A range of individuals across government, private, education and non-profit sectors met in early September to exchange insights around workforce challenges. These challenges not only affect the podiatry profession but the entire allied health sector.

Understanding the data

Several factors led to this summit; particularly member feedback on increasing recruitment challenges. APodA data certainly backed this up, with classifieds generally remaining active on the website for increasingly longer periods.

 

The summit’s purpose was to explore workforce data as shared by stakeholders in attendance. From here, a baseline of key data – collated in this way for the first time – could inform onward and much wider collaborations.

 

The APodA is now compiling a summary report of this workforce summit, to share next month. This exercise is not an end goal within itself. Rather, the report gives us a foundation of data-driven insights to inform onward discussions that will intentionally supersede the life of this document.

The temptation for solutions

The upcoming report certainly reminds us that workforce challenges do not fall within the boundaries of a simple ‘cause and effect’ scenario. This is an iterative process. Our workforce challenge is contingent on many moving parts and not accountable to any single entity as being ‘the’ solution. Yet it is tempting to want to offer solutions – based on a mixture of instinct and lived experience.

Adopting a realistic approach

However, if we are to truly move the needle, an informed understanding – and desire for change – is needed across multiple sectors. Many issues hold relevancy here  – such as our changing regulatory landscape and the role of our government sectors, the impact of the private sector, changing university trends, technology advancements, our ageing population, global workforce trends, rural and regional workforce challenges, the advent of patient-centred care, the impact of big data; as well as epidemiologic, generational, demographic and geopolitical shifts. These all shape the workforce challenges you as members are likely to experience on a daily basis.

 

Indeed, many people – far beyond the realm of this particular summit – may think they understand the specific causal factors at work here. And in a very real sense, everyone is correct. Yet these are all partial truths that cannot address the situation single-handedly. APodA’s role – both through and beyond this upcoming report – is to understand where these truths intersect and to coordinate a more informed understanding of this issue for everyone’s benefit. Then we can hold more informed conversations across a wider group to influence change together.

The catalyst for allied health

What became abundantly clear during the workforce summit – is that as a profession, podiatry has a low probability of achieving large-scale advocacy impact without informed data to back it up. However, when such data is spotlighted against the wider backdrop of allied health – being the second biggest workforce in Australia – the people we need to take notice are much more likely to do just that.

 

This process is not a stand-alone exercise for the APodA in isolation; rather it is the start of a much wider process for the allied health sector to work on together. Collaboration across the sectors is vital if we are to garner enough attention for significant policy change.

 

As a relatively small profession in this playing field, podiatry is nimble and able to take action and lead by example; and that is just what we intend to do in collaboration with our members.

 

If you want to contribute your experiences and continue this discussion contact our Advocacy Manager, Dan Miles at dan.miles@podiatry.org.au

 

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