SEEK Employment Trends: spotlight on the healthcare and medical industry

The ageing population is having an impact on New Zealand’s healthcare and medical sector in more ways than you may expect.

Not only does the changing demographics place added pressure on the sector’s resources, a large portion of the country’s nursing population is approaching retirement age.

Research from New Zealand’s Ministry of Social Development shows that the number of people aged 65 years and over is projected to increase from around 550,000 in 2009 to 1 million in the late 2020s. By this time, they will outnumber children.

While this creates a challenge for New Zealand’s healthcare and medical sector, which saw a 2% year-on-year increase in SEEK new job ads in May 2016, the industry is facing challenges of its own. “The average age of a nurse in New Zealand is over 50 years old,” says James Scott, Executive Director of healthcare staffing and services company Medacs Global Group. “The average age of a midwife is about 55. This will become an issue for the sector when they decide to retire.”


Nurses are in demand

Key areas of nursing experienced year-on-year increases in SEEK job ads in May 2016. High acuity nursing roles grew by 300%; midwifery, neo-natal, SCN and NICU roles rose by 40%; and theatre and recovery nursing roles were up by 28%.

Scott says these increases are to be expected. “Nurses who would normally have gone through the motions of retiring throughout the course of the Global Financial Crisis decided to stay at work,” he says. “They have stayed in the healthcare sector and so the workforce is continuing to mature toward retirement age. Now that the pressures of the GFC have largely gone, many nurses at the top age bracket are looking to retire over the next five years en masse.”

Scott adds that as fewer nurses were retiring during the GFC, recruitment was a lower priority. “There were less drivers to attract new blood into the healthcare career pathway. This may explain the increasing number of job ads for nursing roles.”



Growth across the sector

While the volume of new SEEK job ads for the healthcare and medical sector increased year-on-year in May 2016, the good news for employers is that the number of applications per ad was also on the rise. The sector also experienced a moderate salary growth over the past four months and the average advertised salary in May 2016 was $76,511.



In addition to key nursing roles, job ads for pathology increased by 125%, clinical and medical research roles were up by 129%, and speech therapy was up by 75%.

Kathryn Clark, Recruitment Team Leader – People and Capability Services at Canterbury District Health Board and West Coast District Health Board, has also noticed growing demand for key roles.

“We are seeing increasing demand for hard-to-fill roles and these also tend to reflect global shortages,” she explains. “Across the board, there has been a bit of a spike but not a greater increase in activity than what we usually experience because we’re always busy. We’re also dealing with global skills shortages, so we need to make ourselves an attractive employer in order to get the right talent.”



Age-old challenges

New Zealand’s burgeoning aged care sector may reflect in the year-on-year increases in SEEK job ads for aged care nursing.

“We’re all aware of the aging population in New Zealand and the growth in demand for aged care across the country seems to be contributing to an increase in job ads for aged care nursing,” says Janet Faulding, SEEK New Zealand General Manager. “SEEK job ads for these roles were up by 16% compared to the same time last year.”

As people are living longer, they are also presenting with multiple clinical issues. This requires a greater breadth of health care from the sector. “It means the package of care they are receiving is quite complex and needs a multitude of service providers with different areas of expertise,” explains Scott.

New Zealand’s healthcare and medical sector represents a complex network of organisations that face unique challenges. “It’s busy and there are challenges but it’s a rewarding sector to work in,” says Clark.



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