2.4 Case study

Health care and social assistance experiences consistent demand

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, demand has been relatively consistent for the essential services provided by the Health Care and Social Assistance industry. Hospitals have experienced a short-term increase in employment. This offsets some decline in areas such as Allied Health Services that were restricted by physical distancing requirements.

Labour force

Employment in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry decreased by 28,600 (or 1.6%) over the 6 months to August. The industry had the second lowest rate of decline of the 12 industries that fell over the period. More recently, employment increased by 36,800 (or 2.1%) over the quarter to August.

Employment in the Other Social Assistance Services sector decreased by 34,700 (or 10.0%), followed by Child Care Services (down by 12,200 or 8.3%) and Residential Care Services (down by 5,000 or 1.9%) between February and August.

The only sector in the industry to see employment fall over both quarters in this period was the Other Social Assistance Services sector.
Employment in the Medical Services sector increased by 12,900 (or 7.1%), followed by Other Health Care Services (up by 5,900 or 20.3%) and Pathology and Diagnostic Imaging Services (up by 4,100 or 8.4%) over the 6 months to August 2020.

Payroll information

According to Australian Taxation Office Single Touch Payroll data, the Health Care and Social Assistance industry was one of only 4 industries to see an increase in employee jobs between March and October.

Employee jobs in this industry increased by 0.3% between 14 March and 17 October. This growth was well above average for all industries over the period (down by 4.4%).

The Hospitals sub-division recorded the largest increase in employee jobs in the industry between 14 March and 17 October (up by 2.5%), followed by Social Assistance Services (up by 2.1%).

Declines were recorded in the Medical and Other Health Care Services (down by 3.4%) and Residential Care Services (down by 1.6%) sub-divisions.

Internet Vacancy Index (IVI)

Of the 51 occupations that primarily operate within the Health Care and Social Assistance industry, job advertisements in 37 (or 72.5%) have now reached their pre-pandemic levels11. This is compared with 53.4% across all occupations.

The Health Care and Social Assistance occupations that have had job advertisements recover most strongly above their pre‑pandemic levels include Indigenous Health Workers (210.9%), Nurse Educators and Researchers (181.6%), Other Medical Practitioners (178.6%) and Anaesthetists (168.6%).

Occupation resilience

Looking ahead, the Health Care and Social Assistance industry is expected to continue to provide a significant share of new jobs. As well as being a vital part of the community response to, and of management of the pandemic, demographic changes underpin long-term growth for services offered by the industry. These changes will continue to provide future employment opportunities in the industry.

The Health Care and Social Assistance industry was the largest employing industry for 34 of the 110 occupations identified as resilient.

More than a quarter (26.2%) of resilient occupation employment is in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry. This industry has the largest concentration of resilient occupation employment, with 65.4% of employment in the industry considered to be resilient. By comparison, around one-third (33.4%) of employment across all industries was in occupations considered resilient.

The Health Care and Social Assistance industry provides opportunities for both high and low skilled careers. The industry employs 40.9% of higher skilled resilient occupation employment (Diploma or higher education level) and 23.7% of occupations requiring skills commensurate to a Certificate II/III level.

Table 5: Health Care and Social Assistance industry occupation resilience and employment

Occupation Occupation Resilience Score Number employed in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry(‘000) Share of occupation employment in the Health Care and Social Assistance industry
Registered Nurses 14 276.3 94.3
Aged and Disabled Carers 15 181.2 95.0
Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers 12 90.1 95.1
General Practitioners and Resident Medical Officers 13 62.5 97.7
Welfare Support Workers 12 39.6 62.6
Physiotherapists 11 30 94.9
Dental Assistants 11 29.2 97.7
Social Workers 12 28 75.9
Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses 13 23.2 96.7
Psychologists 12 22.3 73.4
Welfare, Recreation and Community Arts Workers 14 21.4 58.5
Medical Technicians 12 20.4 71.1
Midwives 15 19.9 97.1
Other Medical Practitioners 15 19.5 96.5
Ambulance Officers and Paramedics 13 19.3 96.0
Health and Welfare Services Managers 14 18.9 82.5
Nurse Managers 13 18.4 94.4
Medical Imaging Professionals 12 16.3 96.4
Counsellors 14 15.7 51.1
Occupational Therapists 14 15.7 83.5
Medical Laboratory Scientists 13 13.6 49.3
Audiologists and Speech Pathologists / Therapists 15 8.6 92.5
Surgeons 12 7.3 100.0
Specialist Physicians 12 7 95.9
Podiatrists 11 6.8 100.0
Other Health Diagnostic and Promotion Professionals 13 6.3 63.0
Nurse Educators and Researchers 13 6 65.2
Diversional Therapists 11 5.9 92.2
Other Miscellaneous Technicians and Trades Workers 12 5.6 33.1
Nutrition Professionals 12 5.3 81.5
Dental Hygienists, Technicians and Therapists 11 4.6 63.0
Psychiatrists 14 2.8 100.0
Special Care Workers 12 2.4 60.0
Indigenous Health Workers 11 1.2 80.0

 

11 Pre-pandemic levels are job advertisements for February 2020 in trend terms, as published the February 2020 release of the IVI.