Above: Care industry in focus: The Environmental Scan 2013
In case you didn’t know, the health and community services sector is the place to be.
According to the multimedia Environmental Scan (EScan 2013), officially released by the Community Services and Health Industry Skills Council (CS&HISC) last week, even ‘modest predictions’ estimate a 35 per cent rise in workforce numbers to 2025.
The Environmental Scan provides a sweeping summary of the strength of the care industry today and predictions for growth in the not too distant future, according to a statement issued by CS&HISC.
EScan 2013 [see the short EScan video overview here] shows that that the community services and health workforce currently employs over 1.35 million workers throughout Australia, accounting for 12 per cent of the country’s entire workforce.
CEO of CS&HISC, Rod Cooke, said every person in the Australian community has, or will at some point, come into contact with the community services and health industry.
“Whether it’s an enrolled nurse delivering care to the sick in an aged care facility, a child care worker looking after the needs of the young or a relationships counsellor providing advice down a telephone line, the work that community services and health staff perform touches everyone.”
CS&HISC says that industry analysis suggests that Australia’s ageing population; a related increased demand and expectation for quality services; and recent federal government reforms to promote consumer-directed funding and care models, will drive a marked increase in the demand for care services.
“Industry intelligence shows that the community services and health workforce is Australia’s fastest growing industry,” said Mr Cooke.
“EScan 2013 reports that the community services and health industry contributed over $85 billion a year to Australia’s national accounts in the 2011/12 financial year.
“We also know that Australia’s health care and social assistance industry was one of the main contributors to GDP and drivers of economic growth in the 2012 September quarter.”
According to this year’s EScan, health expenditure has increased by $53 billion over the last decade (from $77.5 billion in 2000-2001 to $130.3 billion in 2010-11) and in one year alone (from 2011 to 2012) the care services workforce grew almost five per cent.
“There’s currently more community service and health workers, more money being spent on health and an increase in the demand for care services,” said Mr Cooke.
“That’s proof of the importance and overwhelming contribution that the care service industry is making to Australia’s economy.
“But the economic value of what the industry does is only a drop in the ocean compared to the social value. At the end of the day, the community services and health industry is all about ensuring people have access to the best care services and enjoy the highest quality of life possible.”
CS&HISC’s EScan is an annual industry report, which brings together various sources of evidence-based data to provide a broad industry snapshot of workforce trends and predictions in the community services and health space.
EScan 2013 identifies that care services – which includes aged care, mental health, children’s services, disability care and Indigenous services – will face significant challenges that will not be met if the industry is unable to respond to changing industry demands for growth.
It recommends that workers and managers within the industry develop new skills to adapt to client-led care models.
“The community services and health industry will face dire, unprecedented workforce challenges unless the government and industry acts now to implement a structural solution,” said Mr Cooke.
“We believe an overwhelming proportion of the care services workforce will need to be VET-qualified. The consumer-focused workforce will be made up of an increased number of home and community, disability care, mental health, pastoral care, social housing and youth workers, as well as enrolled nurses, allied health and dental assistants and community development managers.
“We also expect that a number of volunteer carers will move into the formal disability care workforce as DisabilityCare Australia grows.”
Critical skills needed for a consumer-directed future, covered by VET-endorsed qualifications, will include financial management, service coordination and goal-based planning.
EScan 2013 suggests that future workforce challenges will also require the development of new training pathways, increased skills portability across aligned sectors – such as mental health, aged care and disability – and a renewed focus on quality for new training programs.
“The more vocational workplace skills and training a care service worker can achieve, the more prepared they will be to compete in the workforce marketplace of the future,” Mr Cooke said.
“And the more skilled and trained a workforce is, the more capable it will be in delivering quality care services.”
Watch the short video about the EScan here.