Council Leads: Melissa Coad and Ian Thorley working with Marcus Riley (Chair of the Aged Services IRC)

As Australia’s aged population continues to grow, demand for aged care workers will also grow. This creates opportunities for people looking to pursue a career in aged care, but also creates challenges for the sector in attracting, training and retaining a sufficient and highly skilled workforce.

Indeed, these challenges are already being faced across the sector with providers reporting skills shortages and significant difficulties recruiting and retaining appropriately skilled and qualified staff.

The Council acknowledges there is competition for workers with other sectors who share similar skill sets. This competition is particularly acute with the disability and health care sectors.

If the current workforce shortage in both the aged and disability care sectors is to be alleviated, it is essential to bring industry together with the vocational education training sector.

Strategic Action 3

Reframing the qualification and skills framework – addressing current and future competencies


Consumers rely on a knowledgeable and skilled workforce to meet their care needs. They value the relationships with the people they see daily in a variety of settings.

Insights, feedback and complaints from consumers has pointed to significant gaps in the competencies of the current workforce and tells a compelling story about what needs to be attended to when looking to the shape and role of future workforces.

There are inconsistent approaches to job families, job design, jobs pathways, career development and succession planning in aged care.

The education system, across both vocational education and training (VET) and higher education, needs to keep pace with the sector to ensure an adaptable, highly skilled workforce that supports the growth and evolution of the service delivery.

Education and training options will need to be flexible and fit-for-purpose, and they must respond to support workers and industry in this changing environment.


On 13 March 2018, the Australian Industry and Skills Committee announced the establishment of a new Aged Services Industry Refence Committee (IRC) to responding to A Matter of Care. The IRC was established in October 2019.

This Aged Services IRC has been tasked with ensuring that the national training system and higher education can address the current and future competencies and skill requirements of both new people entering the industry and existing employees needing to upskill.

The Aged Services IRC is revisiting national competency standards and will take into account all (widely defined) job families to scope opportunities for collaboration across VET, higher education and a range of industry sectors to tackle the challenges of an ageing society.

The Aged Services IRC will give industry and consumers the opportunity to work together to consider the competencies and skills that the workforce needs, as well as how to incorporate new living well models of care and career pathways. It will play an important role in Australia’s wider aged care reform by bringing industry together to help drive the necessary competencies and capabilities to deliver safe, quality care.

While it is the role of the Aged Services IRC to ensure the national training system meets the requirements of mission-critical roles in the industry, it is the Council’s responsibility to continue to support, inform and collaborate with the IRC.

You can find more information about the Aged Services IRC here:

Coming Up

Throughout the first half of 2020, the Aged Services IRC has been seeking input on a series of discussion papers:

  • Student Work Placement
  • ‘Re-imagined’ Age Care Workforce
  • Pathways and tertiary education
  • Nutrition and the mealtime experience.

See link below for further detail:

The Council’s input was sought (together with a multitude of other stakeholders) to help the IRC:

  • shape the content of future training and pathways
  • address the skills gaps of the aged care workforce and
  • understand the resource requirements across the sector to properly provide for the needs of older Australians into the future.

Watch out for upcoming communiques with details on the IRC’s findings and the Council’s response.

Strategic Action 4

Defining new career pathways, including how the workforce is accredited


The existing structures and job roles within aged care organisations do not currently allow for realistic career progression. Work undertaken for the taskforce on job definitions and pathways shows there are new roles emerging based on new models of care and new career pathways that can be opened up.

There is a strong perception of misalignment between the skills and competencies required for direct care roles and the current educational framework.  And numerous reports point to a lack of career progression as a principal disincentive to working in aged care.

With the exception of nursing, where there is an established career pathway through enrolled nursing to registered nursing (together with moving to nurse practitioner and specialist roles), there is no clear career pathway for the broader Personal Care Worker workforce.

In addition, despite the enriched scope of practice, leadership opportunities and greater autonomy of roles, many nursing staff are attracted to higher paid work in other sectors, so it is difficult to retain staff. However, it is possible that nursing staff would elect to stay in aged care if career pathways were created and supported.


The Aged Services IRC is examining new approaches to career structuring and progression in the sector, and the education pathways needed to support these structures, particularly for those critical job roles.

See link below for further detail:

The Council’s input was sought (together with a multitude of other stakeholders) to help the IRC shape the content of future training and pathways.

The Council’s position is that the skills mix of the care workforce must broaden in order to meet future needs. In particular, ensuring that the direct care workforce has an appropriate mix of skilled workers, including personal care workers, nurses, allied health practitioners and medical professionals.

Coming Up

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