Since 2003 FAST has been leading the sector's campaigns to improve workforce development across the assistive technology field. The aim is to provide the foundation blocks for integrated working between different professions, disciplines and sectors. Key to our proposals is that practitioners need to hold both technical and person-centred skills, to a level that is relevant to the job role, in order to provide an effective, integrated service.
After several years' work, which has been largely unfunded, it appears likely that the key messages about the need to map national frameworks for qualifications and competence will be acted upon in 2010. FAST feels that this will support a radical change in the field and significant improvement to the service experienced by disabled and older people.
In the meantime, educational development continues and work to understand what competences are required within particular job roles is underway. One example of this is work begun in March 2010, funded by the TSB's Assisted Living Innovation Platform (ALIP) Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), to understand the changing roles of installer practitioners faced with more complex, integrated sensor and communications systems, link to more information.
To see FAST's listing of courses and training, go here.
Skills for Care (SfC), Skills for Health (SfH), the Children’s Workforce Development Council (CWDC) and the Care Services Improvement Partnership at the Department of Health commissioned a feasibility study into AT workforce development to be carried out by FAST on behalf of the AT Forum.
This study is now published, with a Summary Report and Appendices outlining in more detail the case for funding the proposed future work and outlining the underlying data (see Related Documents).
The aim of this study is to examine the case for investing in a workforce development strategy in AT and to assess the extent of work required. The approach is designed to:
Due to the wide scope of application of the proposed workforce development strategy and National Occupational Standards framework, the study authors propose that inital funding is secured for work in priority areas in AT:
This initial work will need to be co-ordinated to ensure the framework retains its potential applicability for the other specialist areas of competence and to ensure coherence across the framework.
Educational pathway development
By establishing a framework of National Occupational Standards in AT, FAST will enable the development of educational accreditation that can be made available across the country in a wide range of employment settings and which is sustainable due to the scope of the framework. FAST aims to secure the participation of education providers to enable coherent development of AT education from entry level right up through the educational hierarchy and between vocational and academic courses. This will result in the embedding of a person-centred approach to AT provision in workforce delivery across sectors.
This report originates in work undertaken by FAST, drawing on the expertise of AT Forum members, to review the situation for the AT workforce. This work was summarised in the report Assistive Technology: an education, a career, a partnership (pdf format, 965kb) published in November 2005. Both reports build on the Competence Framework for Trusted Assessors by Winchcombe and Ballinger (external link to the report on the College of Occupational Therapists website).