A new survey has found the aged care, disability and health sectors are the number one industry young Australians want to work in.
Is there a silver-lining to the COVID crisis?
Skillsroad, an initiative of Business Australia aimed at helping school leavers transition into work, surveyed of over 5,000 youth and found 24 per cent of respondents planned to work in healthcare, with COVID believed to be a driving force behind some of their career ambitions.
The second most popular industry was education and training (12 per cent) and professional services (11 per cent).
“During the pandemic, we’ve seen some of these health sectors ‘up in lights’ which you could call the rock-star effect,” says says Business NSW Chief Executive Daniel Hunter. “Seeing high-profile people like Dr Kerry Chant I think attracts people into the industry.”
Hunter says that the Skillsroad survey findings bring hope to the aged care, disability and health sectors, which have been struggling under the weight of staffing shortages and pandemic burnout.
“There’s a high labour shortage in healthcare and young people are attracted to industries that are stable with better long-term career prospects and promotion opportunities,” he says. “It’s an attractive industry because it also has meaning as you are helping people in their time of need and young people are looking for that sense of purpose in their careers.”
Employment anxiety following home learning
The Skillsroad Youth Survey surveyed 5,012 young people between November and December 2021. More than 75 per cent of survey respondents were aged 20 or younger.
Responses revealed recent school leavers are feeling the effects from last year’s online learning. Almost eight out of ten respondents believe they were under prepared as a result of home learning. Seven out of ten are now anxious about their employment prospects and nearly half of all respondents were not confident they could get a job in their industry of choice.
“Mental health issues in young people have been prevalent during the pandemic with many losing their confidence,” Hunter says.
A survey conducted for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age released earlier this week found a similar poor outlook for teen mental health. One in four young Australians thought about suicide over the past two years and 15 per cent attempted self-harm, according to the poll of 16- to 24-year-olds. Eighty-two per cent said they had experienced mental health issues during COVID-19.
Respondents to the Skillshare survey who weren’t currently working blamed their mental health as the number one reason.
Wellbeing across every age
It’s not just youth mental health that was highlighted during COVID. The wellbeing of the elderly was also of paramount concern and this made more young people aware of aged care. As a result many are training for jobs in the aged care, disability and health sectors.
Sydneysider Mercades, 20 (pictured above) is currently undertaking a Certificate 3 in aged care. She knows it’s an industry she’ll always have a secure job in.
“I started caring for my nan when I was 14-years-old and ended up moving in with her when she got really sick,” says Mercades. “She always encouraged me to go into nursing and it’s something I’m proud of as it’s a way of honouring her memory.”
Mercades is currently working as a carer in a residential care centre. She says she loves the variety of the job as the residents are so interesting.
“I’ve always had a really soft side for the elderly,” Mercades explains. “Every day is different and they always have a story and something interesting to share.”