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Skills Week highlights need for more skilled workers in aged care

The current and growing need for aged care workers in Australia to care for our ageing population has once again been highlighted as part of National Skills Week 2017 with the sector named as one of two industries in need of skilled workers.

Huge demands for quality, skilled and dedicated carers (Source: Shutterstock)
Huge demands for quality, skilled and dedicated carers (Source: Shutterstock)

With the older Australian population projected to increase to 8.4 million people (21 percent of the population) by 2054, Skillsone, who run National Skills Week, suggests that the need for more skilled and quality aged care workers will also increase.

Chief Executive Officer of Skillsone, Brian Wexham says that the aged care, tourism and hospitality industries will be competing for skilled young workers now and over the coming years with the Productivity Commission estimating that by 2050 the aged care workforce will need to grow to around 980,000 workers.

“More people are living longer and there is a large population of people coming into that elderly age bracket – it’s a simple fact,” Mr Wexham explains.

“These two factors are having a massive impact on the aged care sector and mean that there is a need to attract more workers to aged care.

“The industry is definitely on the look out and there are huge demands for quality, skilled and dedicated carers who have achieved Certificate III of IV qualifications in aged care.

“With that said, where we are with job trends currently, there are two industries that are in need of more workers – one being aged care and the other is tourism and hospitality.”

Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt says that it makes sense to see a need for the aged care workforce to grow as the client group of older Australians grows, especially with the changes happening within the sector.

“Given the nature and scale of the reforms that are under way in aged care, particularly the expected growth in the home care segment of the system, the composition of the aged care workforce can be expected to change and skilled workers will be required in a broad range of roles from administration and management to care workers, nurses and allied health specialists,” the Minister says.

 

“Recruiting and retaining quality staff will be vital, and I think it is important that we start in high school. We are already seeing this at some residential facilities, which are linking up with schools to give students hands-on experience in aged care.

“While there will be an increasing demand for nurses and carers, this growing sector will support a wide range of professional positions, from horticulture through to hospitality and administration and leadership roles.

“With workforce predictions of almost one million employees within the next 30 years, aged care should be seen as an increasingly attractive career path for young Australians.”

At the forefront of encouraging younger Australians to pursue vocational and trade training, Mr Wexham sees first hand the way younger people in particular are impacted by working in aged care.

“It’s amazing to see young people be inspired by working with the elderly - they get a lot out of what they are doing,” he says.

“As well as this, the industry is changing, technology is playing a major role and there are lots of different aspects of aged care – there is a lot more to being an aged care worker than changing bed pans – it’s about connecting with people.”

Minister Wyatt echoes the positive impact working with the elderly can have.

“Aged care workers support some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” he says.

“A skilled aged care workforce is vital to ensuring quality care and quality of life can be provided to older people, both in residential and community settings.

“Aged care workers make an invaluable contribution to the daily lives of many thousands of older people, sometimes in very difficult and challenging circumstances.”

While the need for more skilled aged care workers is undeniable, the 2016 National Aged Care Workforce Census and Survey also found that the current aged care workforce is well educated and continuing to upskill.

The report shows that around 88 percent of the residential and direct care workforce and 86 percent of the community direct care workforce has post-secondary qualifications.

Minister Wyatt adds that two thirds of personal care attendants have a Certificate III in Aged Care, and 20 percent have a Certificate IV in Aged Care and says these skilled workers will be very much needed over the coming years.

“A well-led, skilled workforce that is adept at developing and adjusting care and services to meet the varied needs of older people will be fundamental in responding to both the growing number of older people and the differing demands that will need to be met,” he says.

“As part of the 2017-18 Budget, the Government committed funding of $2 million over two years to establishing an industry-led taskforce to develop an aged care workforce strategy. I expect to announce the makeup of the taskforce soon.

“The strategy is likely to address short, medium and longer term plans to boost, supply, demand and productivity, and support aged care providers in sustaining the future workforce needed to meet the care needs of older people.

“This will include identifying the training requirements and skill development of aged care workers to support an appropriately skilled and sustainable workforce into the future.”

For those looking into a career within the aged care sector, Mr Wexham and Skillsone suggests state TAFE’s as a first starting point for courses and further information.

More information on National Skills Week, 28 August -3 September 2017, is available online.

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