Could more men be the solution?

A workforce expert proposes ‘other’ ways to solve recruitment issues.

Above: Dr Deborah King from the National Institute of Labour Studies

By Yasmin Noone

Men could provide a solution to the sector’s chronic recruitment woes, potentially closing  up staffing gaps which are currently being filled by migrant aged care workers.  

Senior research fellow at the National Institute of Labour Studies, Dr Deborah King, encouraged providers to pick a solution to their workforce issues from outside the box and change their  recruitment ways, at the Living on a low income and care later in life forum, presented by Anglicare Australia and United Voice in Canberra yesterday.

Given that workforce shortages are already evident, Dr King asked, “Where will we find the required workers?”

“Migration is not the answer to workforce issues.

“Why can’t we think of recruiting men?”

Male workers, she said, could be the untapped market that the female-dominated sector is looking for. Older, experienced employees aged over 65 years could also prove to be a viable recruitment option.

Dr King advocated for the sector to pay staff better, improve current working conditions and provide incentives for staff to stay in the sector and move up in their career.

“Just make aged care a better place to work in.

“We can only do that through radical change and it won’t be painless.”

The aged care workforce needs to grow in response to increased demand and the Productivity Commission’s (PC) proposed changes to the model of aged care. The big question that Dr King asks is how?

“The PC is advocating all of this stuff but when it gets to the workforce chapter, it drops out. That’s what I’m concerned about.

“[…The report] doesn’t follow through with all the recommendations in the report [or say] what the changes will mean for the workforce.

“How does a change in the model of care affect the workforce?

The PC, she said, needs to propose how the sector should source new aged care workers and retain current employees.

Dr King also believes that the providers could attract new workers if it sector got the mix between acute, palliative and aged care right; if community care and aged care staff dealt with workforce issues together; and if overlapping disability and aged care services were integrated.

The sector must also change the image of aged care: “This isn’t impossible. It requires political will and direction and energy from the sector.

“The PC recommendations alone won’t create a good [aged care] workforce.”

Tags: aged-care, anglicare-australia, community-care, dr-deborah-king, draft-report, living-on-a-lowincome-and-care-in-later-life, national-institute-of-labour-studies, pc, workforce,

2 thoughts on “Could more men be the solution?

  1. There is an overwhelming pile of research and evidence into what constitutes a high quality workplace and in general the findings are consistent.

    To create a place where people want to belong and contribute it is necessary to have balanced and effective managers. It is necessary to fund professional development for both managers and service delivery employees. It is necessary to create work that matters. Employers cannot alter the task of providing aged care services; they can create an environment where people can see their input is valued and appreciated. It is necessary to pay a competitive remuneration and provide a working conditions that meet the needs of employees. In short what is good for the employee is good for the employer, not vica versa.

    Bureaucrats in Canberra have no interest in workforce development; they have a responsibility to provide aged care services at the lowest cost. The responsibility for workforce development rests with boards, committees and management teams. No amount of funding from Governments will create a workplace where people want to belong. That will not happen until management teams begin to meet the real needs of employees.

    People have a huge capacity for productivity. Managers waste that capacity by making work onerous and unpleasant. Instead of engaging with people and tapping into the collective wisdom of employees, managers waste time making people feel unwanted and unappreciated.

    There I suggest is the starting point Change the way in which we manage people. It wont solve a labour shortage however it may avoid the cost associated with having to source more labour during a labour shortage.

    John Coxon
    http://www.johncoxon.com.au

  2. As well as thinking of creative recruitment ideas, can I suggest that the seemingly forgotten strategy of good management for retention of staff, needs to be highlighted. Acknowledging, valuing, and mentoring of existing staff to enhance retention and team work is desperately needed from both middle and upper management. Perhaps some good management training could help retain the many people we lose due to disenchantment at the heirachical and often unsupportive management system. In this way we focus on those who recruit and train as an issue, not only the scary prospect of a dwindling recruitment market. There are many people who want to work as aged care workers, start and then leave due to workplace management issues. It seems that only the tough, brutal and very needy persist the current organizational cultures.

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