New grad job market steady for bumper cohort

14 December 2016

Job offers for new graduate nurses were back up slightly after plateauing last year but around 650 nurses will once again start the summer job-hunting. 

By the end of November it was known that nearly 54% (779) of the 1455 applicants for New Year intakes into new graduate programmes had been successful in gaining job offers. 

The job success rate was slightly higher (56%) for the bumper 1274 applications from graduates who sat their state finals on November 15. (These graduates are due to get their results on December 16 – a slight delay due to the recent earthquakes and temporary closure of the Nursing Council office.)

The number of first time applicants was the highest ever for this latest November ACE round – the fifth since the job match clearing house got underway in 2012 (see table below).  Dr Jane O'Malley, the chief nursing officer for the Ministry of Health noted that the number of first time applicants was up 29 on the previous year and the number of jobs offered in the job match was also up on the previous year.

Trends in the past five November ACE rounds (see table) below show a slight ebb and flow in job offers with the number of new graduates securing jobs by late November/early December usually ranging between 730 to 780.  O'Malley said the latest ACE data also confirmed a pattern of around half of graduates gaining employment before they received their state final examination results and between 96-98% of ACE applicants gaining a job within 12 months.

Health Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman said the latest statistics indicate that only 3 per cent of November 2015 graduates were still job-hunting after the latest round which was "an impressive success rate".

The 779 ACE applicants known to have nursing positions by late November included 13 initial applicants (who withdrew from the match as they already had jobs) and 16 who secured jobs through the ACE talent pool following the initial match in mid-November.

The ACE clearing house matches recent graduates with employers – mostly district health boards but also Southern Cross, primary health and residential aged care providers – with government-subsidised places on NETP (Nurse Entry to Practice) and NESP (new entry to specialist practice, mental health and addictions) programmes.

Of the 103 graduates from July 2016 who applied in the latest round 43 (42%) were second-time lucky in gaining a NETP or NESP place. There were also 61 applications from nurses who had graduated in 2015 and 19 of those (31%) were successful in gaining employment in the latest round.

As at the end of November 653 graduates had secured NETP positions for the start of 2017 – the vast majority with DHBs but 16 were placed with Southern Cross private surgical hospitals, at least 35 in primary care (including practice nursing, iwi providers, school nursing and hospices) and seven in aged residential care.  

The Ministry said the most popular practice settings sought after by new graduate applicants continued to be surgical and medical nursing positions plus mental health and addictions. A further 113 recent graduates gained places in NESP programmes.

O'Malley the latest ACE round indicated that 66% of Māori graduates were employed compared to 50 per cent of non-Māori – a 12% increase in Māori employed compared to the previous year - but this had to be interpreted with caution due to gaps in ethnicity data last year.  She said there also appeared to be an 8% increase in Pacific applicants being employed – up from 53% last year to 61% this year but the same caution applied. 

Coleman said in 2016 the government funded 1291 new graduate nurses into NETP positions.  (See NZNO response: Call for all graduates to get guaranteed places.)

NB The 1455 applicants were reduced to 1434 by the time of the job match as 13 applicants withdrew as "employed elsewhere/employed previous talent pool" (these are counted in the number successful in gaining jobs) and eight withdrew due to "no reason/degree incomplete".

New graduate Nov ACE job trends



Total applicants*

First time applicants

Total number of jobs offered**

Total number of applicants successful



























*Number of applicants can drop by the time job offers are made in mid-November as graduates either get jobs with other employers or withdraw for other reasons. From 2014 onwards eligibility for applying to ACE nursing was extended so new graduates could apply for NETP/NESP positions for up to two years (i.e. up to four times) after passing state finals. 

**The cut-off date for supplying job offer data can vary slightly from year to year from – so sometimes includes additional jobs offered in late Nov/early December. Employers keep offering jobs over the summer so the number who actually start NETP programmes in the New Year is always higher.

NA = not available

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