Employment of the Australian graduate nursing workforce: A retrospective analysis
School of Nursing and Midwifery
There have been predictions of a significant nursing workforce shortage in Australia and one strategy to address this has been an increase in supply of new graduates. Their rates and hours of work are largely unknown.
To explore trends in employment of newly graduate registered nurses in Australia between 2004 and 2019.
A retrospective analysis of Australian university graduate survey data and governmental administrative data was undertaken.
Findings and discussion:
Results show a 5.8% per annum increase in the number of nursing students graduating from Australian universities (2004-2018). There was a 26% reduction (2004–2019) in the number reporting employment in nursing at 6 months post-graduation. Of those who gained employment as nurses at 6 months, 91% were still employed at 36 months, suggesting that those employed as nurses on graduation will participate in the health care workforce for at least 3 years. Hours per week of employment increased at 36 months post-graduation (for the cohort graduating between 2008-2015), indicative of an increase in overtime hours and/or secondary employment. Fixed-term contracts up to 12 months’ duration increased by 8% (2004-2015) providing evidence that more nurses are being offered short-term contracts.
The number of newly graduated registered nurses not employed in nursing may reflect an oversupply, use of a nursing degree to move to other postgraduate degrees, or a reluctance to move to where jobs are available. Strategies may be needed to improve the rate of employment of new graduates, specifically employment outside metropolitan areas.
Safety and quality in health care