Labour Market Research – Health Professions1



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australian government department of employment


Labour Market Research – Health Professions1

Australia 2015-16

Occupations in cluster

Rating

Number of years in shortage 5 years to 2015-16

2346-11

Medical Laboratory Scientist

No Shortage

0

2512-11

Medical Diagnostic Radiographer

No Shortage

0

2512-12

Medical Radiation Therapist

No Shortage

0

2512-14

Sonographer

Shortage

5

2514-11

Optometrist

Shortage

4

2515-11,13

Hospital and Retail Pharmacist

No Shortage

0

2523-12

Dentist

No Shortage

0

2524-11

Occupational Therapist

No Shortage

0

2525-11

Physiotherapist

Regional Shortage

2

2526-11

Podiatrist

No Shortage

0

2527-11

Audiologist

Shortage

3

2527-12

Speech Pathologist

No Shortage

0

Key results and issues


The labour market for the health professions considered in this report tightened moderately in 2015-16, with employers attracting fewer applicants and filling a slightly lower proportion of vacancies than in 2014-15.

Nevertheless, only three occupations were in national shortage and one in regional shortage in 2015-16 – a marked contrast with the situation seven years ago when the vast majority of health professions were in shortage (Figure 1).

Sonographers, optometrists and audiologists were found to be in national shortage

Physiotherapists were found to be in regional shortage in Victoria, Queensland and Tasmania and the Northern Territory.



Figure 1: Proportion of Health Professions in shortage, 2007-08 to 2015-16 (%)

Source: Department of Employment, skill shortage research. Audiologists are excluded as they were not consistently surveyed over the time period.

While employment in health professions has grown since early 2014,2 there has been a large rise in the number of people completing relevant entry-level courses in recent years.3

Employment outcomes for new graduates in relevant courses improved slightly in 2015, but graduates found it significantly more difficult to gain full-time work than they did in 2008 when graduate employment outcomes peaked.4

Employers contacted for the present research reported that recent graduates made up a large proportion of applicants for vacancies in several of the occupations assessed.

Demand for health professionals is expected to remain solid over the medium to long term due to factors such as the growth and ageing of the population, the increasing prevalence of chronic health conditions, improvements in medical technology and health care options, and the full roll out of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS)5.

Recent course commencement data suggest that the supply of new graduates will continue to grow over the short term6.

Survey results


The Survey of Employers who have Recently Advertised (SERA) was conducted for health professions in the June quarter 2016.

The labour market for the health professions tightened moderately in 2015-16. Although there was a substantial fall in the number of applicants per vacancy compared with 2014-15, there was only a slight fall in the proportion of vacancies filled and the number of suitable applicants per vacancy.

Around 69 per cent of vacancies were filled in 2015-16 (down from 71 per cent in 2014-15).

There were 6.7 applicants, on average, per vacancy, of whom 2.0 were considered by employers to be suitable (compared with 9.4 and 2.9 per vacancy, respectively, in 2014-15).

Nevertheless, the labour market has eased considerably since 2007-08, when employers filled less than half of their vacancies. The number of applicants per vacancy in 2015-16, though lower than the previous year, was more than double the 2007-08 level (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Proportion of vacancies filled (%), average number of applicants and suitable applicants per vacancy (no.), Health Professions, Australia, 2007-08 to 2015-16

Source: Department of Employment, Survey of Employers who have Recently Advertised (occupation coverage varies over the time series)

Employers reported that recent graduates made up a substantial proportion of applicants for vacancies in a number of health professions including medical laboratory scientist, radiation therapist, dentist and speech pathologist.


Regional differences


Overall, employers in regional areas experienced greater difficulty filling vacancies than those in metropolitan areas (Table 1). Nevertheless, regional vacancies attracted an average of 1.8 suitable applicants each and widespread regional shortages were only evident for physiotherapists and the occupations that were also in shortage nationally.

In 2015-16, 62 per cent of surveyed regional vacancies were filled, compared with


73 per cent in metropolitan areas.

Regional employers attracted smaller applicant fields (4.6 applicants per vacancy, on average, compared with 8.0 in metropolitan areas) and suitable applicants (1.8 compared with 2.2).



Table 1: Proportion of vacancies filled (%), average number of applicants and suitable applicants per vacancy (no.), Health Professions, by location, 2014-15 and 2015-16




Proportion of vacancies filled (%)

Average number of applicants per vacancy

Average suitable applicants per vacancy




2014-15

2015-16

2014-15

2015-16

2014-15

2015-16

Metropolitan

77

73

11.2

8.0

3.2

2.2

Regional

61

62

6.3

4.6

2.3

1.8

Australia

71

69

9.4

6.7

2.9

2.0

Source: Department of Employment, Survey of Employers who have Recently Advertised

On a state and territory basis, employers in the Northern Territory were the least successful in filling vacancies for the health professions, while those in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia had the most success (Figure 3).

