NDIS recruitment: attraction and skills shortages

6 minute read

In 2019’s NDS survey, service providers identified NDIS recruitment as an ’emerging crisis’ that could, and likely will significantly impact the delivery of much-needed support services in Australia. 

To better understand the factors influencing this challenge, and the strategies organisations can employee to overcome it, we spoke with Madeline Hill, General Manager of Diversity and Inclusion, at global recruitment group, Randstad.

The NDIS recruitment challenge: what happened to all the talent?

The introduction of the NDIS over recent years has meant some far-reaching changes for the care industry, and in many cases, increased demands on organisations and the people they employee.

And while stretching budgets and a strong lean towards casual, verses permanent roles, may be contributing to candidate shortages, there are other factors at play.

“We have experts who recruit permanently into the allied health space and it is really difficult to find quality candidates,” Madeline said. “Largely, it seems  there are just not enough people coming through the university and TAFE pathways to cope with what is now required.”

The fact is, Australia’s population, like that of the rest of the world, is ageing. Similarly, as we become more educated and aware, and support becomes more accessible, greater volumes of people are seeking out disability services.

Though statistics show the number of nurses graduating has risen over the last decade, as have those graduating from courses required for entry-level support roles, the question is, have graduation volumes  grown enough to meet the rapidly increasing demands of the sector?

Widespread employee shortages suggest the answer is no!

Ironing out kinks in the NDIS that may enable more job security and more sustainable business models for managing cost, is part of the solution. But as Australians continue to age, and demand for services continues to grow, a skills shortage is likely something we will be dealing with well into the future.

Is there an industry-wide solution to NDIS skills shortages?

Madeline suggests one of the best industry-wide answers to the skills shortage, is to take a more strategic, medium or long-term approach, rather than simply employing a bandaid solution.

“A great example of an industry, or a company that has installed a more permanent solution is engineering and technology company, Siemens,” Madeline explained.

“The company identified it wasn’t getting enough talent through, so it built relationships with universities and invested in training and software to be used in courses.”

“Engineers completed their study having already used Siemens’ systems, meaning, though there was an initial investment, the return came in the form of more appropriately-qualified and trained engineer technicians and field workers, to fill those crucial gaps. When you see industries work with Government and universities, you get really great results.”

Right now, the aged and disability care sectors are facing similar challenges to Siemens.

Could key organisations or industry advocates work with tertiary institutions — even at a local level — to first attract more people into relevant courses, and second, promise a pathway into a career, strengthening the medium and long-term NDIS recruitment outlook?

What are the best NDIS recruitment strategies for providers?

The changes to the aged care and disability support services sector, have resulted in a much more competitive landscape for providers. To win clients, organisations need to market more and deliver better.

Similarly, the skills shortage has resulted in much more competition for the best employees.

Madeline suggests the same solution should apply in both cases — improved marketing of what is on offer.

“Employer branding is essentially promoting your company as an employer of choice — and then delivering on that promise every single day an employee works for your organisation. Our research clearly indicates companies that have a strong employer brand don’t need to work as hard to attract people and they get better quality candidates applying for their jobs.”

“Those companies that don’t have a strong employer brand can be paying up to 10% more per hire and they are working so much harder to get those people on board.”

Employer branding is also widely considered a strategy for retention.

In an industry where ’employee poaching’ has been identified as a growing problem, an organisation focused on retention should be working to deliver a competitive and positive employee experience, in order to decrease the attraction of lurking ‘poachers’.

Shaping your employer brand as an NDIS provider

Forming and building an employer brand for your organisation is a highly strategic process. Madeline has a few key suggestions for NDIS providers on how to best approach employer brand development:

  • Shape employer brand around ideal employee traits

In industries like aged care and disability support, Madeline suggests employer brand should take direction from the most common traits of people who are attracted to and work in the industry.

“The most effective and in-demand employees in this industry, those who choose to work in it rather than doing so out of necessity, are people who are compassionate, who genuinely want to support and assist others. Building your employer brand to appeal to people who have those traits, and then ensuring they are able to deliver service effectively, will help you attract and retain.”

  • Learn from those who already have it right

Madeline says many notable brands in the health science field are already getting employer brand right and can act as an example for NDIS providers.

“If you look at pharmaceutical or medcare companies, that have been around so much longer than most NDIS providers; their employer brand, their mission, their company values are so clear. They are so driven towards patient outcomes and providing better quality of life for people, and they’ve really honed how they promote that, over time.”

  • Think about what you offer outside of salary

“Don’t forget to also think about the non-salary benefits you can offer, especially in a sector like disability and aged care where the bottom line is crucial and salaries sometimes not as competitive,” Madeline said.

“For example, look at the airline industry. When they employ an accountant, that accountant gets access to cheap flights. The company doesn’t pay above market rates to that accountant or any head office staff. The benefits are perceived so positively that people think — wow those benefits are so good, I’m going to take a job that doesn’t pay me any more money, just so I can get access to the benefits.”

“Those flights, those benefits might not even don’t add up to the salary they would get elsewhere. But it comes down to how the company tells that story; how they get that message out about those great benefits.”

  • Remember to live your employer brand all the time

Employer brand starts with how a company is portrayed as an employer. It continues into how people are treated through the recruitment process (whether they are hired or not), and then into management, communication and an employee’s overall experience while they are working in a role within the organisation.

“Interestingly, our data shows 39% of people who have a negative recruitment experience with a company, will be influenced by that experience, when making a decision to use a service from that company in future.”

Promoting your employer brand

Like any other strategy, an employer brand is only a document until it is put into practice, and that means promoting it externally, and living it internally.

Inside your organisation, employees should see you ‘walk the walk’ after hearing you ‘talk the talk’.

The benefits they were promised should be evident: managers should be approachable and accessible, systems should be modern and user-friendly, processes should support excellence in delivery. With this in effect, the effort to present a consistent and effective employer brand externally, is so much easier.

Outside of your organisation, your positive employee experience should be evident in everything from NDIS recruitment ads, to reviews on Glass Door and Whirlpool, to how your own managers undertake interviews with potential recruits.


VisiCase provides an NDIS-ready business automation platform, built on powerful workflows. It helps you manage, streamline and optimise every component of your business, and its modules empower a positive employee and client experience.

Madeline Hill is the General Manager of Diversity and Inclusion at global recruitment company, Randstad.

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