Residential aged care providers are increasingly partnering with state departments of education to provide school-based traineeships in the hopes of attracting young workers.
The efforts of aged care organisations to reach out to school students comes as providers and peak bodies say that the sector needs a national positive image campaign to promote the industry’s career opportunities.
Queensland aged care provider Ozcare has signed up nine school-based trainees for 2016 following a series of open days at its Gold Coast facilities where high school students saw first-hand the career and nursing pathways available in aged care.
The initiative was the result of a partnership between Ozcare and the Queensland Department of Education and Training and the Health Pathways Alliance.
Ozcare’s senior advisor of learning and development Sharon Duffy said it was important that aged care providers encouraged younger generations to consider a career in the sector.
“It is essential we support our industry by marketing it as a viable career option. We need to meet the needs of our local community now and ensure that in 20 years’ time we don’t face a skill shortage,” said Ms Duffy.
Barry Dowling, senior skills development officer for the Department of Education and Training said the apprenticeships provided a head start for students who wanted a career in the health industry.
“These students have had to go through a number of steps to achieve these school-based traineeships, they are the best of the best,” said Mr Dowling.
“It is a wonderful pathway that Ozcare had been able to give and it meant these students will be miles ahead by the time they reach university. They will be armed with invaluable knowledge and skills from their experience working in an aged care setting,” he said.
NSW-based provider IRT is another aged care organisation pursuing the potential of school-based apprenticeships.
IRT College general manager Dr David Rosete said it had partnered with the NSW Department of Industry and Apprenticeship Support Australia to pilot the industry’s first school-based traineeship in a Certificate III in Individual Support.
“We’re really excited to have 14 students from eight Illawarra schools participating in the pilot,” said Dr Rosete.
“The students will combine their school studies with work and training to gain credits towards their Higher School Certificate and a nationally recognised aged care qualification,” he said.
IRT chief executive officer Nieves Murray said that like many aged care providers, less than 10 per cent of IRT’s workforce was under 24 years of age, and it was keen to attract more school leavers to the organisation.
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