CareCareers has had a satisfying response to its expression of interest in a shared labour pool. Over 40 organisations, the majority from the disability sector, replied to the idea for employers to utilise other members’ employees to cover shifts. Utilising a shared labour pool could save on agency hire fees, help retain high-quality part-time and casual staff, increase flexibility and reduce staff churn and recruitment costs.

It marks a first for CareCareers with national manager, Mike Field acknowledging that the history for shared employee pools has been fraught. All manner of logistics and legalities including tax workers’ compensation public liability and more, need to be taken into account. In the past shared labour pools have fallen over because of poaching of staff, Field told F2L. “At this stage it’s only a discussion but, given the level of interest, there is hope that it will bear fruit.

“Initially our job platform was set up to promote a wide range of roles in the disability and aged care sectors. However, the incidence of workers moving between the two sectors remains low even though the new Certificate III in Individualised Support has been designed to encourage a greater degree of flexibility.

“With National Disability Services (NDS) projecting the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) workforce is set to double by 2020, demand for staff will climb.” Field said this is a daunting total for a sector that has already grown significantly over the past few years and in terms of shortages there are areas in the country where the employment market is tight.

“We have not reached crisis point yet but when we talk to our employers the number of people applying is sufficient but the quality is not always as good as it was a couple of years ago.”

He said training is part of the answer to this, although deregulation of the training sector over the past few years has had mixed results. “Some of our employers still insist on a Certificate III or IV, but it is not always the silver bullet. What used to be common practice is no longer the case and employers are more flexible. Jobseekers without qualifications, who are proactive, can be encouraged towards qualifications. It is fair to say it is early days for the NDIS transition and it is not an easy process so can be challenging for any organisation.

“The evolution of the sector will require any number of creative solutions and we hope that the shared pool might have a place somewhere in the mix.

“What is interesting about the NDIS is the greater degree of personalisation by putting choice and control in the hands of participants and they can decide what elements of support they want and more often than not a qualification is not their first priority.”

Field said the next step for the shared labour pool is a lengthy period of consultation out of which it is hoped a structure will take shape.