Health Skills Shortage: An Imminent Catastrophe

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We have all heard about skill shortages but the one skill shortage that is going to affect us the most is a shortage of qualified health professionals in our regional hospitals, especially in the Northern Rivers.

NSW Business Chamber at a recent Sydney health conference raised the seriousness of this issue. There is also the troubling prospect of how the ageing of our working population will effectively put an overwhelming strain on the health sector over the next decade.

If you think we have skill shortages now – you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Our region has currently 44% of its workforce aged over 45 and without a major population influx, we can expect a prolonged period of skills shortage. The shortage is most pronounced in the health and community services sector for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the ageing of the population will mean there is increased demand for workers in this sector. The gap between supply and demand is going to worsen because demand for health services is going to dramatically rise in coming years.

Secondly, this is a sector that has a pronounced exposure to skill losses due to the age of its workforce. According to the Productivity Commission, 441,700 workers in the health and community sectors are over the age of 45.

With increasing pressure being placed on health care workers much more will need to be done to prevent the health system going into permanent meltdown.

NSW Business Chamber believes this can be accomplished by reviewing how we structure training and finding ways of making the workforce more attractive for those leaving or considering leaving.

These are difficult issues and present a major challenge for all health and community service organisations. The organisations that will flourish will be those who best manage their people.
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