Increasingly we see a number of foreign trained workers in the aged care space. To migrants, the space is attractive as it is a growing industry with positions constantly opening up. Many positions are entry level, so even if they have not trained in that field they still generally qualify for the job. As aged care continues to be in demand, it is likely that more migrants will continue to fill these positions. Some are unhappy about having aged care employees from foreign backgrounds claiming that more can be done to encourage the local Australian population to work in this sector where as others are perfectly happy to accept them.
The reasons that the locals do not want to work in this sector are not entirely determined but are suspected to be the lower pay and the physically demanding nature of the work. Jobs in aged care (as well as child care, and the disability sector) also typically have low pay and have a high staff turnover. These traits make them unappealing, perhaps even to many foreign workers but when desperate for work, as many migrants find themselves, they will choose to work in these sectors. In many ways, aged care relies on the migrant community to fill the need.
Language barriers are often a challenge for new migrants looking for employment but aged care often offers an opportunity for them (some facilities need specific languages, others only need basic English to get by in the role). There is less competition for the jobs and is often a chance at getting into a career if they are willing to undergo training. Upwards of 65% of the aged care/community care workforce come from other parts of the world and as the demand for aged care workers is going to increase in the coming years, the actual number of migrants working in the sector is expected to grow simultaneously.
Recently, an aged care company has come under fire for its plan to intentionally look for overseas for migrants willing to work in Australian aged care facilities. Although that company may no longer be doing so, it’s important to ask why they would have thought to do so in the first place. The answer may be that the migrants are willing to do the work on the promise of having employment in Australia. The same company claimed that its rural sites prove to have labour shortages that are difficult to address and often migrants are willing to go there.
Aged care facilities have been suggesting that the visa restrictions be lighted in order to make it easier to employ foreign workers who are willing to work; others have suggested that workplaces must become places that Australians want to work, in other words, they must provide higher salaries and training opportunities. Even local government and councils argue that there is more that can be done to encourage locals to fill the jobs, saying that the people are there but they simply do not want to work at these places.
Aged care is necessary and so are the employees in the sector. Facilities are not willing to go through more effort than necessary to secure employees willing to do the job – meaning willing migrants are the first in the door.