“While we are facing a skills shortage right now, Australia will also need over 300,000 additional health workers by 2026,” Universities Australia Chief Executive Catriona Jackson said.
“This workforce is diverse, but universities train most of the health professionals within it – from allied health professionals to dentists, midwives, nurses, doctors, and pharmacists.
“Modelling of Australia’s future workforce shows demand for nurses, in particular, is expected to exceed supply, with a projected shortfall of 85,000 nurses by 2025.
“Roughly 16,000 nurses graduate each year, which falls well short of the number required to meet the projected shortfall. We estimate that this number will need to double.
“But we need more clinical placements in the health system so that students can complete the qualifications needed to proceed to professional registration.
“We also need to open more places in aged care, primary care, mental health care and disability services so that students gain experience where workforce need is greatest.
“Universities rely on health service providers such as hospitals and community-based services to deliver placements for students.
“Universities cannot produce more health graduates unless health services open up more clinical placements so people can complete their training.”
Ms Jackson said Universities Australia recognises there can be barriers to unlocking placements and that a partnership approach to growing and sustaining this capacity is needed.
“We have to work in partnership with government and health service providers to expand the number of clinical places available to students in ways that work for services, clients and students, to ensure our health workforce can keep up with demand,” Ms Jackson said.
“Without these workers, Australians wouldn’t receive the services and care they need to be safe and healthy. That’s why we need to prepare our workforce today for the future.
“Australia’s universities stand ready to work closely with health services to grow the additional clinical training capacity needed to expand our health workforce.
“We will use our seat at the table of the Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit to reinforce the significant roll universities play in delivering the workforce Australia needs.”