Australia's national skills regulator is casting a close eye over registered training organisations (RTOs) following the rise in concern over training provided for workers in the aged care sector. By AMIE LARTER
A strategic review of vocational education and training (VET) in the sector will address fears raised in the Productivity Commission's August 2011 report, Caring for Older Australians.
The chief commissioner of ASQA, Chris Robinson, said that given that the number of older Australians is set to rise to more than 3.5 million by 2050, there will be more pressure on the health system to provide well-trained aged care workers.
"It is essential that we prepare for growth now by ensuring those undertaking VET-level qualifications are equipped with the right skills," he said.
"This strategic review will take a whole-of-sector view to aged and community care training to identify issues and formulate solutions."
The main issues addressed by the commission's report include the variability in the quality of training provided by RTOs, the need for better regulation; and fast-tracking of qualifications.
This stemmed from the report finding that some students were finishing courses in under a month, rather than the year-long training provided by more highly regarded organisations.
Lee Thomas, Australian Nursing Federation federal secretary, confirmed that the federation has been concerned about the fast-tracking of students through aged care courses, and the potential risk those students will be inadequately prepared for practice.
"Many of our members gave evidence to the Productivity Commission that qualified aged care nurses were being replaced by non-qualified workers," she said. "Students with inadequate training cannot be expected to be put to work in nursing homes to care for vulnerable residents, with many of them suffering a range of chronic and complex health problems."
Claire Field, chief executive of the Australian Council for Private Education and Training (ACPET), supports ASQAs review of training in the sector, stating that the "concerns raised by the Productivity Commission about the quality of training in this sector should be taken seriously."
About 10 per cent of ACPETSs member organisations deliver training for the aged care sector, a figure which is increasing with employers needs for more skilled workers.
"They [member organisations] have formal partnerships with aged care facilities, delivering training to increase the skill levels of existing workers and to ensure new workers are job ready," Field said.
"ACPET understands that ASQA has already been closely examining training organisations wishing to start training in the aged care industry while preparations were made for the strategic review. This is a sensible approach.
"Elderly members of our community deserve the highest levels of care and support. It is vital that the staff working with elderly people receive the training they need to do their jobs well."Do you have an idea for a story?
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