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Will I get a job?

Health industry employment overview

Health Care and Social Assistance has been the fastest growing sector in Australia in the 5 years to November 2017:

  • Accounted for 25% of all new jobs, with 301,600 new jobs being created

Health Care and Social Assistance is predicted to be the fastest growing sector in the 5 years to May 2023:

  • Projected growth of 27.9% of all new jobs, with an estimated 250,300 to be created

However, growth of the entire sector does not mean that it will be easy to find a job if you complete any health course or degree. My Health Career recommends that you do your research, and also speak with at least 3 people in the profession you are considering regarding whether there are jobs for graduates.

Government agency Health Workforce Australia was abolished in October 2014, and subsequently workforce data has become difficult to obtain for some professions.

 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners

In July 2014 Health Workforce Australia made the assessment that there were perceived maldistributions, such that there was a sufficient workforce in some areas, but shortages of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Workers and Practitioners in other areas.

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Dentistry

The number of dentistry graduates finding a full time job within 4 months of completing their university degree dropped by more than 10% between 2011 and 2012, and has made a significant recovery in 2017 and 2018.

The 2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey – Longitudinal showed that of the 2015 dentistry graduates, 88.2% were in full time employment that year, which rose to 95.9% of this same cohort being in full time jobs 3 years later in 2018.

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Dietetics

At the time of the 2011 census, of the approximately 6,200 Australians who had a dietetics qualification, only 45% stated that their occupation was a dietitian. It has been stated that “this may be a result of people choosing to work in fields unrelated to their qualification, or people unable to find employment in their chosen field.” There is some uncertainty as to why many dietitians work in other fields.

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Medicine

In 2012, the Health Workforce 2025 document stated that unless there is national reform, Australia will have a shortage of 2,700 (about 3%) doctors by 2025, suggesting there will be jobs available for doctors’ in the future in Australia.

Health Workforce 2025 also stated that the medical training pathway is poorly coordinated and that without reform, there will be insufficient postgraduate medical training places for the number of medical graduates seeking them. This creates bottlenecks for those who are in the training pathway on the way to becoming fully qualified doctors.

There are many areas of specialisation within medicine, an each area can experience a shortage or oversupply in a given geographical location at different times. In 2012, Health Workforce 2025 stated that by 2025, unless there was reform, Australia would have a shortage of specialists in the fields of obstetrics and gynaecology, ophthalmology, anatomical pathology, psychiatry, diagnostic radiology and radiation oncology.

Between 2016 and 2018 the Department of Health released reports for a number of medical specialties:

  • Anaesthetics – the data from 2016 showed a workforce in balance, with the potential to shift into oversupply if trainee numbers are increased, or if there is no decrease in the rate of International Medical Graduates commencing practise in Australia
  • Dermatology – by 2030 there it is projected that there will be an undersupply of 90 full time dermatologists, and 60 by 2025, and the training program intake would need to increase by 5.2 trainees who would do full time hours upon graduation each year from 2018 to 2025 to bring this into balance
  • Emergency Medicine – by 2030, if the intake of new trainees continues to increase at a rate of 4.4% each year, there would be an oversupply of 2,328 emergency doctors, which is approximately 102% of the required number
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology – by 2030 the estimated range is for a slight oversupply of obstetricians and gynaecologists by 2.1%, or a small shortfall of 1.5%, indicating that it’s likely for this workforce to be close to balanced
  • Ophthalmology – by 2030, if the intake of trainees grows at 3% as it has historically, there would be an undersupply of ophthalmologists; even increasing the intake of trainees by one each year there would be an undersupply of 68 ophthalmologists (5.5%) by 2030
  • Psychiatry – by 2030 there would be an undersupply of 125 psychiatrists in Australia unless the first year intake of the program was increased to 3.3% per year instead of the anticipated 2%

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Nursing

The number of registered nursing graduates finding a full time job within 4 months of completing their university degree dropped by almost 10% between 2012 and 2013. Since this time around 80% of nursing graduates have been able to find full time work directly after completion of their degree.

The 2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey – Longitudinal showed that for 2015 nursing graduates there was a 78.8% full time employment rate that year, and that 3 years later there was a full time employment rate of 92.6% of the 2015 graduates.

The Health Workforce 2025 document stated that unless there is national reform, Australia will have a shortage of 109,000 (27%) nurses by 2025, suggesting there is plenty of demand for nurses in Australia.

Traditionally, nursing graduates transition into nursing practice via a one year “transition to professional practice” program, which is usually a full-time job in a hospital where they develop their skills in a supervised environment. A lack of these positions means that it can be difficult for graduate nurses to find a job as other employers are looking for nurses with experience.

