Healthcare is Australia’s largest and fastest growing industry and it employs more than 1.5 million people. The last decade has seen the healthcare industry overtake retail as Australia’s largest employer and it continues to grow (see graphs). By 2022, it is projected that the sector will add another 250,000 jobs to the employment landscape. Formal education is important if you want to work in healthcare, and occupations such as nurses and doctors require a university degree, while child carers and aged care workers need a VET certificate or diploma.
Data from the latest census shows there has been an increase of more than three per cent in people aged over 60 years. By 2040, it is estimated that one in five Australians will be aged over 65, with 1.2 million older than 85. Australia’s population is aging in large numbers, like other developed countries, as the ‘baby boomer’ generation enters retirement and old age.
Lower fertility rates and longer life expectancies are also playing a part in the healthcare boom, increasing the pressure on hospitals and driving an insatiable demand for professionals across the entire industry.
The influence of technology
The healthcare industry has always been at the cutting edge of technology. The internet has given almost everyone the ability to research their symptoms and diagnose themselves. From websites that act as simple repositories of knowledge, to today’s innumerable apps on offer for smartphones for both medical professionals and patients, technology has shaped the way healthcare is viewed and delivered.
Advances in technology have also made it possible to track trends through search engine queries and traffic, while building a historical database that can be used to predict future trends. Behind the scenes, technology has reshaped administration. Communication advancements have shrunk the globe, making it possible for doctors to reach one another regardless of distance. This has enabled research to be shared and reviewed more quickly, further increasing the speed of advancement.
Healthcare is also preventative and devices such as the Apple Watch and FitBits have transformed the exercise market. People have more information than ever before, which presents unique challenges for the healthcare industry.