Employers in New South Wales, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory had more success in filling vacancies than in 2014-15.

Figure 3: Proportion of vacancies filled (%), average number of applicants and suitable applicants per vacancy by state and territory (no.), Health Professions, 2015-16

Source: Department of Employment, Survey of Employers who have Recently Advertised

Occupational differences


Employers recruiting for medical laboratory scientists, medical radiation therapists and speech pathologists filled more than 90 per cent of their vacancies.

There were particularly large fields of applicants, qualified applicants and suitable applicants for medical laboratory scientist, dentist, medical radiation therapist and occupational therapist vacancies (Figure 4).

Employers recruiting for sonographers, optometrists and audiologists experienced the greatest difficulty filling vacancies, and these were the only health profession occupations in shortage in both metropolitan and regional areas.

Figure 4: Proportion of vacancies filled (%), average number of applicants and suitable applicants per vacancy, by occupation (no.), Health Professions, Australia, 2015-16

Source: Department of Employment, Survey of Employers who have Recently Advertised

Unsuitable applicants


While advertised vacancies for health professions attracted an average of 6.0 qualified applicants each, about one of these applicants were considered to be suitable by employers.

The most commonly cited reasons for qualified applicants being unsuitable were that they

possessed insufficient experience (this was the case for all but entry level roles and was particularly evident for senior or supervisory roles)

lacked experience in a particular specialisation.


Demand and Supply

Employment


In May 2016, there were 133,700 people employed in health professions under consideration, up by 14.7 per cent compared with May 2011 (Figure 5).7

Figure 5: Employment, assessed Health Professions, May 2006 to May 2016 ('000)

Source: ABS, Labour Force, May 2016, Department of Employment trend

Vacancy levels


Internet vacancy levels for health professions are high relative to levels for all professionals and all occupations (Figure 6).8

The number of vacancies advertised for assessed health professions increased by 53 per cent over the five years to June 2016, while the number of advertisements for all occupations declined by 21 per cent.



Figure 6: Online vacancies, assessed Health Professions, all professionals and all occupations, December 2006 to June 2016 (indexed)

Source: Department of Employment, Internet Vacancy Index, 12 month moving average (December 2006 = 100)

Supply from higher education


Higher education data show a strong increase in commencements and completions over the five years to 2014 for fields of education aligned with the assessed health professions (Figure 7).9

Commencements in graduate courses increased by 46.9 per cent and postgraduate commencements were up 72.9 per cent.

Completions from graduate and postgraduate degrees increased by 31.8 per cent and 51.2 per cent, respectively.

Figure 7: Higher education commencements and completions, selected health fields of education, 2009 to 2014 (no.)

Source: Department of Education and Training, Higher Education Student Data Collection, 2014, domestic students

Student numbers grew in all assessed health professions over the five years to 2014 (Table 1).10

The strongest growth in commencements was for audiology and speech pathology (up by 178 per cent and 84 per cent, respectively).

Optometry experienced the strongest growth in completions over the period, followed by medical science (up by 88 per cent and 79 per cent, respectively).



Table 1: Higher education commencements and completions by field of health education, 2014 and five year change to 2014

 

Commencements

Completions

 

2014

5 year change to 2014 (%)

2014

5 year change to 2014 (%)

Medical Science

5015

61%

2879

79%

Radiography

1507

26%

1023

9%

Optometry

366

44%

273

88%

Pharmacy

2211

31%

1564

13%

Dentistry

838

17%

731

34%

Occupational Therapy

2111

72%

1011

14%

Physiotherapy

2448

66%

1743

45%

Podiatry

481

60%

255

39%

Audiology

211

178%

92

35%

Speech Pathology

1308

84%

658

35%

Source: Department of Education and Training, Higher Education Student Data Collection, 2014, domestic students

Graduate employment outcomes


The full-time employment outcome for new graduates in most relevant bachelor degree courses fell over the five years to 2015 (Figure 8).11

The largest fall in full-time employment outcomes was in speech pathology, down by 28.7 percentage points to 56.9 per cent.

Physiotherapy showed the largest increase in full-time employment outcomes, up by 4.0 percentage points to 95.7 per cent.

Figure 8: Full-time employment outcomes (%) for new bachelor degree graduates, selected health fields of education, 2010 and 2015

Source: GCA, Graduate Destinations Survey

Future demand


Employment projections for the five years to 2020 show that employment growth for each of the health professions considered in this report is expected to be above the average of 8.3 per cent for all occupations (Table 2).12

Speech pathologists and audiologists are expected to show the highest growth rate (40.8 per cent) and dental practitioners the lowest (9.4 per cent).



