A new report by KPMG has identified strong demand for aged care training in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America that aligns with the capacity of Australian RTOs.

The report commissioned by the Commonwealth Education Minister, Simon Birmingham, identified a breadth of opportunity for Australian providers to deliver aged care and health services training in India, Sri Lanka, Saudi Arabia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, Brazil, China, Thailand, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.

The demand for expertise in care and services comes in the forms of both regularly reform and up-skilling of workers, management and trainers.

Over the last year a number of aged care providers have announced partnerships with or acquisitions of RTOs, identifying both the commercial opportunities and workforce pipeline they present.

However, the current approach to workforce training is proving to be a double-edged sword.

Despite the opportunities it can present in overseas markets, local experts say drastic changes are needed to workforce training in aged care to broaden – rather than narrow – skills and knowledge.

Vocational education ­researcher Dr Leesa Wheelahan says greater focus should be given to developing the person rather than meeting competency-based goals, and the existing VET model and training packages should be dumped.

In a seminar at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education earlier this month Dr Wheelahan said the current approach to training has led to fragmented knowledge, ‘routinized’ job descriptions and automisation of skills.

“Instead of preparing people for mental healthcare, aged care, disability care, drug and alcohol care, we focus on preparing care workers. The curriculum would seek to develop the capacity of the person, rather than focusing on particular skills,” she said.

She believes broader vocational streams in general fields of practice would better equip both students and employers to meet the changing needs of the broader community.

She said VET has failed to align training with occupations and the opening of training markets has diluted, rather than enhanced, education.