Workforce Minister Stuart Robert has foreshadowed significant changes to the way people are trained to work in aged care as the sector stares down the barrel of a looming workforce shortage.

CEDA’s Duty of Care report released in August identified a potential shortage of 110,000 aged care workers by 2030.

National Skills Commission data also shows that a quarter of a million extra workers will be needed for the care sector by 2025, with aged care one of the fastest growing segments of the market.

A CEDA forum on the care economy this week heard that that training and recruitment are one of the key levers to addressing the shortfall.

Workforce Minister Stuart Robert addresses a CEDA forum on October 11, 2021

‘Not fit for purpose’

But workforce minister Stuart Robert said training for a career in aged care was currently “not fit for purpose” and the government will soon be announcing changes to the way qualifications are obtained.

This will involve a shift away from the current system of vertical competency units towards a “qualifications library” integrating a wider spectrum, including industry qualifications, university qualifications and micro courses.

“There will be announcements very shortly about how we’re going to change how qualifications are built,” Mr Robert said.

“Currently … the way qualifications are constructed and competency is designed is not fit for purpose and there will be substantial changes.”

He said the government’s Skills Organisations Pilots, which for the last two years have been exploring how industry can be more involved in vocational training, have shown that it’s possible to gain skills and qualifications within 90 days.

Mr Robert said there will a major government campaign to attract people to aged care but “we have to make sure that the entire education ecosystem works and at present frankly it doesn’t.”

Asked whether the rush to qualify workers risked compromising quality, Mr Robert said it was up to the independent skills quality regulator ASQA to determine the quality of training.

Belinda Drew addresses a CEDA forum on October 11, 2021

 “The regulator’s job is to ensure that the training is fit for purpose and we’ll let the regulator deal with that,” he said.

From December the National Careers Institute will also be connected to the training system to recognise a wider range of qualifications, skills, training and knowledge and link people to career paths.

Home care workforce

The forum heard it was important to get the right workforce into home care with more people preferring to age at home and a significant commitment in the budget to boosting home care packages.

“There’s some preference and choosing that goes on at the workforce level between residential centre based settings,”  CEO of the Community Services Industry Alliance Belinda Drew said.

“We need more sophisticated and nuanced recruitment and selection processes that helps us discern those people that are best placed to do that work.”

Employers also needed to ensure safe and supported working conditions for people in the home care sector, which could often be isolating work, she said.

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3 Comments

  1. Fantastic news to see training reviewed ! I have seen the changes and the quality of training degrees with RTO pushing staff into industry after a 4 week rushed course .As a RN with CN and CE experience these methods do not prepare people for the industry ,6 mths minimum with maintaining dignity and palliative care a focus needs to be included

  2. Hip hip hooray, about time!!! the quality of aged care training in this country is well below standard and has been for years, hence the quality of care provided to our communities most vulnerable citizens clearly portrayed in the report from the Royal Commission into Aged Care. Our training organisation takes at least five full months to train a student to work in aged care. It beggars belief that we expect untrained care workers to look after elderly people who have very complex health and medical needs and wider society seems to think this is ok, no wonder there was so much abuse identified in the commission’s report. Over the years I have seen appalling practice in the residential and community sector, care workers been mentored and trained by staff that were poorly trained themselves, providers thinking it’s ok for workers to be trained in short time frames eg. 6 weeks, how can this be right?? Time and time again, our graduates go into the sector with integrity and commitment, being told they’re training was ‘over the top’ they are then taught poor practice industry and become part of the dysfunctional culture. For example very poor practice in infection control, use of PPE, personal care assistance, documentation. We need a firm commitment to have trained care workers to have at least a Certificate 3 qualification and be registered, just like Child Care Workers. This sends a very clear message that as a society we don’t really care about how our elderly citizens are cared for, they are not valued for their former and current contributions they have made or appreciated for their wealth of knowledge and experience. Care Workers need much more recognition to have the opportunity to be well trained, registered, well paid, valued and acknowledged for the work they do, otherwise the standard of care will never change and providers will always be faced with staff shortages.

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