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.

‘Not fit for purpose’

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

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.

 “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

Belinda Drew addresses a CEDA forum on October 11, 2021

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.

This story first ran on Community Care Review.

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