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Client Services

Overview

The Client Services sector provides a diverse range of essential services to the Australian public. These services are delivered mainly across the wider Community Services sector and include:

  • Career development
  • Celebrancy
  • Counselling
  • Financial counselling
  • Employment services
  • Child protection
  • Family dispute resolution.

Most of the organisations working within this sector are not-for-profit, with a few exceptions, such as self-employed celebrants and counsellors, or child protection services that are commonly provided and funded by government.

Strong employment growth rates are anticipated over the next five years within this sector. Most notably, welfare workers will experience significant growth by 2023 (an increase of 30.4%) as well as recreation and community arts workers (17.8%) and counsellors and welfare support workers (11.7%).

Nationally recognised training for occupations related to Client Services are delivered under the CHC – Community Services Training Package.

For more information on Children’s Education and Care, Community Sector and Development and Direct Client Care and Support and please visit the respective pages.

Information sourced from the Client Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The Health Care and Social Assistance industry is the largest employing industry in Australia. In 2019 there were close to 1.7 million people employed in this industry, which is projected to increase to more than 1.9 million by 2024. Within this industry, and relevant to Client Services, the occupations of Welfare Support Workers and Counsellors have experienced growth overall in employment since 2000 (with some fluctuations) and will continue to do so until 2024.

Training trends

Training snapshot

There were almost 9,510 program enrolments in Client Services-related qualifications in 2018 and almost 1,940 program completions. Program enrolments decreased by approximately 19% on the 2017 enrolment numbers. Program completions decreased by approximately 40% on the 2017 completion numbers.

In 2018, 70% of qualifications were at the diploma or higher level, with the rest being at the certificate IV level. Most enrolments (67%) were in the area of Counselling. The main intended occupation was Welfare Support Workers, followed by Civil Celebrant.

The majority of training was delivered by private training providers (81%), followed by TAFE institutes with 16%. The majority of subjects were funded by domestic fee for service (82%) and by government (17%). New South Wales had the single highest proportion of students in 2018, with 30%, followed by Victoria with 22% and Queensland with 21%. The majority of training was delivered in New South Wales (39%) and Queensland (28%), with a further 16% delivered in Victoria.

Relative to the number of enrolments, there were only small numbers of apprenticeship and traineeship enrolments and completions for Client Services-related qualifications in 2018. There has also been an overall downward trend for enrolments and completions since 2012. The intended occupation for apprentices and trainees was Careers Counsellor. The largest proportion of apprenticeships and traineeships were reported in New South Wales with 40%, followed by Western Australia with 32% and Queensland with 16%.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, please visit NCVER’s VET Students by Industry. If you are prompted to log in, please select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

For more data specific to your region please visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, please sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Client Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast identified the top priority skills for the sector as self management, online and social media skills, problem solving, and teamwork and communication. The top five identified generic skills are:

  • Communication / Virtual collaboration / Social intelligence
  • Customer Service / Marketing
  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) (Foundation skills)
  • Technology
  • Learning agility / Information literacy / Intellectual autonomy and self management (adaptability).

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers in the sector were communication skills and planning. The most advertised occupations were Health and Welfare Services Managers followed by Child Carers. The top employers were the New South Wales Government and the Government of Victoria.

According to the Client Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast, the sector is facing several challenges and changes that impact workforce skills requirements. These include:

  • Government policy/legislation changes – a major restructuring of the mainstream employment services program, jobactive; the Women's Economic Security Package (WESP); and a review of the family law system
  • New technologies – online and social media; online video counselling (OVC); and the Online Dispute Resolution System (ODRS) for use in family law matters
  • Low language, literacy and numeracy skills
  • Staff wellbeing and retention.

The above Skills Forecast highlights the importance of VET for celebrants in the sector. It states that improving the depth and breadth of initial and continued training to equip independent celebrants with the skills to provide quality services in a professional manner to their communities should increase the general public's confidence in, and respect for, independent celebrants and increase the opportunity for them to take on additional work. The VET system plays an important role in providing nationally accredited courses for new and existing celebrants in the sector.

