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Why working in aged care is a solid career choice

Ask someone why they work in aged care and they'll likely tell you it's an incredibly rewarding job. With the industry currently experiencing a skills shortage, aged care is an area that offers plenty of opportunities.

Current state

According to IBISWorld, the Australian residential aged care sector employs more than 329,000 staff and generates total annual revenue of $27 billion. While the industry continues to grow, the needs of aged care patients are becoming more complex. Patients are increasingly requiring specialised treatment in areas such as dementia, mental illness, and acute and palliative care.

The nature of the industry's service offering is also changing. A growing preference for independent living is shifting the focus from residential care to at-home care. These demands are placing increased pressure on the industry to provide quality services to elderly Australians. 

Factors driving demand for aged care workers

Australia's aged care industry is growing at an increasingly rapid rate. The country's ageing population, the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), and the increased scrutiny due to the Aged Care Royal Commission is driving demand for qualified workers to fill vacancies.

Australia's ageing population

According to data from SEEK, by 2056 it's estimated that one in four Australians will be aged over 65 with almost two million older than 85. As our population ages, people become more susceptible to age-related ailments. As such, they require more assistance with personal care and everyday activities, placing further strain on our health care services.

The aged care sector is growing in line with Australia's ageing population. According to the Australian Government's Labour Market Insights, the number of aged and disabled care workers is expected grow very strongly to reach over 341,800 by 2026. The long-term outlook for job prospects in aged care is also positive. Experts predict the industry will need to triple its workforce to more than a million people by 2050.

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)

The nation-wide rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) was the largest welfare change in Australia since the introduction of Medicare in 1984. It was introduced to provide essential support and services to people with disabilities, their families and their carers. The introduction of the NDIS has had a positive impact on the number of jobs being advertised across the aged and disability care sector. In fact, according to Jobs Queensland, NDIS-related occupations are projected to be some of the fast growing occupations in Queensland in the coming years. 

With some aged care workers having moved into disability care roles funded by the NDIS, this is putting further pressure on the aged care industry to fill vacancies. Employers are looking for qualified candidates who are caring, compassionate, empathetic, and reliable.

Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety

The industry has also been under increased scrutiny due to the findings from the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. This has driven up minimum qualification standards for workers, resulting in a shortage of adequately trained staff. The commission also recommended mandating minimum staffing hours for all residential facilities, resulting in further staff shortages for personal care workers, Registered Nurses (RNs), Enrolled Nurses (RNs), and Assistants in Nursing (AiNs). To meet the new targets, the commission estimates staffing will have to increase by more than one-third

Future proof your career  

In today's job market, technology is increasingly changing the work we do. Automation is quickly making jobs, and even whole industries, obsolete.

As a result, the professions least vulnerable to advances to technology and automation are those that require human touch. This is backed up by a report by Deloitte Access Economics that shows the future of work in Australia is human. It predicts the creation of new jobs will be in fields that require interpersonal, creative, and problem solving skills that only a human can provide. 

Luckily, the community services industry is one area that isn't at risk of being overrun by robots. While the sector is increasingly becoming high tech, it has always been highly interactive and relies on person-to-person relationships. There will always be roles where human touch is required and personal care for the elderly is certainty one of them.

Pay rates for aged care workers 

If that hasn't convinced you to start a career in individual support and aged care, maybe this will. There's been a lot of talk about wage rises in the aged care sector, and recently, there's been some important movement in this area. In July 2022 the Fair Work Commission increased the minimum wage for full-time aged care workers on the modern award by 4.6 per cent.

There's also an existing case before the Fair Work Commission that is seeking a 25 per cent increase to the wages of home care and residential workers, as recommended by the Royal Commission into Aged Care. At the last election, no Prime Minister Anthony Albanese made a commitment to support and fund the outcome of the Fair Work Commission case, so it's likely this won't be the last wage increase we see in this area. 

Aged care courses

If you're ready to join this growing industry, TAFE Queensland can help you get there. We offer a number of entry-level and advanced individual support courses with specialisations available in ageing, disability, and home and community care. Study aged care your way with traineeships and part-time study modes available, and get ready to start a job where you can make a real difference in people's lives.