Released on April 10, the Aged Care in Australia – Industry and Practice report found recruitment, retention and productivity are the number one concern facing aged care providers over the coming years.
According to the report, aged care providers employed around 350,000 people in 2012, with this figure expected to increase exponentially as the population ages. The total workforce is forecast to reach between 830,000 and 1.3 million by 2050 due to rising demand for services.
“What happens with the workforce is essentially what happens with aged care because the sector is very highly labour intensive compared to most other industries and the highest levels of expenditure are on wages,” CEPAR senior research fellow Rafal Chomik explained in the report.
This growing demand is good news for those considering aged care apprenticeships in Queensland, as the vast majority of those employed in this industry are workers who have gained post-school training in this field (86 per cent). Comparatively, just 64 per cent of the total Australian workforce hold post-school qualifications.
An important sector of the aged care labour force includes older workers, with a median age of 49 years, according to the report. Over a quarter of the employees in residential care facilities are over 55. This is encouraging for older Australians who have seeking mature age apprenticeships in this growing industry.
As the impending skills gap becomes more of a pressing issue, older Australians are encouraged to seek roles within the aged care sector. In particular, Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan urges employers to consider opening their doors to older workers.
“While the funding and staffing challenges are huge, dramatic employment growth in many kinds of jobs in the aged care sector present new opportunities for mature, experienced people who are often blocked by age discrimination in other sectors,” Ms Ryan said.
Additionally, aged care providers are urged to consider other methods to attract and retain skilled workers, including providing quality training, career prospects, supportive, safe and well-resourced workplaces, flexible work patterns, job status and recognition. Understanding and respecting the value of the existing workforce is also crucial to reduce turnover and encourage individuals to stay on rather than retire early.
By Leanne de Toerkenczy, Public Relations Coordinator