Aged care jobs among most resilient during pandemic – but figures hide a different story

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As swathes of Australians lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, a handful of industries proved more resilient than others – including the aged care sector.

A new 64-page report from the Federal Government’s National Skills Commission – titled ‘The shape of Australia’s post COVID-19 workforce’ – has outlined the professions that endured the pandemic better than others.

While total national employment fell by 438,000 (3.4%) between February and March, resilient occupations, such as those in the health care sector, recorded growth or minimal reductions.

More than half of the employment resilient occupations were made up by just three industries, with health care and social assistance accounting for 26.6%.

Aged and disabled care was given a resilience score of 15, second only to Registered Nurses.

Employment in health care and aged care still declined

Employment in the health care and social assistance industry still saw a decrease of 28,600 (or 1.6%) over the six months to August – but it was only the second lowest rate of decline.

Meanwhile employment in residential care services saw a decrease of 5,000 (1.9%) between February and August.

The report predicts health care will be one of the industries to dominate employment growth as restrictions ease.

Some workers too scared to come in during COVID

However, it doesn’t answer where those aged care and health care workers went in the first half of the pandemic – or if they returned.

Workforce costs are the biggest issue facing providers and some faced criticism from unions over reduced hours at facilities.

Providers had told us that there were some staff who were too scared to work – even after the immediate risk subsided.

Restrictions that limited workers from moving across multiple facilities also may have played a part.

Aged care may be tipped for workforce growth – but its issues of attracting and retaining staff remain.

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