Position Paper. Minimum ATOD Qualifications and Skills for The Alcohol, Tobacco & other Drugs Sector

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1 Position Paper Minimum ATOD Qualifications and Skills for The Alcohol, Tobacco & other Drugs Sector September 2013

2 Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council Tas Inc. (ATDC) Phone: Fax: Level 1/175 Collins Street, Hobart. PO Box 4702, Bathurst Street Post Office, Hobart TAS Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council Tas Inc. 2013, Hobart, Tasmania. ATDC is funded by the Tasmanian Department of Health and Human Services

3 Executive Summary This paper discusses the imperative, arising from policy and trends at both a state and national level, for the Community ATOD sector to identify minimum qualifications and ATOD skills required for ATOD specialist workers to effectively perform their roles and to enhance the professionalism of the sector. The Community ATOD sector in Tasmania is already very well qualified by community sector standards, and is moving towards the acquisition of ATOD specific skills and qualifications, a situation that has been enhanced by the ATDC facilitation of access to funding for workers to undertake ATOD specific training and assessment. The minimum qualifications and ATOD skills position is based on a number of principles, including the specification that the requirement for minimum qualifications and ATOD skills does not necessarily set prerequisites for employment, but rather, pathways for professional development once the worker commences employment. It clarifies that professional learning may be acquired via a number of different methods, as are best suited to the learning needs of the individual and the organisation. Existing workers will not be disadvantaged in their current position if they choose not to upgrade their formal qualifications, and the lived experience is recognised as contributing knowledge and skills to the role of peer worker. The minimum qualifications and ATOD skills position recommends ongoing professional development pathways as best practice. A number of pathways to acquisition of relevant qualifications are identified. This paper does not specify the ATOD skills required, but raises the need to commence a process of identifying them, as well as ensuring quality training and assessment processes for delivery. A number of other implementation issues are raised, including support for workers undertaking study, inclusion of ATOD skills in all levels of education, and the potential for more clarity around ATOD specific job roles. Recommendations for implementation of the minimum qualifications and ATOD skills position are made. Page 1

4 The Position The Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Council, Tasmania identifies that:- Workers in different roles require different levels of qualification and ATOD skills to enable them to optimally perform their roles; Suitable qualification levels range from Certificate IV to graduate, depending on the role; Either o o an ATOD specific qualification; or a relevant generic qualification plus an ATOD skill set are appropriate qualification pathways for roles in the sector; For many roles, the relevant qualification or ATOD skill set, while not a prerequisite for employment, should be gained once employment commences; A person in the role of peer worker is exempt from the above requirements; An ongoing professional development pathway is recommended, to allow workers to o Continue to develop ATOD skills and knowledge; o Acquire additional relevant qualifications; and o Enhance career pathways. Page 2

5 Introduction The purpose of this paper is to set out the position of the Alcohol, Tobacco and other Drugs Council Tas Inc. (ATDC) on minimum alcohol, tobacco and other drug (ATOD) skills and qualifications for workers in community sector organisations which are delivering services to people presenting with alcohol and other drug problems. During 2012, the ATDC circulated and sought feedback on a discussion paper 1 on the topic of minimum qualifications. The compiled feedback and consequent recommendations were considered at length by the ATDC board, which agreed upon the organisation s position. This paper presents an overview of the minimum ATOD skills and qualifications position, identifies to whom the minimum ATOD skills and qualifications position applies and contains recommendations for how the minimum ATOD skills and qualifications position may be implemented. The aim of minimum ATOD skills and qualifications is to ensure the development and maintenance of a competent and professional alcohol, tobacco and other drugs workforce capable of providing best practice, evidence based services to some of our society s most vulnerable members. The community services industry is one of the fastest growing industries in Australia, and is expected to generate around 1 in 4 of all new jobs by There is indication that the demand for ATOD services is not only growing but that those presenting for assistance have increasingly complex needs 3. There are ongoing issues with attraction and retention of staff within the entire community sector, nationally as well as in Tasmania. There is an increasing focus on minimum qualifications for both the ATOD sector and the broader community sector in order to ensure worker skills to deliver evidence based, outcome focused services to clients with complex needs. A benefit of setting a minimum qualification or defining minimum ATOD skills for the sector would be its contribution towards professionalising the sector. The Tasmanian government has identified in the Future Service Directions 4 paper that a key focus for the state is the development of an overall workforce development strategy. One of the defined initiatives is to establish minimum entry qualifications and competencies for all workers entering the alcohol and drug services sector, 5 with a timeframe of 2010/ /13. Workforce development is a multi-faceted approach to the recruitment and retention of a skilled and professional workforce, in which the provision of individual skill development or training is just the tip of the iceberg. Underpinning the education and training that is necessary for the skilling of the workforce are the frameworks in which the worker operates: in the workplace this includes the policies and procedures that govern their work, the workplace culture and the team dynamics of their 1 Maher, L., 2012, ATDC Minimum Qualifications Strategy for the Community Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drugs Sector Discussion Paper 2 Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council Environmental Scan Maher, L., 2012 Industry Skills Plan Feedback, ATDC unpublished document 4 Department of Health and Human Services, Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Services Tasmania Future Service Directions: A five year plan 2008/ /13 5 Ibid, page 32 Page 3

