Impacts of COVID-19 on the Health Industry: National Industry Insights Report

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

The data and information contained in the Australian Industry and Skills Committee’s (AISC) National Industry Insights Report (NIIR) is updated every year to ensure it remains relevant, and presents customised analysis of Australian skills needs, training patterns, and economic and employment trends. It is divided into two main sections: the National Skills Overview and specific industry cluster pages.

The 2020-21 update period is underway, and some industry cluster pages now offer data and information on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Health Industry page is just one of these and comprises a number of industry sectors including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers, and Ambulance and Paramedic.

Australia’s response to COVID-19 has shown how essential our healthcare workforce and providers are in caring for all Australians, including our most vulnerable. While the pandemic itself is yet to subside, our healthcare workforce has already been impacted in different ways. Social distancing restrictions required some industries to close, particularly in Complementary Health, while other health and health-related services continued to operate and even expand. Nevertheless, all healthcare workers have had to adapt in some form or another.

The rapid rise in telehealth services presents new opportunities to broaden the accessibility, availability and awareness of mental health services and support in the community. However, these opportunities also present some challenges. Strong communication skills are required to maximise the effectiveness of remote consultations and practitioners may also need to work on ensuring their ‘webside’ or ‘screenside manner’ comes across to patients. Likewise, patients must also be able to effectively understand, navigate and troubleshoot different digital platforms used for telehealth services.

COVID-19 has also highlighted other challenges such as the highly-casualised workforce in some sectors, and the need for greater focus on training and access to personal protective equipment for many health worker groups. Cybersecurity is also an important issue, particularly for Australia’s health sector which accounted for 22% of all data breaches between July and December 2019, the highest reporting sector in Australia. More broadly, with the release of the National Digital Health Workforce and Education Roadmap the Australian Government has stated that the digital transformation of health services can only occur with a skilled, digitally capable workforce.

For further information about COVID-19 in a specific healthcare industry, please see the Health industry sector pages.

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The NIIR website has been developed for the AISC by the National Centre for Vocational Education Research (NCVER). It brings together data, along with industry intelligence and other information, to assist Industry Reference Committees (IRCs) in the design and development of training packages that meet industry needs, now and into the future.

Follow @NCVER on Twitter to keep informed of which industry pages on the NIIR website are being updated and when.