Attract and retain staff in aged care and child care sectors Thursday, September 2, 2021

Attracting and maintaining high quality staff is a challenge for many sectors. In particular, this has become a shared challenge of the early childhood education and aged care sectors.

Current statistics for employment in these sectors, along with future forecasting, demonstrates clear opportunities for improvement. Estimates from the Australian Government suggest that at least 17,000 more aged care workers will be needed in Australia every year over the next decade to meet sector demand.

Meanwhile, a 2019 a survey revealed that up to two in three early childhood educators in Victoria were considering leaving their role. High turnover of staff in childcare services across the country is a common issue.

There are overlapping reasons for these staff shortfalls across both sectors; including industry perceptions and a lack of training and upskill opportunities, along with wage concerns.

Encouragingly, the Federal Government has been focused on both child care and aged care sectors in recent years, with strong recommendations for reform to improve prospects and conditions for workers, such as those included in the recent aged care royal commission.

While progress at a Government level is encouraging, child care and aged care employers require more immediate action to address staff shortages, including attracting high quality workers to their organisations and retaining them.

Many are beginning to implement a range of strategies with the aim of achieving these staffing goals and ensuring they can create a thriving workplace now and into the future.

Effective partnerships with training providers

Partnering with leading training providers is a smart way for employers to gain direct access to high quality graduates. In many cases, it can create a direct pipeline for acquiring talent, whether through practical placement or adding a drawcard for incoming staff who want to receive quality training. This means less reliance on costly and time-consuming recruitment processes and often a higher standard of employee.

Employers taking on learners in practical placements not only helps increase their staff ratios, but gives them an opportunity to meet prospective employees and test whether they’ll be a good fit for their organisation before the formal hiring process.

Catalyst’s Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) have over 15 years’ experience working with child care or aged care organisations, and in the case of Selmar both, to help address their staff shortages with well-rounded trainees and graduates.

Provide opportunities for staff training and upskilling

With a particular need to encourage younger entrants into both child and aged care sectors, employers should be able to demonstrate they’re willing to help their staff grow their skills and experiences over time. Upskilling and career progression is something that organisations of all sizes can foster in their staff, and it can go a long way to retaining them.

Again, partnering with organisations like Catalyst and our training organisations can make it easier to design training pathways for staff that have the desire to upskill, helping to keep them engaged and interested in staying on long term.

With changes to minimum qualifications required to work in in aged care and high expectations for those working in the essential child care sector, businesses that are proactive about training their staff will reap the most rewards short and long term.

Seeking out passion and commitment

Finding great people who are committed to their work and contribute to a positive workplace culture isn’t always easy.

While people who are fully qualified or even over-qualified may seem like the best fit on paper, they may not always translate to outstanding staff. Recruiters are increasingly viewing soft skills in critical thinking, communication, problem-solving, leadership and teamwork in high regard.

While “hard” skills gaps can be addressed by the organisation through training, it’s almost impossible to foster a true passion for making a difference in your staff. At Catalyst, our organisations’ courses incorporate self-reflection and foster growth of soft skills throughout the training journey.

Well-developed soft skills along with caring and compassionate natures — those people who find meaning in supporting others ­— will more likely make better long-term employee. Plus, you can support them to upskill their formal training and meet their individual goals.

Focus on workplace culture

A positive and supportive workplace culture is something that all employers can take an active role in creating – and it starts from a management level. Senior staff should feel supported and motivated to be their best, and in turn, model good behaviour that influences their team and their team’s team (depending on the size of the organisation!).

A good workplace culture exists when there’s a clear vision, people feel safe and respected and where hard work and career fulfilment are regarded in equal regard.

While maintaining a positive workplace culture has never been more challenging than in our pandemic-impacted world, it’s also never been more important for attracting and retaining staff.

Take action and enhance your workforce

With a significant shortage of staff in both child care and aged care sectors, small businesses and senior management in larger ones, have a great opportunity to entice high quality workers to join their organisations and stay in them.

Training, upskilling, a fresh approach to recruitment and harnessing a positive workplace culture can all make a big impact.

Catalyst delivers leading education in child care and aged care across Australia. For more information about working with us and helping your workforce reach its full potential, get in touch today.

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