6 workplace and the structure of the organisation that employs them. Outside the workplace the frameworks that impact upon them include the policy, legislative, industrial and political factors that affect their work and their working conditions as well as the career opportunities available to them. Minimum qualifications and ATOD skills for the sector is part of the workforce development framework that is external to individual organisations, team and individual, and which influences workforce development strategies that individual organisations develop and implement to ensure a skilled staff which can meet client needs. Defining minimum qualifications and ATOD skills for the sector not only formally identifies the sector s expectations, but potentially provides scope for mapping the alignment of sector roles and qualifications to better ensure a match between the expertise of the worker and their workplace role. Core competencies, which define the minimum ATOD skills required, have been identified in various jurisdictions interstate and overseas. To identify minimum qualifications and ATOD skills for Tasmania is the state s opportunity to define its expectation of its workers in the ATOD sector. Clearer definition of minimum qualifications and ATOD skills, as a sector-driven initiative, to which workers, supervisors and managers are committed, not only ensures a workforce with a greater base level of knowledge and skills, and thus strengthened service delivery, but also contributes to the opening of career pathways for more workers and enhanced morale and job satisfaction of staff, which can only contribute to improved retention of motivated workers. Page 4

7 Current Qualifications Data from the ATDC 2012 Workforce Survey identifies a somewhat more highly qualified workforce than was indicated in the 2010 ATDC Workforce Survey. In the 2010 survey, 70% of the Tasmanian ATOD sector workforce held qualifications at the level of Diploma or higher and 44.3% held qualifications at degree or higher level. The 2012 workforce survey data for highest qualifications is analysed by 3 worker categories: ATOD specialist workers, ie those working in ATOD specific facilities or programs, who do not have management or administrative responsibilities (n=74); Managers, both in ATOD and non-atod programs (n=44); Non-ATOD workers (n=52). Highest qualification level ATOD specialist workers Managers Non-ATOD workers certificate IV or higher 90% 97.7% 94.2% diploma or higher 86% 88.6% 76.9% degree or higher 56% 63.6% 44.2% The qualifications of ATOD specialist workers may be generalist and not necessarily have any ATOD content, although 86% of these specialist ATOD workers indicated their highest general qualification is relevant to their work. Of the ATOD specialist workers, 32.4% also identified that they hold an ATOD specific qualification at certificate IV or above and 18% identified that they are currently studying an ATOD specific course at Certificate IV or higher with a further 4.4% currently studying an ATOD skill set. Therefore, ATOD specialist workers are already progressing well towards ATOD specific qualifications, with an anticipated 50.4% achieving an ATOD specific qualification within 3 years of the survey. This compares reasonably with the Victorian ATOD workforce which, in November , identified 66.7% with formal ATOD qualifications at certificate IV or higher a little more than 3 years after the introduction of a minimum qualifications strategy for the Victorian ATOD workforce. 27.3% of managers identified that they hold an ATOD specific qualification at certificate IV or above and 9% identified that they are currently studying an ATOD specific course at Certificate IV or higher, with a further 4.5% currently studying an ATOD skill set or other addiction related studies. In addition, 3.8% of non ATOD-specialist workers identified that they hold an ATOD specific qualification at certificate IV or above and 1.9% identified that they are currently studying an ATOD specific course at Diploma level. 6 Department of Health, 2011, 2009 Victorian Alcohol and Other Drug Workforce Census Page 5

