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Seniorgram: Sending a Message on Senior Issues

“Who Will Care?” Report speaks to workforce needs

RoseannMartocciaHeadshotExecutive Director Roseann MartocciaThe Providers’ Council, the Donahue Institute at UMass and the Public Policy Center at UMass Dartmouth collaborated on the recently released report, “Who Will Care? The Workforce Crisis in Human Services.” The report seeks to better understand the growing workforce needs in the human services sector and examine potential solutions to the issue. Growth in demographic cohorts, such as elders, has contributed to increasing workforce needs in the direct work force, skilled professionals as well as licensed and clinical staff.

From 2015 to 2025, the working age populations age 20-64 in Mass. is projected to decrease by 40,000. This leads labor force and employment projections to suggest that the workforce in Mass. will fall short of what is needed. Labor market forecasts the growth in the human services industry will continue over the coming decade. These jobs will include new healthcare and social assistance jobs. Human services accounts for 27% of all health care and social assistance jobs. They include healthcare social workers, mental health counselors as well as child, family and school social workers.

Health and human services employers are already finding it difficult to fill both direct support and clinical positions within their organizations. A stable workforce is necessary to:

  • preserve consistent therapeutic relationships with clients, consumers and families;
  • meet contractual and/or compliance obligations; and
  • provide staff with necessary professional development and supports to foster job satisfaction.

The report goes into great detail regarding industry growth, challenges in filling positions and the impact on consumers and families as well as how to address these workforce issues. The report concludes with the following recommendations:

  • the Commonwealth should serve as a champion for the community based human services industry;
  • a clear career path should be developed to attract millennials into the industry;
  • provide sufficient funding so that employers can offer salaries competitive to public sector employees performing similar work;
  • fund government mandates, such as fingerprint screenings;
  • support loan forgiveness and tuition remission programs for workers; and
  • establish appropriate guidelines for organizations to hire and train immigrant workers through work or training visa programs.

As we know, life circumstances place individuals in need of care for a variety of reasons. Care providers must be a priority for policy makers, lawmakers and employers so we can collectively meet the needs of those who need care along with their families. To read the full report, click here.