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First Aid

Overview

This page provides information and data on First Aid training, which is one component of the Health industry.

First Aid is the immediate treatment or care provided to a person suffering from an injury or illness until more advanced care is given, or the person recovers.

Australia has seen increases in illnesses and conditions (such as cardiovascular disease, mental and behavioural conditions, diabetes and allergies) and an increase in the number of serious injuries in the workplace. The growing pervasiveness of these illnesses, conditions and accidents among the Australian population requires individuals to be equipped with the skills to respond. First Aid prepares individuals with the fundamental skills to provide the required support before medical assistance arrives. The application of First Aid can reduce and/or prevent hospitalisation, requirement for treatment/s and potential long-term health implications.

Hundreds of thousands of people complete First Aid training every year, whether it be for personal development (for example, a parent), or to meet job role specifications or Work Health & Safety (WHS) requirements.

First Aid is applicable across all industry areas. By legislation, all organisations in Australia have jurisdictional obligations regarding Work Health and Safety or Occupational Health and Safety. First Aid training requirements differ across industries as well as jurisdictions. Some industries require specific competencies. For example, in early childhood education and care, workers are required to be trained in anaphylaxis (HLTAID004 - Provide an emergency first aid response in an education and care setting).

There are no vocational education and training (VET) qualifications in this sector. The First Aid Industry Reference Committee (IRC) has responsibility for eight units of competency and a First Aid Skill Set, packaged in the HLT – Health Training Package, which are specifically designed to meet First Aid requirements in Australia. These units of competency are used across almost every Training Package on the national register. The units of competency are:

  • HLTAID009 – Perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • HLTAID010 – Provide basic emergency life support
  • HLTAID011 – Provide First Aid
  • HLTAID012 – Provide First Aide in an education and care setting
  • HLTAID013 – Provide First Aid in remote or isolated site
  • HLTAID014 – Provide advanced First Aid
  • HLTAID015 – Provide advanced resuscitation and oxygen therapy
  • HLTAID016 – Manage First Aid services and resources

The First Aid Skill Set is HLTSS00068.

For information on other health-related training and employment, visit the Health industry page and the various sectors.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

Training trends

Training snapshot

The number of First Aid subject enrolments grew steadily between 2016 and 2019, before a drop in 2020 to approximately 3,031,100. Most of these enrolments (91%) were subjects delivered that are not part of a nationally recognised program.

For those subject enrolments which are part of a qualification, the top four Training Packages are Community Services (32%), Sport and Fitness and Recreation (25%), Health (17%) and Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management (5%). Combined they account almost 80% of First Aid subject enrolments undertaken as part of a qualification.

The two First Aid units of competency with the highest number of subject enrolments are:

  • HLTAID001 - Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation, with just over 1,345,670 subject enrolments
  • HLTAID003 - Provide first aid, with just under 930,740 subject enrolments.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of the First Aid training is delivered by private training providers, followed by community education providers (22%). Overall, most of First Aid training (96%) is domestic fee for service, although the proportions vary depending on provider type. Students from New South Wales accounted for 26% of the training, followed by students from Queensland (25%) and Victoria (18%).

For more data specific to your occupation, industry group or training package, visit NCVER’s Data Builder.

For more data specific to your region please visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, please sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

 

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The First Aid IRC’s Skills Forecast – 2020 Update (hereafter the 2020 Annual Update) identified the top five short-to-medium term skills considered extremely important across the workforce involved in administering first aid include problem solving and critical thinking, communication, teamwork, capacity to learn, and digital skills.

According to the job vacancy data, the top occupations seeking First Aid skills are:

  • Early Childhood (Pre-primary School) Teachers
  • Child Carers
  • Aged and Disabled Carers
  • Receptionists
  • Welfare Support Workers.

Many of the workforce challenges and developments raised in the First Aid IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast continue to be significant issues. Those identified in the 2020 Annual Update, as well as COVID-19 (further information below) are the variations legislative requirements and shortage of skilled staff. There are summarised below.

