7 Sep 2018

Pacific the solution for aged care in Australia and NZ - World Bank

6:32 pm on 7 September 2018

The World Bank says a severe shortage of aged care workers that is looming in Australia and New Zealand could be solved by welcoming more skilled employees from Pacific countries.

The bank has released a report on expected labour requirements and how the Pacific could be the answer to filling significant gaps in the aged care sector.

A care worker pushes an elderly woman in a rest home out for fresh air.

Photo: 123RF

World Bank social protection economist Jesse Doyle said with longer life expectancies in Australia and New Zealand there will be a large elderly population that would need to be cared for.

"In Australia in 2015 there were over 366,000 paid employees working in aged care. By 2050 it's estiamted that there will need to be between 830,000 to 1.3 million employees to support over three million people in aged care," Mr Doyle said.

He said in contrast, the Pacific had a large youth population with high unemployment issues, which made expanded labour schemes an obvious solution.

"A very high fertility rate, what could be considered a youth bulge, so lots of young people entering the labour market and without the ability to find the jobs that they need often at times in the Pacific islands, particularly in more rural and remote areas," Mr Doyle said.

Mr Doyle said much-needed training initiatives have been launched in Tonga and Samoa.