Table 2: Projected employment growth, Health Professions, by occupational unit group, 5 years to November 2020

Occupational Unit Group 

5 year change to November 2020

(no. ‘000) (%)

Medical Laboratory Scientists

4.2

21.5

Medical Imaging Professionals

5.9

29.7

Optometrists and Orthoptists

0.7

10.2

Pharmacists

5.0

20.0

Dental Practitioners

1.0

9.4

Occupational Therapists

4.0

24.0

Physiotherapists

7.8

31.0

Podiatrists

0.7

16.7

Audiologists and Speech Pathologists

3.9

40.8

All Occupations

989.7

8.3

Source: Department of Employment. Data are for ANZSCO unit groups and include some occupations not assessed as part of the Skill Shortage Research

ATTACHMENT 1

Health professions, List of ANZSCO13 and ASCED14 codes used for data sources


Employment data

Source: ABS, Labour Force, May 2016, Department of Employment trend

Covers ANZSCO four digit occupations 2346 Medical Laboratory Scientist, 2512 Medical Imaging Professionals, 2514 Optometrist and Orthoptist, 2515 Pharmacist, 2523 Dental Specialist, 2524 Occupational Therapist, 2525 Physiotherapist, 2526 Podiatrist, and 2527 Audiologist and Speech Pathologist\Therapists. This includes a small number of six digit occupations not assessed.


Internet Vacancy Index data

Source: Department of Employment, Internet Vacancy Index, trend

Covers ANZSCO four digit occupations 2346 Medical Laboratory Scientist, 2512 Medical Imaging Professionals, 2514 Optometrist and Orthoptist, 2515 Pharmacist, 2523 Dental Specialist, 2524 Occupational Therapist, 2525 Physiotherapist, 2526 Podiatrist, and 2527 Audiologist and Speech Pathologist\Therapists. This includes a small number of six digit occupations not assessed.


University commencements and completions

Source: Department of Education and Training, Higher Education Student Data Collection, 2014, customised table, domestic students

Data relates to fields of training directly related to the assessed health professions – Medical Science (019901), Pharmacy (060500 & 060501), Dentistry (060701), Optometry (060901), Radiography (061500 & 061501), Physiotherapy (061701), Occupational Therapy (061703), Speech Pathology (061707), Audiology (061709) and Podiatry (061713).


Graduate data

Source: Graduate Careers Australia, Graduate Destinations Survey, 2015, customised table

Data relate to bachelor degree graduates from fields of education directly related to the assessed health professions – Medical Science (019901), Pharmacy (060500 & 060501), Dentistry (060701), Optometry (060901), Radiography (061500 & 061501), Physiotherapy (061701), Occupational Therapy (061703), Speech Pathology (061707) and Podiatry (061713). Data for Audiology (061709) were not reported due to low numbers.




1 For the purposes of this report, health professions refers to the following ANZSCO codes: Medical Laboratory Scientist (2346-11), Medical Diagnostic Radiographer (2512-11), Medical Radiation Therapist (2512-12), Sonographer (2512-14), Optometrist (2514-14), Hospital and Retail Pharmacist (2515-11,13), Dentist (2523-12), Occupational Therapist (2524-11), Physiotherapist (2525-11), Podiatrist (2526-11), Audiologist (2527-11) and Speech Pathologist (2527-12). Where detailed data are not available, broader data used may include some occupations not assessed in the research programme. See Attachment 1 for further details.

2 ABS, Labour Force, May 2016, Department of Employment trend

3 Department of Education and Training, Higher Education Student Data Collection, 2014, customised table, domestic students

4 Graduate Careers Australia (GCA), Graduate Destinations, 2015, customised tables

5 AHW 2012, Health workforce 2025, volumes 1-3

6 Department of Education and Training, Higher Education Student Data Collection, 2014, customised table, domestic students

7 Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), Labour Force, May 2016, Department of Employment custom trend

These data are for health professions at the ANZSCO four digit level and includes a small number of occupations not assessed in the SERA research (refer to Appendix C).



8 Department of Employment, Internet Vacancy Index, June 2016, 12 month moving average

9 Department of Education and Training, Higher Education Student Data Collection, 2014, customised table, domestic students

10 ibid

11 GCA, Graduate Destinations, 2015, customised tables, Australian resident graduates. The full-time employment outcome is the proportion of those available for full-time work who were employed full-time four months after completion of their qualification.

12 Department of Employment, Employment Projections to November 2020

13 Australian and New Zealand Standard Classification of Occupations

14 Australian Standard Classification of Education


ISSN: 2203-9619
Labour Market Research and Analysis Branch

Department of Employment Page


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