SEEK Employment Trends: spotlight on the healthcare and medical industry

Australia’s healthcare and medical industry is always open for business and the latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows that job ads for the sector are on the rise, up 11% year-on-year.

This multi-faceted industry includes vital roles such as dentists, dieticians, physiotherapists and pharmacists. Given it’s the country’s largest employing sector, accounting for more than 11% of total employment, it consequently faces many unique challenges.

The Federal Government’s 2015 Intergenerational Report shows that health expenditure per person is projected to more than double over the next 40 years and demand for nursing roles is also expected to grow in line with our aging population. Meanwhile, key healthcare occupations, such as physiotherapy, remain on the list of occupational skill shortages in Australia.

Overall growth in SEEK job ads

The latest data from SEEK Employment Trends shows an 11% increase in SEEK job ads across the healthcare and medical sector in the three-month period between March and May 2016, compared to the same time last year, with the average advertised salary sitting at $88,553. Areas that saw the greatest growth in SEEK job ads during this time include ambulance and paramedic roles, which grew by 89%; and speech therapy, which was up by 43%.

Kate McCormack, Group Executive Director, People Learning & Culture at Mercy Health, which employs more than 7000 people in health services such as acute and sub-acute hospital care, aged care, mental health programs and maternity care, says the growth in SEEK job ads across the sector is no surprise.

“Recruitment in the sector is constant,” she says. “We can train skills but recruiting for the right cultural fit is a priority. We are hands on carers – that’s what we do. It’s all about the workforce.”

Demand for nursing candidates skyrockets

Key areas of nursing saw increases in SEEK job ads. High acuity nursing was up by 36%; community, maternity and child heath nursing grew by 23%; while job ads for midwifery, neo-natal, SCN and NICU nursing roles increased by 17%.

James Scott, Executive Director of healthcare staffing and services company Medacs Global Group, says demand for nursing in Australia is strong and employers are looking for staff with a diverse range of skills. “A problem we have in rural and remote settings, for example, is that hospitals need midwives who are not only excellent at their core skill but who are also skilled in a general nursing capacity. Attracting people to remote areas is also an ongoing challenge.”

The effect the aging population has on healthcare

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that by 2040, an estimated one in five Australians will be aged over 65 and 1.2 million of them will be older than 85. This is having a direct impact on the number of roles advertised on SEEK for aged-care workers, which has the highest volume of SEEK job ads placed within the healthcare and medical industry, according to Michael Ilczynski, Managing Director of SEEK Employment.

“The aging population is having a sizeable impact on the healthcare sector. We’ve seen this demographic shift play out with the number of roles advertised on SEEK for aged care nurses increasing by 6% between March and May 2016, compared to the same time last year. This is a trend that’s only going to continue as Baby Boomers head into retirement,” says Ilczynski.

As people are living longer, they are also presenting with multiple clinical issues and this requires a greater breadth of health care. “It means the package of care they are receiving is quite complex and needs a multitude of service providers with different areas of expertise,” explains Scott.

While demand for aged-care workers is high, employers say attracting the right candidates is an ongoing battle due to low government funding. “A retail employee may earn about $20 an hour with no qualifications,” says McCormack. “When you look at carers in aged care, they’re getting about $21 an hour and they have a qualification. Trying to get a registered nurse into aged care is especially challenging because they can work in the acute care sector and earn more money because of their EBA.”

A slip in the number of employers looking for GPs, among other roles

While levels of SEEK job ads across the healthcare and medical industry have been increasing over recent months, some classifications within the sector saw a year-on-year reduction in job ads.

Despite being on Australia’s list of occupational skill shortages, SEEK job ads for optical roles were down by 4% year-on-year. Job ads for medical imaging roles were also down by 10% compared to the same time last year.

Job ads for general practitioners remained at equal volumes year-on-year and McCormack says this needs to change. “In some of our growth areas, like Werribee in Victoria, GPs are overworked and it’s just constant pressure.”

McCormack predicts the strong levels of SEEK job ads for the healthcare and medical sector will continue across the country over the next 12 months at least. “We’re a service industry. “Our doors are always open. We’re a 24/7 business.”

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