Employment Services and the challenges we face as Employment Consultants.
Employment Services is difficult enough as an industry to work in but with the added complexity of client barriers and (dare I say it) little to no formal training many EC’s experience emotional fatigue, burn out, mental break downs and in some cases become someone they never wanted to be. I want to make it clear that this can impact on JobActive and DES EC’s but the below is from a DES EC’s perspective.
But the man question is always “why”, why is there no requirement to have experience in mental health services or training for EC’s? I would argue a number of factors influence this. Firstly, EC’s are not seen as support workers and are not expected to provide mental health and other assistance’s in this space to clients. However, it is unavoidable as many clients have limited access to these services, limited income (to pay for these services) and in many cases are isolated and have no other supports to engage with. So why do we take on the role of Support worker?
Clients need to become work ready and then engage in employment… it’s the goal of Employment services. To achieve this, clients need to be supported and developed into a job ready state for some this can be as simple as a short course or renewing a licence/qualification before it expires. For others it can be a slow arduous process requiring relationship building, supporting clients through difficult issues and assisting them to take the necessary steps to get the appropriate help. Many clients won’t engage in supports without extensive work done with a capable and experienced EC first. Now we need to face the big question of what makes someone suitable to be an EC?
EC’s skills and capabilities are as diverse and complex as the clients we support. However, my personal view is that a great EC is Empathic, Compassionate and altruistic. They have life experience to draw on and have the ability to adapt to every situation they are faced with through their ability to listen and carefully consider their responses. Great EC’s don’t just have strong Emotional Intelligence skills they also have a high level of attention to detail, exceptional time management skills, negotiation and marketing abilities. Another skillset that a great EC needs is the ability to adapt to change in contractual requirements and process but also maintain a dedicated focus on integrity. Great EC’s will ensure everything is done correctly and will refuse to take shortcuts.
In short, the Employment Services industry has such a high turnover rate because the diversity of skills needed are not easily developed or obtained. Very few people come into the industry with the ability to meet all the above expectations. Unfortunately, there is a drawback to how the industry can impact on EC’s over the long term. Some EC’s may develop an emotional wall and with work in an unbalanced power version of Employment support. This is where an EC will use compliance and fear to motive clients into roles and to complete requirements.
This discussion is only a brief overview of my personal thoughts. But I do hope it starts discussion as I’m sure many EC’s are feeling overwhelmed and stretched in their roles. Perhaps by discussing this EC’s can find some support in others experiencing the same challenges.
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