8 The Minimum Qualifications Model The minimum qualifications and ATOD skills model supported by the ATDC as the most appropriate for Tasmania is one of multiple entry points. It recognises that there is no one size fits all approach to qualifications and ATOD skills for roles within the sector. The model also respects the skills, knowledge and competencies of existing staff who may or may not choose to progress down professional development paths to achieve a relevant level of formal qualifications. General principles a. Minimum Qualifications and ATOD Skills model applies to ATOD specialist workers The minimum qualifications and ATOD skills position statement is applicable to workers who are employed to work directly with ATOD consumers in an ATOD-only service, or in an ATOD specific program within an organisation which provides a broader range of services. It is recognised that many workers in non-atod organisations and programs also frequently work with consumers whose ATOD issues impact upon the service provided by the worker, and the ATDC supports the up-skilling of these workers in ATOD matters, but acknowledges that it is beyond its jurisdiction to state a position in relation to the ATOD skills and qualifications of this generic workforce. b. Minimum Qualifications and ATOD Skills are not prerequisite With the exception of very specialized roles, the statements in this paper in relation to minimum qualifications and ATOD skills relate to either qualifications and skills that are sought during the recruitment process or an essential pathway for professional development, within a defined timeframe (eg 24 months) after the commencement of employment. This approach recognises that recruiting the right person, with appropriate attitudes and values for the role, is critical. Knowledge and ATOD skills relevant to a particular role can be acquired by someone who has already demonstrated that ability and adaptability. c. No existing worker is disadvantaged Existing workers may choose to upgrade their existing qualifications, or add specialized qualifications or skill sets to bring them into line with the identified minimum qualifications and skill base for their role and/or recommended professional development pathways. They may also choose not to undertake an upgrade or addition to skills and qualifications. By doing so, they will not be disadvantaged within their existing role within their organisation. However, if an existing worker wishes to apply for a promotion or a different role within the organisation, or a role with another organisation, the minimum qualifications and ATOD skills model will apply to them. d. Recognition of the lived experience It is recognised that the employment of Peer Workers within ATOD programs is desirable. Their lived experience provides considerable knowledge and skills which can bring value to their Peer Worker role. Page 6

9 Should a person within a Peer Worker role wish to attain formal recognition for their skills and knowledge and undertake ATOD specific skills or qualifications, they should be supported by their workplace in this. However, there is no requirement for them to undertake such a qualifications pathway. Should a Peer Worker move into another role within the organisation, then the minimum qualifications and ATOD skills appropriate to that role should apply to them. e. Ongoing professional development For both existing and new workers who have achieved at least the minimum qualification and ATOD skill base for their role, the planning of a professional development pathway which provides educational options to enhance both capacity to undertake current role and career promotion prospects is highly recommended. The professional development pathway should include, but not be limited to, the recommended professional development pathway in Figure 2 on page 2. f. Method of attainment of Minimum Qualifications and ATOD Skills is not prescriptive The ATDC recognises that individuals have differing levels of existing skills and knowledge and different learning styles. Attainment of minimum qualifications and formal recognition of ATOD skills will be under the auspices of a registered training organisation or higher education provider. The methods of attaining the qualifications and skills may be through recognition of current competence, or learning and assessment processes. Learning processes may include participation in classroom training and/or individual on-the-job training plans. Individual training plans are structured pathways to development of appropriate skills, attitudes, knowledge and competence in the ways best suited to the individual worker. Pathways to Relevant Qualifications and ATOD Skills There are many different educational and career pathways that the workforce may follow to enter the ATOD sector. Figure 1 illustrates some of the educational pathways that may be chosen by those wishing to attain appropriate qualifications and skill sets to support their work in the ATOD sector. There are both vocational (TAFE type) and tertiary (University) qualifications that provide education that is relevant to work in the ATOD sector. Some of these contain specific ATOD content, others are generic, and may be supplemented by further ATOD specific qualifications or skills to attain the level of skill and competence required of a particular ATOD role. Jane s Education Jane completed her grade 12 year and undertook a couple of years working in retail before deciding that she wanted to pursue a career in community services, so enrolled in evening classes in the Certificate IV in Community Services. Towards the end of her studies, and as a result of a placement which brought her into contact with ATOD consumers, she was offered a part time position; she also decided to enrol in the Diploma of Community Services (Alcohol, other Drugs and Mental Health) to develop her knowledge and skills in working with ATOD consumers. Page 7

