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More lateral entrants and men in care

15 March 2023 Ellen Van Grunderbeek Employers

These are challenging times for the healthcare sector. On the one hand, the demand for healthcare profiles is rising due to an ageing society, while on the other hand, filling existing vacancies is already a struggle. But hope is on the horizon: an analysis by Acerta of 800 healthcare institutions reveals that more and more lateral entrants as well as men are choosing jobs in care.

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Concerns in a tight labour market

An ageing population means we are living longer and the need for complex care services is increasing. At the same time, the sector is struggling with staff shortages and absences. The healthcare sector is eager for new employees, but the number of hard-to-fill vacancies is on the raise.

More – and qualified – healthcare staff are therefore imperative. There is huge potential in attracting what are known as lateral entrants: people from other sectors who take care and welfare-oriented training to then transfer to a healthcare institution, or take the training when they join the care employer.

Lateral entrants raising average age of new entrants

Efforts to recruit lateral entrants are beginning to bear fruit. For instance, the average age of new employees in healthcare has risen from 37 years to 39.5 years in the last five years. In the age categories 36 to 45 and 46 to 55, the number of entrants was up by just over 8% last year. This was even 55.8% among 56- to 65-year-olds, although these are lower absolute numbers.

Covid19 has made more people re-evaluate their future and further careers. However, this positive evolution is also due to the efforts made by the government, which has created additional financial incentives, such as more attractive remuneration and barrier-reducing measures to enter the sector.

Fewer recent graduates

Another explanation for the rising average age of new staff is the extension of the bachelor’s degree for nurses. As a result, recent graduates automatically enter the workforce later. This might be enhanced by the trend of some students taking longer to complete their education pathways.

We therefore see a decline among both 25-year-olds (-16.9%) and 26-35-year-olds (-5.9%). The latter group still represents the largest group at 33% of the total number of entrants, followed by 36-45-year-olds (23.3%) and -25-year-olds (19.4%).

Presumably, more recent graduates will again enter the healthcare sector in the next few years. After all, figures indicate that enrolments in healthcare courses are on the rise.

More men in care

Nursing is up there at the top of the VDAB hit parade of bottleneck occupations. Knowing that healthcare is an eminently female field, one solution is already obvious: getting men excited about a future in healthcare. They are still under-represented in the sector.

Fortunately, more and more men are making their way into a care profession. At the end of 2022, 1.6% of entrants were men – marking an increase of 8.16% on 2021. This puts their share at its highest level in five years.

Make the sector even more attractive

Long working hours, a lot of physical labour and relatively low pay – a major concern remains the image of the healthcare sector. Young people don’t immediately find healthcare institutions the most attractive employers. This perception is also prevalent among employees from other sectors.

Despite previous investments and efforts, wage and working conditions in healthcare need to be even more competitive with other sectors. Healthcare institutions recognised by the government in particular, feel hampered when it comes to remuneration. After all, they are highly subsidised and regulated. Yet – even with limited resources – there are alternatives available to make the sector more attractive. You can support work-life balance by allowing employees to work in the region or offer self-direction in making hourly schedules. An HR policy that applies the ABC model can also make the sector even more attractive.

Applying ABC model in healthcare

Of course, remuneration is not the only answer to staff shortages in the sector. The shortage and increasing demand for more complex care also mean that the pressure on staff is increasing. Therefore, it is certainly as important to invest in more flexibilitytrainingtalent development, better work-life balance

The ABC (Autonomy, Engagement and Competence) approach has repeatedly proven its effectiveness in other sectors, so why not extend this model to healthcare? Employers who venture to look beyond the financial and practical picture can motivate even more people to choose a care profession.

A motivating HR policy with ABC

Whether it concerns remuneration, job content or mobility: if you respond to people’s basic needs, you can find and retain employees in your organisation. Acerta’s experts will help you make the leap into practice.

Contact us

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Written by Ellen Van Grunderbeek

Legal advisor at Acerta

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