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Occupational Therapy

According to the registration data from the Occupational Therapy Board of Australia, there has been a large increase in the number of occupational therapists in Australia in recent years. The number of practising occupational therapists increased from 14,935 in December 2013 to 21,301 in December 2018.

There has also been an increase in demand for occupational therapy services with the rollout of the NDIS. However, there has been difficulty in obtaining data as to whether this means the workforce is in balance, or whether there is an oversupply or undersupply of occupational therapists. The Australian Job Outlook suggests that there will be a total of around 7,000, which equates to around 1,400 new job openings each year for occupational therapists in the 5 years to 2023.

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Optometry

Optometry Australia (formerly known as the Optometrists Association Australia) has forecast a significant oversupply of optometrists by the year 2036, but starting from 2016. Students looking at entering the course can expect a competitive jobs market on graduation.

The issue facing optometry is that three new schools of optometry have opened in Australia (Deakin University, Flinders University and the University of Canberra) so there are more optometry graduates than there were in previous years. According to the Optometrists Association Australia, as stated in the Health Workforce Australia report published in March 2014, “if the increased number of student commencements translate into greater numbers of graduates entering the workforce in the next five years, this will have impacts for the industry in terms of the availability of jobs at levels suited to graduates and early career optometrists.”

According to the Optometry Board of Australia’s data, in December 2013 there were 4559 optometrists with general registration, which grew to 5492 by December 2018.

The article ‘The Australian Optometric Workforce 2009’ showed that the number of optometrists in 2009 was ‘more than adequate to meet the needs of the community’ at that time.

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Pharmacy

According to the 2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey – Longitudinal, of those who completed undergraduate pharmacy degrees in 2015, 95.5% were in full time employment year, and 93.0% of this cohort were employed as professionals 3 years later in 2018.

According to the 2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey-Longitudinal, of those who completed postgraduate pharmacy coursework in 2015, 91.5% were employed full time in that year, and 92.4% were in full time employment 3 years later in 2018.

Statistics such as a 97.2% full time employment rate (source Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018) of graduates are often misquoted in the profession of pharmacy when this actually represents the percentage of pharmacy graduates who go on to be employed as interns in their mandatory pre-registration year before becoming a fully qualified pharmacist.

According to the Pharmacy Board of Australia, in December 2013 there were 24,867 pharmacists with general registration in Australia, which grew to 28,769 by December 2018.

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Physiotherapy

According to the Physiotherapy Board of Australia’s registration data, in December 2013 there were 24,166 physiotherapists with general registration in Australia, which grew to 31,419 by December 2018.

There has also been an increase in demand for physiotherapy services with the rollout of the NDIS. However, there has been difficulty in obtaining data as to whether this means the workforce is in balance, or whether there is an oversupply or undersupply of physiotherapists. The Australian Job Outlook suggests that there will be approximately 13,000 total, or 2,600 job openings for physiotherapists each year in the 5 years to 2023.

The 2014 Health Workforce Australia report stated that there is often a higher turnover of physiotherapists than other health professions, and that physiotherapists seeking longevity in a clinical career need to monitor and maintain their own physical health due to the demands of this work.

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Podiatry

According to the Podiatry Board of Australia, there were 3902 podiatrists with general registration in December 2013, and this grew to 5102 in December 2018. If the Health Workforce Australia prediction from 2014 was correct that demand for podiatry services would grow by 5.3% each year, the podiatry workforce is in balance with neither an undersupply or oversupply.

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Psychology

Students who have completed an accredited undergraduate degree in psychology (or arts or science majoring in psychology) need to gain entry into post-graduate study to become a registered psychologist. These post-graduate places are highly competitive, and limit the number of registered psychologists in Australia.

According to the 2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey, of those completing postgraduate coursework in psychology in 2017, 82.6% went into full time jobs and in 2018 it was 81.9%. The overall employment of those completing postgraduate coursework in psychology was 90.8% in 2017 and 92.5% in 2018.

According to the 2018 Graduate Outcomes Survey – Longitudinal the short-term full time employment rate of those completing postgraduate coursework in psychology in 2015 was 73.8% that year, and rose to 90.3% in that same cohort 3 years later in 2018.

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This page was last updated in March 2019. Please discuss this labour market data thoroughly with your careers advisor, guidance officer or career development practitioner as a part of your overall career decision. My Health Career also recommends that you speak to at least 3 different practitioners in any profession you may be considering.

This information provided by My Health Career is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances. My Health Career takes no responsibility for whether or not you choose a course or profession that is right for you.