10 Qualification Pathways Figure 1 Grade 10 Certificates 1-3 Grade 12 Certificate 4 Community Services, Mental Health, Youth Work, Welfare, etc Certificate 4 Alcohol and other Drugs Diploma Community Services, Mental Health, Youth Work, Welfare, etc Bachelor Social Sciences Sociology Psychology Counselling Nursing Pharmacy Medicine Bachelor Social Work Diploma Community Services, (Alcohol, other Drugs and Mental Health) or (Alcohol and other drugs) John s education Page 8 Graduate Certificate Addiction Studies John progressed directly from grade 12 to university, studying a bachelor of social work. After placements during his study, he gained a full time position as a social worker with an ATOD service but in order to develop his ATOD skills enrolled part time in the Graduate Certificate in Addiction Studies.

11 The Minimum Qualifications and Skills Model The data from the ATDC 2012 Workforce Survey was examined in respect of qualifications held by ATOD specialist workers in different roles. The outlying low-level qualifications were discounted, and the remaining qualification levels have informed the minimum qualification and ATOD skills for each group of roles as illustrated in Figure 2. The principal of the minimum qualifications and ATOD skills for each group of roles is that: Either The new worker is recruited holding the ATOD specific qualification; or The new worker is recruited holding a relevant generic qualification and an ATOD skill set. Or The new worker is recruited without a relevant qualification and a professional development plan is put in place for the worker to attain the minimum ATOD specific qualification within 2 years of commencement; or The new worker is recruited with a relevant generic qualification and a professional development plan is put in place for the worker to attain at least the ATOD skill set within 2 years of commencement. And A professional development plan is put in place, either concurrent or subsequent to completion of the minimum qualifications and ATOD skills, which enables the worker to undertake the recommended professional development pathway, and other professional development as required, to enhance job skills and career progression prospects. Jenny s career Jenny came to work for an ATOD service as a youth worker after several years as a teacher. She immediately enrolled in the Certificate IV in Alcohol and Other Drugs, and subsequently completed her Diploma in Community Services (Alcohol, Other Drugs and Mental Health) while working in this position. A position as an ATOD clinical worker became vacant and she applied for and was awarded this. She simultaneously enrolled part time in the Bachelor of Social Work (receiving substantial credit for her previous studies) and toward the end of this study, she applied for and was awarded a position as social worker. Page 9

12 Applying the Minimum Qualifications and Skills Model Figure 2 Minimum ATOD Qualifications and Skills (Prerequisite or acquired within 2 years of commencement) ATOD Role Recommended PD Pathway Peer Worker Peer Workers ATOD qualification Certificate IV in Alcohol & Other Drugs Certificate IV in Alcohol & Other Drugs Other relevant Certificate IV Plus ATOD Skill Set Youth Worker Support Worker ATOD Worker (non-clinical) Case Manager Diploma in Community Services (Alcohol & Other Drugs) or (Alcohol, Other Drugs and Mental Health) Diploma in Community Services (Alcohol & Other Drugs) or (Alcohol, Other Drugs and Mental Health) Other relevant Diploma Plus ATOD Skill Set ATOD Worker (clinical) Outreach Worker Diploma in Community Services (Alcohol & Other Drugs) or (Alcohol, Other Drugs and Mental Health) Bachelor of Social Work with ATOD content Relevant Degree Plus ATOD Skill Set or ATOD content in Bachelor of Social Work or ATOD elective from Bachelor Social Science or Graduate Certificate In Addictions Social Worker Counsellor Nurse Psychologist Diploma in Community Services (Alcohol & Other Drugs) or (Alcohol, Other Drugs and Mental Health) Graduate Certificate in Addition Studies Relevant Management Diploma Relevant leadership skill set Team Leader Manager Supervision, Management & Leadership training opportunities Page 10