Variations in state/territory legislative requirements

At the national level, Safe Work Australia sets workplace requirements with the First Aid in the Workplace Code of Practice. However, the regulation of Work Health and Safety practices occurs at the state and territory level. As such, there are variations in requirements from one jurisdiction to another. While the First Aid Training Package Products aim to encompass these differing requirements across jurisdictions, some employers find it difficult to determine the appropriate qualification or skill set required for their organisation to comply with the Safe Work Australia Code, according to the 2020 Annual Update.

It is also reported that legislation pertaining to the amount of training required and the need to keep skills up to date can be cumbersome, time consuming and costly for employers, with further confusion arising from differences in requirements in different jurisdictions and across organisation types.

Indeed, the requirement to maintain skills and undertake ‘refresher’ programs appears to drive enrolments in VET subjects. The NCVER report An analysis of enrolments in ‘micro-credentials’ in VET (whose subjects not part of a nationally recognised program) shows that first aid and related subjects (cardiopulmonary resuscitation, for example) are the top two most undertaken ‘subject bundles’.

Shortage of skilled staff

The 2020 Annual Update reports that a lack of qualified staff is one of the challenges faced by administering first aid in the workplace, with difficulties in recruiting and retaining staff who have the required skills and knowledge. In many cases, the ability to administer first aid is in addition to the employee’s primary role and this may lead to an increased or heavy workload. It may also require employees to be flexible and to be able to undertake different types of work as it arises. Further, changes in first aid compliance requirements and increases in record keeping have increased the time required for first aid duties, also increasing the workload of these staff members.

COVID-19 impact

The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions and increased concerns regarding infection control and sterilisation procedures have impacted first aid training significantly during 2020. As such, the AISC, through its COVID-19 Emergency Response Sub-Committee, has advised of key requirements to registered training organisations (RTOs) that deliver first aid training, including:

  • Undertaking a risk assessment as to whether the training is urgent and essential
  • Following Australian Government advice regarding social distancing, personal hygiene and isolating requirements. This includes delivery of face-to-face training to ensure there is ample space in the classroom between individuals
  • Not allowing student to breathe directly into a manikin. Rather, RTOs are to assess students performing breathes to the side of the manikin
  • Checking relevant jurisdictional health authority’s advice for any additional requirements for their location.

COVID-19 has severely disrupted businesses including those delivering first aid training according to an NCVER study, which explored the impact of COVID-19 on industry innovation, skills and the need for training. Businesses reported that they experienced significant periods of time where normal activities were suspended, with some taking advantage of this time to update websites and train staff (internally) on the use of new, online systems.

For consumers, the move to online training appears to be time- and cost effective. For example, a registered training organisation (RTO) converted part of a first aid course for dental and general practices to online delivery. Consequently, the training time that practices were closed reduced to three hours from the previous five hours.

Links and resources

Data sources and notes

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following units of competency:

  • HLTAID001 and HLTAID009 - Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation
  • HLTAID002 and HLTAID010 - Provide basic emergency life support
  • HLTAID003 and HLTAID011 - Provide first aid
  • HLTAID004 - Provide an emergency first aid response in an education and care setting
  • HLTAID005 - Provide first aid in remote situations
  • HLTAID006 - Provide advanced first aid
  • HLTAID007 - Provide advanced resuscitation
  • HLTAID008 - Manage first aid services and resources
  • HLTAID012 - Provide First Aid in an education and care setting
  • HLTAID013 - Provide First Aid in remote or isolated site
  • HLTAID014 - Provide Advanced First Aid
  • HLTAID015 - Provide advanced resuscitation and oxygen therapy
  • HLTAID016 - Manage first aid services and resources.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2016 to 2020 subject enrolments.

 

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2021, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested occupations according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2018 and June 2021 filtered by skills listed below.

Skills have been used as industry filters because they provide more relevant job vacancy data for this sector.

  • Generic skills / Occupations / Employers
    • First Aid.
Updated: 08 Nov 2021
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