China’s Most Elderly Province Expands Subsidies for Graduate Elderly Care Workers
Faced with a shortfall of elderly care professionals, the Chinese province with the most silver-haired residents is expanding subsidies for graduates to work in elderly care, highlighting the pressures faced by officials around the country to deal with an aging population.
The northeastern Liaoning province announced Monday that graduates can receive a subsidy of up to 60,000 yuan ($8,397) if they have worked continuously for one year at a registered elderly care center since 2015.
The final amount will depend on the recipient’s education level and local rules. The move expands the subsidy program introduced in 2018, which only applied to graduates who had worked in elderly care for five years and studied degrees directly related to elderly care.
The latest policy more than triples the number of eligible degrees, with no degree requirements for graduates with a master’s degree or above. New eligible degrees include public relations and counseling.
Liaoning ranks first in the country for residents aged 65 and above with 7.4 million, or 17.4% of the province’s population, 3.9% higher than the national level, according to the seventh national census conducted in 2020.
To cope with its aging population, provincial authorities have sought to build up elderly care facilities in recent years. However, there is still a significant shortfall in qualified elderly care workers.
According to official data, as of 2022, there were 2,165 elderly care institutions and 25,000 employees in the province, or roughly one elderly care worker for every 296 residents aged 65 and above.
Shortfalls of elderly care workers are not limited to China’s rust belt provinces such as Liaoning. Rich megacities including Shanghai have also introduced subsidies to increase supply of care workers, providing payments of up to 40,000 yuan.
According to the China Research Center on Aging, there are only around 500,000 elderly care workers in the country, far fewer than the estimated 6 million workers needed to meet demand.
While subsidies are attractive, they are not enough to attract young people to work in the industry, said Zhang Xiaoqin, a 43-year-old elderly care worker in Shanghai.
“Elderly care workers are not seen as a professional group … but rather a mobile workforce,” said Zhang, adding that social stigmas surrounding working with elderly people and a lack of career advancement opportunities are also discouraging young people from joining the industry.
(Header image: Xu Changliang/IC)