13 Implementation 1. Skill Set identification In order for the Minimum Qualifications and ATOD Skills position to be valid, the skill set that is required needs to be relevant to the sector. The following will need to be determined for Tasmania: Whether the same minimum ATOD skill set is relevant for each group of job roles; The extent to which existing nationally recognised units of competence are relevant and comprehensive and can be linked to different job roles; Definition of the underpinning core values, attitudes and ethical practices. 2. Quality and availability of training and assessment It is imperative that education and training provided to support attainment of skill sets and qualifications specified in this position paper is at a standard that ensures it meets the needs of those engaging in it and their employers. The training providers will need to address: The content of training delivered and the level at which it is pitched; The integrity of assessment processes; The competence of trainers; The currency and relevance of units of competence. Opportunities for, and preparedness of, those engaging with the education and training to provide feedback to inform the continuing drive for excellence is essential. To be effectively available to all services, education and training to support the attainment of skill sets and qualifications needs to be available regionally. In the ATDC 2012 Workforce Survey, 33.6% of respondents identified that the cost of travel and accommodation (for training not available locally) was a barrier to undertaking further training. 3. Organisational commitment For organisations to effectively implement the Minimum Qualifications and ATOD Skills position, they will need to have reasonable study leave allocations and be prepared to support staff by approving time to participate in learning and assessment activities. Given that, in the 2012 ATDC workforce survey, 50% of respondents identified that their organisations utilize study leave as a professional development strategy, this is already a developing practice within ATOD organisations. 4. Job definitions and position descriptions It may be desirable to identify a number of core ATOD specialist worker roles, to define or scope these job roles and develop position descriptions for them, including required qualifications and professional development pathways, their levels of responsibility and link to classifications and remuneration scales within the Social, Community, Home Care and Disability Services Industry Award This would provide a shared understanding of roles within the sector and clarity for both employers and employees. These generic position descriptions would not restrict the flexibility of organisations to define the duties as relevant to their particular needs but would serve as templates that may be used to assist in better defining the wide range of roles within the sector. Page 11

14 5. Liaison with education and training providers It is noted on the previous page that identification of minimum skill set/s will need to be undertaken. There will need to be ongoing work with education and training providers to ensure that the minimum, at least, is embedded into any ATOD content which provides an alternative pathway to ATOD competence for workers. 6. Support for Training Transfer A central component of effective training and professional development is the capacity of workers to apply newly developed knowledge, skills and abilities to their work practice, and be rewarded for doing this. This is termed training transfer, and there are a number of factors which impact on the effectiveness of the process. There may be some need for support for some organisations to enhance training transfer for their workers: ie, supported opportunities for workers to put into practice their new skills and knowledge in order to provide improved services for consumers. Page 12

15 Recommendations for Action It is recommended that the ATDC: 1. Skill Set identification Determine the method by which relevant skill sets will be identified, including a range of approaches for comprehensive sector consultation. The scope of this work will include reference to the issues for implementation identified in this paper. 2. Quality and availability of training and assessment Continue liaison and negotiation with education and training providers to ensure the provision of appropriate, high quality ATOD education and training at all levels from skill sets to postgraduate qualifications. 3. Organisational commitment Maintain ongoing communication with the ATOD community sector to enhance commitment to, and uptake of, the Minimum Qualifications and ATOD Skills model. 4. Development of position description templates Identify key ATOD specialist roles, and develop position description templates and/or sample position descriptions. 5. Liaison with education and training providers Work with education and training providers to ensure that the minimum skill sets are embedded into any ATOD content which provides an alternative pathway to ATOD competence for workers. 6. Support for training transfer Develop, and support the implementation of, a suitable template for organisations to use to identify and plan for staff training needs, including strategies for effective transfer of this training into workplace skills. 7. Negotiation of funding pathways Continue to negotiate access to funding to support new, and interested existing, workers to access the training and assessment required to attain the Minimum Qualifications and ATOD skills. 8. Evaluation of the implementation of Minimum Qualifications and ATOD Skills model Utilise the biennial ATDC workforce survey to monitor changes to qualifications and skill sets held by ATOD workers, and compare this to the baseline levels qualifications already known from the 2010 and 2012 surveys. Page 13

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