New Zealand care and support providers face severe workforce pressures exacerbated by COVID-19
are encouraging more New Zealanders to consider a career in the sector.
Care and support staff shortages affect health and social service providers
spectrum, including mental health and addictions, social support, child and youth support, disability,
at home and in the community, and care for the elderly.
Dr Claire Achmad, Chief Executive of Social Service Providers Aotearoa (SSPA), says the wider impact of the pandemic is also impacting the wellbeing of children, rangatahi, families and whānau and that the need for support has never been greater.
“It is clear that COVID-19 will continue to impact our communities for some time to come and our
community social services need a diverse and highly engaged workforce to meet the demands ahead.
“For anyone who wants to make a real difference in the lives of others in a very active and committed way,
working in social service support roles can be deeply fulfilling.
Help raise awareness of the many rewarding career paths in health and wellness
sector, the Higher Education Commission’s COVID-19 Response Fund has extended funding for the
The Life Changing Careers campaign launched in 2021 will continue in 2022.
New Zealand Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace said while COVID-19 has led to unprecedented labor shortages, the sector has also been a mainstay in protecting the most vulnerable older citizens and reducing the burden on the public health system.
“Having a strong, capable and skilled workforce is imperative if suppliers are to continue operating
and provide high quality care to over 35,000 nursing home residents across the
“Now, with the increasing volume and complexity of the services we provide, there is more
opportunities for people to enter the sector, and in cases such as the progress of health assistants
through training pathways to acquire more advanced skills, including leadership.
Graeme Titcombe, CEO of the Home and Community Health Association (HCHA), explains the campaign
had started to make a difference in 2021 with more inquiries from potential employees and successes
recruit a more diverse workforce.
“However, with the impact of COVID-19, labor shortages have worsened. This means that many people in need of help at home could not get it when they needed it and either had to go to hospital or not be able to leave the hospital and return home.
“By working in the community health sector, you help people to live independently in their own
houses. It is a rewarding and active role where you engage with people of all ages and abilities,
including those in need of rehabilitation support. Indeed, for anyone interested in a career in the healthcare field, it is
offers genuine qualifying pathways to the healthcare system.
Memo Musa, chief executive of Platform Trust, the leading organization for non-governmental and community providers of mental health and addictions services, says the sector depends on a diverse workforce that reflects people’s demographics. in need of mental health and addictions support.
“We are particularly looking for young Maori, Pacific and Asian people, including those who have lived
mental health and addiction experience. You will be supported to acquire qualifications and
you will earn by learning to work alongside other professionals to help people achieve their goals.
Peter Reynolds, chief executive of the New Zealand Disability Support Network (NZDSN), says COVID-
19 has had a significant impact on people with disabilities and how the sector responds to their needs.
“Around a quarter of New Zealanders identify as disabled. To ensure they have more choices and
control where and how they are supported, we need disability support workers who are flexible,
knowledgeable and receptive to on-the-job training with a diversity reflecting those in need of support.
“Right now, there are significant opportunities for young people and men, especially
Māori and Pasifika, and people with lived experience of disability to become support workers and
really start to make a difference.
Jane Wenman, chief executive of Careerforce, the industry training body that runs life
The Changing Careers campaign on behalf of the sector says compensation for care and support roles has improved significantly following the landmark 2017 caregiver pay equity settlement.
“While waiting for their qualifications and tenure, care and support workers can earn much more than
current minimum wage, while undergoing on-the-job training with opportunities to further develop their
“Currently, more than 2,600 care or support roles are available on Seek. These are openings for
rewarding career opportunities ranging from working with at-risk children, youth and whānau to supporting people with mental health and addictions issues, disabilities, community health and elder care.
“Whether you are looking for a new career path that better aligns with your values in life or you are a
bachelor wanting to ‘earn by learning’, working in the sector is an opportunity to forge
meaningful careers, supported by qualifying courses.
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