The alcohol and other drugs (AOD) sector has shown strong progress with regard to recognition, professionalism and international programs of training and credentialing. Yet little is known regarding the professional development (PD) needs of AOD workers, nor how these needs differ across career stages. Australian AOD workers (N = 812) from the government and non-government sectors completed an online survey. Early career workers (≤3 years’ AOD experience) were more likely than mid/late career workers to be non-government employed and earn less than the national average and were less likely to be AOD qualified and have permanent employment. Early career workers were more likely to nominate a need for PD in advanced clinical skills (86.3%, p ≤.05), dual diagnoses/mental health (72.6%, p ≤.001) and service delivery/partnerships/teamwork (66.4%, p ≤.01). These findings highlight an urgent need for advanced skill development to accord with increasing complexity in AOD presentations. High quality care is founded on a skilled and experienced workforce; addressing the ubiquitous PD barriers of time, cost and access is a crucial workforce development priority best addressed through reform to systems of organisational funding, professional accreditation and curriculum development in AOD specialist and generalist health areas.
- Alcohol and other drug workers
- early career
- inexperienced workers
- professional development
- workforce development