Building capability in Australia’s aged care sector at a time of crisis

Published: Jan 31, 2023

By Darren Foster - Training Services Manager

There’s no denying that Australia’s aged care sector is facing a crisis. Pre-COVID, the sector was already facing significant challenges, driven by widespread worker shortages, increasing demand for services and escalating resource needs due to new requirements identified at the Royal Commission into Aged Care.

And while it’s clear that reforms were necessary across the sector, the challenges accelerated as safety requirements intensified when a global pandemic hit. At the same time, skilled migration, a significant source of labour for the sector, all but ceased.

The industry is facing the perfect storm

Recent research from the Committee for Economic Development in Australia (CEDA) has highlighted just how critical this skills shortage has become. The report identified an immediate need for an additional 8,000 workers to meet international best practice care and an ongoing need for 35,000 workers to join the sector annually. All of this in an industry that has a high attrition rate, with some 65,000 employees leaving the sector each year.

And when it comes to addressing such sweeping skill shortages, the response must be multi-pronged. One of the key areas is training, not only for new workers but existing ones too.

Why training is a critical part of the response

Training must be part of any response for three key reasons.

First and foremost is, of course, to ensure the sector provides the best possible care to clients in all settings, from home and community care to residential facilities. And secondly, with such high attrition rates, staff engagement must be high on the agenda. Thirdly, providers must be able to demonstrate skills alignment with aged care standards to meet compliance requirements.

But the challenge of balancing worker shortages with the need for ongoing upskilling and training is a significant one. Accredited training is essential to build vital skills and advance careers, but these courses take time away from the coalface, something many providers simply can’t carry right now.

Short, sharp training may be the answer

In this environment, providers need options to quickly upskill workers in alignment with aged care standards without taking them off the floor.

It’s a challenge VERTO has been working closely with providers to address for some time. In response, we recently launched a non-accredited Toolbox Talk kit for aged care providers, which includes posters, facilitator guides and e-learning courses. The kit contains everything a provider needs to upskill staff on 37 topics, aligning with eight aged care standards.

What I really love about this kit is that it can be delivered in short, sharp 10–15-minute bursts, perfect for shift handovers. This means staff aren’t off the floor or completing training on their days off when recharging before returning to a high-stakes environment is a must.

While these types of training certainly won’t replace accredited certification, they will help providers quickly lift skills in critical areas and demonstrate capability to regulators in the immediate term. We’ve even seen the kit used to inform family members whose loved ones need specific supports during time away from the facility.

I’d love to see a strong focus put on training in any response to the crisis because, when it comes to caring for our elderly, the stakes are so incredibly high. We already know that training plays a vital role in employee retention and attraction, so it is critical on that front as well.

We should all take an interest in the future of aged care because it’s likely to impact us all at some point in our lives, whether for ourselves or a loved one. As skilled migration climbs towards pre-COVID levels, that will help, but education and training will always remain key.

Whether you are an aged care provider, an existing worker or someone looking to enter the industry, VERTO can help. To find out more, contact our training services team on 1300 4 VERTO (1300 483 786) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..