Janet Schipke
Janet Schipke

The Wide Bay industry that will grow by 10% in next 5 years

JOB opportunities in the Gympie health industry are on the rise, with the health and social assistance sector forecast to grow by 10.5 per cent in Wide Bay and 19.8 per cent on the Sunshine Coast over the next five years.

That's according to the Australian Government Department of Jobs and Small Business, which has also projected a nation-wide growth in the demand for aged and disability carers of 39.3 per cent over the next five years.

It is this industry growth that drew Janet Schipke to enrol in a Certificate III in Individual Support at TAFE Queensland's Gympie campus last year, with the 54-year-old trading her job as an environmental scientist for a rewarding and stable career in aged care.

Val Scott will be moving into the new Jacaranda Wing building and Janice Hasthorpe (works at Allied Health at Cooinda)
Val Scott will be moving into the new Jacaranda Wing building and Janice Hasthorpe (works at Allied Health at Cooinda) Philippe Coquerand

"I was sick of ticking off boxes to cut down trees and clear land for development and I really wanted to do something more community-focussed,” Ms Schipke said.

"I knew aged care was a growth industry and I wanted to set myself up so I could have seamless employment for the next 10 years doing something I love, so I decided to return to study.”

Swapping careers was an intimidating prospect for Ms Schipke, but her decision quickly paid off. Just one month after completing her qualification, she landed a job with Japara Gympie - the same facility where she completed her vocational placement.

William (Bill) Elliott and Phyllis Elliott at Cooinda Aged Care.
William (Bill) Elliott and Phyllis Elliott at Cooinda Aged Care. Philippe Coquerand

"My job is just so rewarding and I get to work with some incredibly professional, caring and compassionate people,” she said.

"It was daunting to begin with because I'd never done this kind of work before - I'd lost my mother-in-law to dementia but that was my only experience. But I decided to commit to it and trust that I was going to be good at it, and when I did my placement it allowed me to see that I really could do it.

Jennifer Archie and Darrell Davison.
Jennifer Archie and Darrell Davison. Philippe Coquerand

"My teacher was fantastic and was able to give us a lot of insight into the industry with her own experience, and there was a lot of hands-on learning opportunities. It was a really supportive journey.”

Research published by Jobs Queensland in 2017 anticipates that 14 per cent of the Fraser Coast workforce will be employed in 'caring' positions by 2030.

TAFE Queensland Centre Director for Community Services, Health and Sport, Robyn Littlejohn said the Gympie campus worked alongside a number of local care facilities to fulfil the rising demand in the industry, with students from the Certificate III in Individual Support and the Certificate II in Health Support Services regularly undertaking vocational placements at Japara Gympie, St Vincent's Care Services Gympie and Cooinda Aged Care Centre.

Everyone enjoyed a great morning at Cooinda Aged Care on Friday.
Everyone enjoyed a great morning at Cooinda Aged Care on Friday. Philippe Coquerand

"The support of the local industry has been highly beneficial to our students, providing them with the opportunity to gain valuable practical experience,” Ms Littlejohn said.

"TAFE Queensland is dedicated to providing our students with the knowledge, skills and hands-on experience they need to succeed in their chosen field, and the strong relationships we have with industry gives them the chance to put what they've learned into practice in a real-world setting.

Gympie MP Tony Perrett uncovers a painting for Cooinda.
Gympie MP Tony Perrett uncovers a painting for Cooinda. Philippe Coquerand

"As a result our students graduate job-ready, with the majority of those actively seeking work in Gympie successfully gaining employment in the region, which is a win for both our students and the community.”

Cooinda Aged Care Centre CEO Robyn Kross said Cooinda's experience with TAFE Queensland's students had always been positive, with the facility hiring several graduates following successful placements.

"It is important for us to support TAFE Queensland and the training opportunities they offer, as they provide better qualified staff with a professional approach to care,” Ms Kross said.

Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien does an opening speech at Cooinda.
Federal Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien does an opening speech at Cooinda last week at the opening of the $13.2 million expansion. Philippe Coquerand

"These placements also provide a learning opportunity for our existing staff through exposure to students and their learnings.”

Enrolments for Semester Two are now open. To find out how you can make the most of the opportunities available in the health sector, speak with the friendly team at TAFE Queensland's Gympie campus, call 1300 308 233 or visit tafeqld.edu.au.

Jenni Chew and Marilyn Dean.
Jenni Chew and Marilyn Dean. Philippe Coquerand