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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 256,000 staff and generates total annual revenue of $22 billion. In the five years through to 2019, the industry averaged strong growth of 4.9 per cent with the trend predicted to continue. 

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 Job Outlook service, there's expected to be around 179,000 job openings for aged and disabled careers over the next five years. 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) is the largest welfare change in Australia since the introduction of Medicare in 1984. It provides essential support and services to people with disabilities, their families and their carers. The introduction of the NDIS is having a positive impact on the number of jobs being advertised across the aged and disability care sector.

According to the Australian Government, by 2020 the NDIS workforce will have more than doubled to over 160,000. With some aged care workers moving 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 is also currently under increased scrutiny due to the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. This is driving up minimum qualification standards for workers, resulting in a shortage of adequately trained staff. Industry insiders say it's likely the commission will recommend boosting patient-to-staff ratios, meaning people with skills in this area will be in high demand. 

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.

A report by Deloitte Access Economics shows the future of work in Australia is human. The creation of new jobs will be in fields that require interpersonal, creative, and problem solving skills that only a human can provide. But according to the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER) the human skills required to do these roles are hugely under-supplied, with Australia heading for a major skills shortage in these areas.

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. According to new data from SEEK, workers in aged care were among the top 20 industries with the greatest pay rises between 2011 and 2018. Workers have seen a 32 per cent increase in wages over the time period. This is at the same time as other careers in law, construction and engineering have experienced a pay cut.

It's also anticipated that the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety may recommend further increasing pay rates to better reflect the valuable role this industry plays in our society. 

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 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.

 

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