Nurses Needed in Australia: The Latest Trends in the Nursing Sector

March 10, 2023 by Mariana Marques

The shock of the Covid crisis on the Australian healthcare sector only added pressure to a sector that is notoriously understaffed. Not that the country is alone, of course. We see news about nursing shortages across the globe, and a lot has been discussed about nursing wages and benefits since the pandemic.

Pre-pandemic, the story wasn’t much different. Nursing shortages in Australia were already a trend, mostly due to the declining supply of nursing graduates and the equally declining number of nurses migrating to Australia from other countries. The repercussions of the pandemic exacerbated some of these existing weaknesses. 

Lightcast put together The Great Reshuffle dashboard, which compiles key Australian labour market trends over the past years, split into various sectors. As part of our The Great Reshuffle blog series, we have previously explored the Construction, Hospitality and Travel, and Sales Sectors. Now, we focus on the Nursing sector and how it has changed over the last few years. 

Sky-rocketing demand 

While job postings declined drastically for a lot of sectors in Q1 of 2020, the Nursing sector experienced quite the opposite. The number of nursing-related job postings increased significantly since the beginning of 2020, and has been on the rise ever since. Previous to 2020, the number of nursing jobs advertised was slightly stabilised, so the pandemic served as a turning point for this sector. 

Nursing wages

Healthcare workers were highly praised for their sacrifices throughout the pandemic, which prompted a lot of conversations regarding potential pay rises and bonuses for the sector. Yet, as of Q3 of 2022, these conversations didn’t actually translate into a boost in wages being offered. Nursing advertised wages continue to be significantly higher than the market average, but remained stable throughout the pandemic. In Q3 of 2022, the median advertised annual salary for nursing positions was A$79K, A$23K higher than the median advertised salary for the total Australian market, but the same level as Q1 of 2020. 

There has been some positive news recently. Earlier this year, 21,000 nurses and midwives in South Australia received a new pay deal consisting of two bonus payments and a 3% pay rise. A lot could still change when it comes to nursing wages in the near future. 

Full-time vs. Contracting work 

Perhaps surprisingly, only 60% of nursing job postings were full-time in Q3 of 2022, compared to the market average of 82%. There has been a slow yet steady increase in job postings offering full-time employment. In the beginning of 2020, for instance, 52% of all nursing job postings offered full-time. Advertised contracting roles for nursing are fairly limited: in Q3 of 2022, only 4% of nursing job postings offered contracting roles. 

Relaxed requirements

The pressing need for nursing positions is clear, and even job requirements are reflecting that. A key shift we have noticed is the lower demand for nurses with 3 or more years of experience, replaced by an increased number of openings for graduate nursing positions.

In 2019, 41% of advertised nursing positions required 3+ years of experience, but by 2022 this had fallen to 27%. This suggests that as the shortage of nurses has become increasingly acute, healthcare providers have been lowering their requirements to recruit for hard-to-fill positions.

Every sector is evolving - and Nursing is no different. If you want to explore some of the top Australian sectors in detail and understand how the Australian labour market is changing - have a look at our The Great Reshuffle dashboard. Lightcast provides enriched labour market data across any sector and region. If you would like to access even more data, or understand how our data can help you, get in touch with our team.