Current labour market rating No Shortage
Previous labour market rating (Jan 2015) No Shortage
Despite a recent tightening in the labour market for dentists, advertised vacancies attract an average of three suitable applicants each and employers are generally able to fill vacancies across a broad range of seniority levels.
The Survey of Employers who Recently Advertised (SERA) was conducted for the occupation of Dentist in June 2016.1
Most surveyed vacancies were for owner-operated private dentistry practices, with the remainder for chain providers of dental services and a small number of community health centres.
Vacancies were fairly evenly distributed between metropolitan and regional areas.
All employers sought qualified dentists registered with the Dental Board of Australia.
While most employers required dentists with general dentistry experience, some sought experience in particular areas such as dental implants, oral surgery or endodontics.
Employers generally sought experienced dentists (usually between two to five years) but the length or type of experience varied depending on the role.
For more senior positions, and rural practices where the ability to work autonomously was essential, a minimum of three years clinical experience was considered necessary.
A small number of vacancies were suitable for recent graduates.
Surveyed employers filled 68 per cent of their vacancies
, a decline from 77 per cent in 2015 and 85 per cent in 2014 (Figure 1).
Applicant numbers were down compared with 2015 but most employers attracted multiple suitable applicants.
There were 16.6 applicants, on average, per vacancy (compared with 29.7 in 2015), of whom 3.1 were considered suitable (down from 7.7).
Around one-third of vacancies attracted between 20 and 50 applicants. These advertisements were for junior roles or did not specify the length of experience sought.
Several employers commented on the large number of recent graduates and overseas-trained dentists who applied for their vacancies.
Figure 1: Proportion of vacancies filled (%), average number of applicants and suitable applicants per vacancy (no.), Dentist, Australia, 2007 to 2016
Source: Department of Employment, Survey of Employers who have Recently Advertised (SERA)
There was little difference in the recruitment experience of regional and metropolitan employers.
Regional employers filled 67 per cent of their vacancies, compared with 69 per cent for metropolitan employers.
Regional employers attracted an average of 16.1 applicants per vacancy, compared with 17.1 for metropolitan employers.
Two-thirds of the vacancies that remained unfilled after advertising attracted at least one suitable applicant. The main reasons such vacancies remained unfilled were that suitable applicants
were considered capable of doing the job, but not of meeting the rigorous standards required by the practice
could not reach an agreement with the employer on working hours and conditions
secured other employment
decided not to relocate to take up the position.
All surveyed vacancies attracted multiple qualified applicants. Less than 20 per cent of these applicants, however, were identified by employers as being suitable.
The main reason cited by employers for the unsuitability of qualified applicants was a lack of clinical experience, either in general dentistry or in a particular aspect of dentistry. Other reasons included a poor job application, inadequate communication skills and unsatisfactory work history.
There were 16,211 registered dentists in Australia in March 2016, an increase of 14 per cent since March 2012.2
The Department of Employment’s Internet Vacancy Index (IVI) shows a strong increase in vacancies for dentists over the past three years to reach a series peak in the year to June 2016.3 It should be noted that a substantial number of vacancies are advertised on the Australian Dental Association website and are not captured by the IVI.
There has been strong growth in award course completions that lead to provisional registration as a dental practitioner in recent years.
Completions increased more than threefold between 2007 and 2013 to around 600 but dropped to 540 in 2014 (most recent data available).4
The full-time employment outcome for new bachelor degree graduates in dentistry was 86.7 per cent in 2015, well above the average for all bachelor degree graduates (68.8 per cent). 5
The full-time employment outcome for dentistry students improved in 2015 (up by 7.1 percentage points compared with 2014) but was below the outcome for 2006 (97.3 per cent).6
Other indicators and issues
In August 2013, the Australian Government introduced the Dental Relocation and Infrastructure Support Scheme (DRISS). The scheme aims to assist and encourage dentists to relocate to remote areas by providing grants to alleviate costs associated with setting up dental practices in these areas.7