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Rebecca Deal started working in aged care for a more purposeful career. Picture: Supplied/TAFE NSW

Sector shortage drives a career change for one woman

A recent TAFE graduate has changed her career path, citing sector shortages and a personal experience that left her inspired for "purpose".

Rebecca Deal changed her career to work in aged care after her event and conferencing business closed during COVID-19.

Ms Deal also supported her father through his terminal illness, which left her feeling inspired to pursue a more purposeful career.

“I decided to follow my true calling," she told Aged Care Insite.

"It’s a very rewarding and challenging career. I love visiting the elderly and providing care for them.

"They often express how happy and grateful they are for the care, and it makes me feel like a million dollars."

Ms Deal first enrolled into TAFE NSW for a Certificate III in Individual Support, hoping to become a home care support worker.

Once she graduated, she jumped straight into Certificate IV whilst finding work as a home care support worker.

This year, Ms Deal will study for a Community Services (Case Management) diploma at TAFE.

"Aware of the shortages in aged care staff, especially during the Covid crisis, I was eager to make a meaningful contribution," she said.

"Unlike the events industry that almost disappeared during Covid, there is a lot of security in this role, and I will never struggle to find employment.

"The support and guidance from the teachers at TAFE NSW have been invaluable. I felt equipped with all the necessary skills and confidence to transition into a new sector with ease."

Between July and September last year, almost 10,000 workers left residential aged care services.

The workforce statistics assessed the turnover of 169,180 employees and found 1.4 per cent of nurse practitioners or registered nurses, 0.5 per cent of enrolled nurses, 3.9 per cent of personal care staff or assistants in nursing, and 0.2 per cent of service managers left work.

Almost six per cent of the workforce that left were direct care employees.

The aged care sector, however, is one of the largest and most rapidly growing sectors in Australia.

According to the latest figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, employment figures in the aged and disabled care sector surged by 63 per cent over the past five years.

While the increase is significant, the demand continues to grow, with one million new workers needed in the industry by 2050 and the latest Intergenerational Report estimating Australia's older population to triple.

Head Teacher of TAFE NSW Ultimo Aging and Disability Amanda Collins said they played a crucial role in delivering a steady pipeline of aged care workers to meet the escalating demand for skilled workers.

"It’s a highly rewarding career that offers multiple career pathways," Ms Collins said.

"By offering programs such as the Certificate III in Individual Support (Aging) and Certificate IV Aging Support, TAFE NSW is equipping our graduates with the necessary skills to deliver exceptional care and support to our aging population.

"Our students are driven by a genuine passion for the aged care sector, finding deep purpose in their ability to support our elderly population by helping them to maintain their dignity and independence."

Ms Collins said she expected the course also to grow following the IGR report.

"As the industry continues to grow, I anticipate a continued surge in career changers towards aged care, motivated by the ongoing demand for skilled workers, the offer of job stability and the sense of fulfilment it offers."

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