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Work in Australia: The quiet boom of health and social care

by Dominic 14/11/2012 16:00:00

Health and social care jobs in Australia

As many as one in seven workers in some
Australian states work in the health and
social care industries.

While the mining and resources sector which has fuelled economic growth in the country over the past two years continues to make headlines, the latest census data shows jobs in healthcare and social assistance now account for more work in Australia than any other occupation category.

The data shows that one in nine workers - rising to one in seven in some states - is employed in health and social assistance, compared to just one in 50 for the mining and resources industry. The health and social assistance categories include hospital workers, aged care and child care, medical and allied health services as well as community health centre workers.

Unlike other dominant categories such as the services and manufacturing sectors, the census data shows the majority - almost 75% - of the 1.2 million people employed in the health and social services sector were educated beyond high school level.

The rise in the health and social services industry is a result of the governing Labor Party policies combined with an aging population, increasing national income averages and a better quality of life.

Since Kevin Rudd's Labor Party won election in 2007, approximately 300,000 jobs in the healthcare sector alone have been created with the census showing the two fastest growing occupations as personal carers and assistants and child carers, up 33% and 32% respectively.

Health expenditure in Australia has risen from 4.5% of gross domestic product in 1971 to 10% today and with an ageing population as the baby boomer generation approaches retirement age combined with an ever extending life expectancy - currently increase at a rate of three weeks per year - governmental research expected healthcare expenditure to reach almost 20% of GDP by the middle of this century, yielding even more jobs in health and social care occupations.

So what does this mean for people wanting to move to Australia?

Leonie Cotton, casework manager at the Australian Visa Bureau, says the rising trends in the healthcare and associated industries are unsurprising given certain characteristics of Australia as a nation:

"The rise in the healthcare industry, although typically underrepresented in the media, is an expected trend in a country renowned for having a high quality of life and a relatively active population," said Ms Cotton.

Ms Cotton says it's an unfortunate reality that the mining and resources industry have dominated headlines so thoroughly as much of the opportunities advertised for people wanting to move to Australia is skewed towards a misrepresentation.

"At the height of the mining boom a couple of years ago, sheer manpower, let alone skilled workers, was in such demand that truck drivers in some remote areas could command six figure salaries.

"Yet despite the well publicised stabilising of the mining and resources industries, we have found job advertisements and curious clients still intent on finding work for these industries while skills shortages grow in bigger, and wider spread industries.

"The mining boom was centred in Western Australia with many projects in remote, rural areas whereas the healthcare and social care industries are spread evenly throughout the country and will present much more preferable conditions for Australia visa applicants in the future."


- Dominic Ladden-Powell is the Online Editor for the Australian Visa Bureau.

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