Australia's older generation (those aged 65 and over) continues to grow and is projected to more than double by 2057. Population projections for Australia suggest that there will be four million people aged between 65–84 years old by 2022 and as many as eight million people by 2056.
Many older people wish to remain in their homes and be supported in the community for as long as they are able. The ageing of the population creates both pressures and opportunities for Australia's health and welfare sectors and Government is investigating available options and solutions to meet the challenges facing the sector for the coming decades. One of the challenges facing the sector is the number of workers required to support and service this population and recent forecasts show we’ll need almost a million aged care employees by 2050.
The challenge of addressing this future shortfall is greater than we thought, with up to 23 per cent of the workforce planning to leave aged care in the next five years. That’s about 84,000 people who, if they leave, will take their valuable skills and experience with them. Why are people leaving the sector in such large numbers? One of the causes is the lack of opportunity in developing new skills with many people citing this as the main reason to consider a change in career. Another is the lack of career progression with limited leadership positions being available and the length of time it can take to apply for such positions.
Employers need to develop clear pathways into management and increase the opportunity for staff to develop the necessary leadership skills and experience to apply for and be competitive in these positions when available. Ongoing education and training is also an important part of staff development and employees are increasingly looking at internal programs that will increase their skills and knowledge to future proof their employment.