The Client Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast highlights that due to the mass-adoption of online and social media by the general public, it is important for the Client Services sector to establish and maintain a high profile on social media and there is therefore a need for students to develop online and social media skills to aid in their work-readiness. For example, Commonwealth-registered marriage celebrants are required to complete five hours of ongoing professional development (OPD) activities each calendar year, which can include online and social media activities such as:

  • Social media marketing
  • Knowing how to create appropriate social media content
  • Creating and maintaining a social media presence
  • Social media as a marketing tool
  • Networking using social media.

Recent studies indicate that the advent of online video counselling (OVC) has the potential to improve service delivery options in counselling and Family Dispute Resolution (FDR). OVC can work as effectively as face-to-face resolution for family disputes, particularly in cases where parties are situated in different locations, and can be utilised in instances where clients in rural, regional or remote areas do not have access to face-to-face counselling services, or in instances where clients require time flexibility. Due to the growing interest of online video applications in counselling and FDR, it is important for staff in these industries to be proactively aware of, and open to, related technologies and training.

The Client Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast outlines several reasons why it is necessary to ensure staff in the sector possess a strong foundation in language, literacy and numeracy (LLN) skills, namely:

  • To allow for the development of technical skills
  • To adequately support their customer base if they are in front-line job roles
  • To ensure that in certain sub-sectors they can write accurate case notes and other client-related documents in order to minimise potential negative ramifications if these documents are not accurately written, e.g. poor client care.

At the federal level, there is a driving force for services funded by government to move towards outcomes measurement frameworks. As such, there is also an emerging need for practitioners working across a broad range of services to be able to understand data capture, to have solid data-entry skills, and to be able to read and understand data reports.

Within all the Client Services sub-sectors, the wellbeing of workers is a necessary workplace health and safety priority and a factor influencing the retention of staff. Overall, workers in the Client Services sector (e.g. child protection workers, case managers, financial counsellors, family dispute resolution practitioners, etc.) are regularly required to manage large numbers of complex cases, which can cause stress, emotional fatigue and potentially vicarious trauma. To ensure the wellbeing of workers in the sector, it is necessary to develop and implement wellbeing programs for staff. At the individual level, students and staff can be encouraged to be aware of emotional fatigue and burn-out, and develop and practise self-care skills.

The Nous Group report to the Department of Jobs and Small Business, Employment Services 2020: Consultation Report, highlights the importance of digital skills for both employment services staff and job seekers. If Australia is to effectively utilise new technologies and online systems to aid people in their efforts to secure work, digital literacy skills for job seekers will need to be assessed and developed. The report suggests that milestones to improve digital skills could be incorporated into an agreed outcomes framework for the job seeker, related to their job plan.

The Commonwealth Senate Education and Employment References Committee examined issues related to employment services consultants as part of their inquiry into the appropriateness and effectiveness of the objectives, design, implementation and evaluation of jobactive. In their report,  Jobactive: Failing Those it is Intended to Serve, the Committee summarised their findings on the topics of high turnover, large caseloads, and training:

  • There are high turnover rates in the employment services sector. Jobactive provider consultant turnover is 42% per annum.
  • High turnover rates have a number of implications for service quality including inconsistent advice and frustration for job seekers when they have to work with multiple consultants over time.
  • It is common in the industry for consultants to be managing very high caseloads. The average caseload is 148 participants. High caseloads make it difficult to provide high quality, tailored services to job seekers.
  • Due to the lack of adequate training provided, some consultants cannot communicate well with people facing significant barriers to work and often adopt an attitude which blames unemployed workers for their own unemployment.
  • Consultants should have cultural awareness training and specific training if they are working with certain vulnerable groups.
  • Consultants should have specific training in the service being delivered. Consultants need to understand the service they are being asked to give, to understand the conditions of the local job market and to have some sensitivity around some of the other issues that people who are engaging with these services might be going through.

