Increased new graduate jobs but still 57% miss out

21 August 2015

More new graduate nurses got jobs this July than in the past two years but still more than half of applicants missed out.

Recently released Ministry of Health statistics show 285 graduates (43% of the 662 applicants) were matched with jobs in the July round of the ACE nurse graduate job clearinghouse process. This is up on the 205 jobs filled in July 2013, and 233 in 2014 but at the same time the number of applicants has grown from 512 in 2013 to 645 last year and to this year's 662. So the percentage of applicants getting jobs in the mid-year intake has gone from 40 per cent in 2013 to 36 per cent in 2014 and back up to 43 per cent in 2015.

Chief Nurse Jane O'Malley said it is thanks to employers' efforts that the number of midyear places in government-subsidised NETP (nursing entry to practice) programmes has increased over the past three years. The number of DHBs involved in the mid-year intakes has also grown from nine in 2013 to 12 this year. But she added that the increase in jobs was happening at the same time the education sector was increasing the number of nurses graduating to help meet the projected growing demand for nurses as the populations grows and gets older.

The majority of applicants (just under 500) in the mid-year recruitment round were first time applicants having just sat their state finals in July. Also amongst the mid-year applicants were 149 graduates who sat state finals in November and 32 of those were successful in their second attempt. O'Malley says this leaves 117 (or nine per cent) of the 1286 November graduates who initially applied through ACE still seeking a NETP job. She says the pattern in recent years shows that within 12 months most graduates have found employment. 

Amongst the graduates reapplying through ACE in the mid-year round were 17 graduates from 12 months before and four of those were successful leaving 13 (3 per cent) of the initial cohort of 482 July 2014 applicants still job-hunting via ACE.

Also one of the five graduates from the initial 1078 November 2013 cohort of applicants was successful in what was probably their fourth attempt over nearly two years to get a NETP job. That left four (0.4 per cent) of that initial cohort still actively seeking work through ACE.

High numbers in mental health & addictions

The Ministry says a trend that has emerged in the past three years is a steady increase in graduates choosing mental health and addictions as their preferred practice setting in the mid-year recruitment round. Also a substantial increase in graduates choosing the largely older adult specialty of ATR (assessment, treatment and rehabilitation).

The dedicated NESP (new entry to specialist practice, mental health and addictions) programmes traditionally start in February but the Ministry says some DHBs are taking graduates in in September and offering them the preceptor and supernumerary support until the academic component of NESP begins in February. 

This is reflected in increased numbers in NESP programmes reported by mental health workforce agency Te Pou. For much of the last decade the number of NESP places was consistent at around 135 a year but this grew to 152 in 2014 and 175 this year (including a number of graduates who were employed in September 2014).

A Te Pou Skills Matter spokesperson said to free up funding to offer additional places in NESP programmes it had decreased slightly the number of places available on its Clinical Leadership Programme for experienced mental health nurses.

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