Aged Care Workforce Projections Are Set To Grow

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The Australian Bureau of Statistics workforce data highlights the aged care sector as one the nation’s fastest growing job markets. There are 3,223 aged care providers, ranging from small to large enterprises with a current workforce of more than 366,000 people, approximately 3 per cent of Australia’s total workforce. It operates across residential care, home care and community-based care, and interfaces with services provided through the health system and disability and social supports.

The aged care sector is part of Australia’s broad and rapidly growing health care and social assistance industry and a significant contributor to regional and rural economies. The Productivity Commission (2011) predicted that 3.5 million Australians will be accessing aged care services every year by 2050, requiring a workforce of almost one million direct care workers.

The direct aged care workforce includes personal care workers, nurses, support staff and allied health professionals. Aged care services operate within a tightly regulated market where the Australian Government controls the number, funding level and location of residential aged care places and the number and level of home care packages. Approximately 70 per cent of the costs of aged care service provision are provided through government subsidies, with the remainder from consumer contributions.

The Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce chaired by Professor John Pollaers delivered and presented A matter of care–Australia’s aged care workforce strategy. This strategy developed in 2018 outlines 14 areas for action to support Australia’s aged care workforce motivated by a common desire—to create a better, more sustainable aged care system.

The taskforce engaged closely with many organisations, individuals and interest groups to shape the strategy. One imperative identified is candidate attraction and retention. They assessed the factors that influence the appeal of the industry, attachment to the work and organisations and developing well-targeted strategies that can be adopted to retain skilled people and attract new potential workforces.

Evidence gathered through the course of the taskforce’s work suggests that there are considerable challenges within the industry associated with high employee turnover, poor employee engagement and enablement, difficulty in attracting talent, undervalued jobs with poor market positioning, lack of workforce planning, casualisation of the workforce, leadership effectiveness gaps, capability gaps, career progression bottlenecks, ineffective recruitment, induction and on-boarding processes. These challenges are amplified outside major cities and metropolitan areas, particularly in remote rural settings.

Quite often I engage with aged care clients experiencing frustrations not able to attract talent. Quite often open vacancies discussed are immediate. While the vacancy remains unfilled their organisation is unable to fulfil their promises to their clients. A workforce strategy should reflect future trends, not just the issues of today. The aged care sector needs consider the evolving expectations of their consumers, families, carers and local communities and ensure that it establishes the foundations for growing and enabling the current and future workforce. We often discuss our role as a sector specific recruitment agency in the pipeline management of the future workforce.

The 2018 Aged Care Workforce Strategy Taskforce strategy sets out 14 actions for the sector to change attitudes to caring, attract and retain a skilled aged care workforce, and ensure the workforce can meet aged care needs now and into the future. Included in the 14 actions is implementing new attraction and retention strategies for the workforce. As front-line recruiters abrs recommends consistent conversation and follow-up action on targeted recruitment strategies for specific groups to reinforce finding and retaining the right people with the right fit and keeping talented people.

If you would like to discuss implementing new attraction and retention strategies for your workforce please contact Gino Fasciani, Client Services Director on 02 9218 2380 or email

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