Links and resources

Government

Australian Capital Territory Government Community Services Directorate

Australian Government Department of Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business

Australian Government Department of Human Services

Australian Government Department of Social Services

Australian Government Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

New South Wales Government Department of Communities and Justice

Northern Territory Government Territory Families

Queensland Government Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women

Queensland Government Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors

South Australia Government Department of Human Services

Tasmanian Government Department of Health

Victoria Government Department of Health and Human Services

Western Australia Government Department of Communities, Child Protection and Family Support

 

Industry associations and advisory bodies

Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA)

Australian Counselling Association (ACA)

Career Industry Council of Australia (CICA)

Case Management Society of Australia & New Zealand & Affiliates (CMSA)

Coalition of Celebrant Associations (CoCA)

Family & Relationship Services Australia (FRSA)

Financial & Consumer Rights Council (FCRC)

Financial Counselling Australia (FCA)

National Employment Services Association (NESA)

 

Employee associations

Australian Services Union (ASU)

 

Regulators

Australian Government Attorney-General’s Department

Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC)

 

Relevant research

Employment Services 2020: Consultation Report – Nous Group

Jobactive: Failing Those it is Intended to Serve – Commonwealth Senate Education and Employment References Committee

The Next Generation of Employment Services: Discussion Paper – Employment Services Expert Advisory Panel

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2019, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 1 digit Health Care and Social Assistance, employment projections to May 2024
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2024
    • 2721 Counsellors
    • 4117 Welfare Support Workers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2019, Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 16 December 2019 https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202019?OpenDocument

Employed total by ANZSIC 1 digit Health Care and Social Assistance, 2000 to 2019, May quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1st November 2017

http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202018?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4-digit unit group
    • 2721 Counsellors
    • 4117 Welfare Support Workers.                                            

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Student and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • CHC – Community Services Training Package
  • Career Development
    • CHC41215 - Certificate IV in Career Development
    • CHC42108 - Certificate IV in Career Development
    • CHC42112 - Certificate IV in Career Development
    • CHC70308 - Graduate Certificate in Career Development Practice
    • CHC81315 - Graduate Certificate in Career Development Practice
  • Celebrancy
    • CHC41015 - Certificate IV in Celebrancy
    • CHC42608 - Certificate IV in Celebrancy
  • Client Assessment and Case Management
    • CHC70208 - Graduate Certificate in Community Services Practice (Client assessment and case management)
    • CHC82015 - Graduate Certificate in Client Assessment and Case Management
  • Counselling
    • CHC42212 - Certificate IV in Telephone Counselling Skills
    • CHC51015 - Diploma of Counselling
    • CHC51115 - Diploma of Financial Counselling
    • CHC51708 - Diploma of Counselling
    • CHC51712 - Diploma of Counselling
    • CHC52108 - Diploma of Community Services (Financial counselling)
    • CHC80107 - Vocational Graduate Diploma of Relationship Counselling
    • CHC80208 - Graduate Diploma of Relationship Counselling
    • CHC81015 - Graduate Diploma of Relationship Counselling
  • Employment Services
    • CHC30908 - Certificate III in Employment Services
    • CHC30912 - Certificate III in Employment Services
    • CHC40502 - Certificate IV in Employment Services
    • CHC41115 - Certificate IV in Employment Services
    • CHC42008 - Certificate IV in Employment Services
    • CHC42012 - Certificate IV in Employment Services
    • CHC51608 - Diploma of Employment Services
    • CHC51612 - Diploma of Employment Services
  • Family Dispute Resolution
    • CHC80308 - Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution
    • CHC81115 - Graduate Diploma of Family Dispute Resolution
  • Statutory Child Protection
    • CHC70108 - Graduate Certificate in Community Services Practice (Statutory child protection)
    • CHC81215 - Graduate Certificate in Statutory Child Protection.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

CHC – Community Services apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Client Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2019, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills, occupations and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

  • Generic skills / Occupations
    • 27 Legal, Social and Welfare Professionals
    • 41 Health and Welfare Support Workers
    • 42 Carers and Aides
    • 134 Education, Health and Welfare Services Managers
    • Industry Sector: Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Employers
    • 1342 Health and Welfare Services Managers
    • 4211 Child Carers
    • 4233 Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers
    • 4114 Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses
    • 2726 Welfare, Recreation and Community Arts Workers
    • Industry Sector: Health Care and Social Assistance.
Updated: 31 Mar 2020
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