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Social services important contributor to health

Joint Media Release
12 November 2007

Social services an important contributor to health workforce of the future


The importance of the recently launched Health Workforce Career Framework has been acknowledged by two key stakeholders in the social services sector.

Both the New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) and Te Kaiâwhina Ahumahi, the Social Services Industry Training Organisation, share the concern held by the Ministry of Health and District Health Boards that proactive planning is needed to cope with likely shortages in the health and disability workforce, including social workers.

"Effective recruitment and retention in the workforce has been a priority for some time now," says Rose Henderson, President of ANZASW. "As identified the pressure on sustaining the number and quality of workers will keep increasing over the next two decades, when New Zealand's population will change quite radically and as health needs become more complex."

"The ANZASW commends the way that this Framework points to a future where many health careers may not necessarily follow a traditional linear progression. That is already a reality for many social workers who work flexibly to meet changing health needs," says Rose Henderson.

"Our one concern is that the developers of the Framework need to consult more widely as they move to implement the Framework, and we fully expect that as a key stakeholder we will be included in the development of the action plan before June 2008".

"As stated in the Framework report it is extremely important that this Framework gains the trust of the sector as an objective tool that accurately describes similarities and differences between occupational roles," says Dr Rory Truell, Sector Co-Executive Director of Te Kaiâwhina Ahumahi.

"Having a Careers Framework is a good example of 'future thinking' in action," says Rory. "It is especially encouraging to see the strong link it makes to education and learning, and to see the recognition it gives to the relationship between experience, current competence and prior learning. Overall this is also an important concept for industry training organisations such as Te Kaiâwhina Ahumahi as we line up our future skill needs training with the Government's Tertiary Education Strategy."

Both the New Zealand Association of Social Workers (ANZASW) and Te Kaiâwhina Ahumahi, the Social Services Industry Training Organisation, will be monitoring the detailed development and piloting of the Framework to ensure that it is inclusive of all occupations in the health and disability sector, and that it takes due account of the labour market need for people in social services and social work.


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