Increasing demand in the helping professions

Posted May 15, 2013, by Jo Messer

The health care and social services industry is Australia’s largest employment sector, with more than 1.3 million workers (12 per cent of national employment), and over the next five years it’s expected to provide more jobs than any other industry.

Growth in this sector has resulted from increasing demand on both ends of the age spectrum. Increasing numbers of women participating in the workforce have created growing demand for child care and after-school care services, while the ageing of Australia’s population is leading to a greater need for aged and residential care services. As a result, both child care and aged care services are experiencing labour shortages.

Health care and social assistance are generally described as ‘helping professions’, and those in the industry usually have an innate desire to help others and to give something back to their community. While there has been growth across all health and community service industries, some areas have grown and continue to grow more rapidly than others. Areas with high growth include:

  • Child care occupations (early childhood teachers, pre-primary teachers, childcare workers)
  • Aged and residential carers
  • Community and personal carers
  • Social and welfare professionals (social workers, psychologists)
  • Nursing and midwifery professionals (registered and enrolled nurses)
  • Allied health/diagnostic professionals (sonographers, optometrists, occupational therapists and occupational rehabilitation therapists)
  • Education sector (including education aides and teaching professionals)

Finding work in the helping professions

While high demand in the sector greatly improves your chances of finding a job, you won’t get far without the right qualifications. There are many courses available that will give you the training to enter these professions, from certificate IIIs right through to postgraduate degrees.

The early childhood sector is growing and demand for qualified early childhood teachers and educators has never been greater. To work as a child care assistant or educator, you need to complete a Certificate III in Children’s Services, which you can upgrade to a Diploma of Children’s Services while working in the field. To qualify as a pre-school teacher, you’ll need a Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood). There are many opportunities in the sector, with possible advancement to centre director, curriculum advisor, research and management positions.

Working in the early childhood sector is a rewarding career path. Deb Roper, a kindergarten teacher at a local community kindergarten, enjoys seeing the children grow and become independent social citizens. ‘Every day is different and I love the innocence and honesty of working with children’, says Roper.

At the other end of the spectrum, there are plentiful opportunities in aged care and personal care. By 2050 we’ll need 830,000 aged care workers – that’s a whopping 272 per cent increase. To get started in this area you’ll need a Certificate III in Aged Care or a Certificate III in Home and Community Care. You can then choose to take your career further and expand on your skills by undertaking further studies at either certificate IV, diploma or bachelor degree level.

So if you’re looking for a meaningful career that gives you personal satisfaction and provides a range of career options, you can’t go past the job opportunities in the helping professions!

To qualify for a career in health care, community services, aged care, children’s services or education, see our range of online courses

Jo Messer

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