By Stephen Easton
Aged care has been identified as one of two priority industries to receive the lion’s share of subsidised training for the first year of a new program – but time is of the essence with applications closing on 16 September.
The National Workplace Development Fund (NWDF) will provide $558 million over the next four years, with aged care and construction selected as the two biggest priorities for its first year of operation and unlike other industry-specific training grants, the funding can pay for courses in a wide range of disciplines to support aged care providers’ operations.
Of $73 million allocated to the first annual round, $50 million will be shared between aged care and construction and brokered, in the case of aged care, through the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC).
CS&HISC chief executive officer, Rod Cooke, said that the new funding scheme would “help enterprises identify their workforce development needs and apply for funding of qualifications and skill sets that can address those needs”.
“The NWDF offers the aged care sector an opportunity to train existing and new workers in formal qualifications to address existing workforce shortages,” Mr Cooke said. “It also provides flexibility so organisations can identify support services such as mentoring that will enhance learning programs and delivery of formal training.
“As a broker, CS&HISC is working with the sector to identify elements of good practice in workforce development and training delivery to help organisations partner with a registered training organisation that will meet their specific requirements. It is important that the training delivered is of the highest quality.”
According to Mr Cooke, organisations can look at a wide range of skill sets and qualifications, not just those specifically required at the coalface in aged care.
“For example, organisations in the aged care sector may apply for training places in management development, training and assessment, allied health and other health services to support their work in aged care.”
The CS&HISC is also the aged care industry’s broker for funding through the Enterprise Based Productivity Places Program (EBPPP), launched last year, and has confirmed it will continue to support and monitor recipients of this funding until the program ends in 2014.
But unlike the EBPPP, the new National Workplace Development Fund will also support Employment Services Providers, which Mr Cooke said would “assist organisations in recruiting much needed new entrants into their workforce”.
Both aged care employers and the peak bodies that represent them can apply for the subsidies, which will be allocated using a co-contribution model, with larger organisations asked to pay a greater share than their small and medium-sized counterparts.
The NWDF will cover about two-thirds of the cost of training for small businesses with less than 100 employees, half for medium-sized enterprises with 100-199 employees and about one-third for those with 200 employees or more.
According to Senator Christopher Evans, the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Jobs and Workplace Relations, the new initiative “recognises that training skilled workers for our economy is a shared responsibility between Government and industry”.
“Both of these sectors are at risk of experiencing skills shortages in the near future and are critical to our economy,” Mr Evans said.
For more information on applying for the new funding and to download an application form, visit the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council website. Applications are due in one month on 16 September.