professionalisation more broadly. The community services industry is also growing rapidly and there is a significant need to highlight career pathways into and through the industry.
What were the project objectives?
The project sought to:
- investigate the establishment of a central, cross-sector clearinghouse or hub for training and development
- build on existing mechanisms for promoting learning and development and amplify the availability of high quality training and development in order to support the sectors to respond effectively to the reforms.
What did the project involve?
Carers Victoria and Victorian Council of Social Service led the project. Mental Health Victoria and the Future Social Services Institute contributed to its development. The project commenced in 2016 and concluded in 2018.
The project initially involved a feasibility study on the establishment of a cross-sector clearinghouse-style dissemination point that would allow organisations to advertise training and resources and host collaborative and peer-based learning activities. The study included a literature review on approaches to build the capacity of not-for-profit and/or human services sector workforces undergoing transformational change. Consultations also occurred with more than 200 service provider executives, managers, frontline staff and carers via interviews, surveys and focus groups.
Based on the outcomes of this study, the project developed a business case for a curated, multi-attribute online portal that provides information on quality learning and development activities across sectors (‘the Hub’). Seed funding was then secured to test and confirm the project logic and to develop the Hub’s technical specifications, partnership arrangements and marketing plan as part of a critical path to establishing and implementing the Hub.
What did we learn?
The first stage of the project identified financial, technical, literacy, time and resourcing constraints as key barriers for the sectors in accessing learning and development. It found that effective ways to overcome these barriers included ensuring cost-effectiveness, recognising the workforces’ time restrictions, offering training in soft skills (such as leadership and problem solving) and making clear links between the learning and development activity and learners’ professional roles. Opportunity for learners to provide feedback on learning and development initiatives was also important. The project identified a need for easy tools that help the workforces to identify relevant learning and development activities and a need for processes that check the quality of these offerings.
There was strong support for a Cross-sector Learning Hub that aggregates learning and development opportunities from multiple providers in one place, acting as a one-stop shop across the sectors. The project found that a curated, multi-attribute online portal will:
- assist learners to identify and compare relevant training and development opportunities that meet their needs, assess the quality of those opportunities and access resources flexibly;
- support organisations to promote initiatives across the sectors; and
- assist providers to identify training gaps and develop new offerings.
The project identified two key user groups for the Hub: learners (including students, professionals currently working in community services and those who wish to transition to the sector, HR / team managers and carers) and providers (including organisations operating in the sector and education providers). The Hub’s key functions and features were developed to respond to the key needs and challenges of each user group, including the capacity to search for learning and development offerings using a range of search terms and to read peer reviews.
A formal partnership agreement was developed for delivery of the Hub, with the Ageing, Disability and Mental Health Collaborative Panel acting as the overarching governance vehicle. As at October 2019, the Panel’s funding application to establish the Hub is pending.