Few unemployed new graduates trying for third time lucky

7 November 2014

Fewer unemployed new nurses than expected have taken up the chance to apply to be third time lucky in getting a new graduate position.

Only 33 of the 1481 new graduates nurses applying in the November round of the ACE nurse graduate job clearinghouse have been job-hunting for more than 12 months and have already applied twice.  

A further 220 (34%)** of the 645 July graduates who applied in the mid-year round have also reapplied in their second attempt for a government-subsidised NETP (nursing entry to practice) or NESP (new entry to specialist practice, mental health and addictions) position.   (The same time last year 247 unsucessful mid-year graduates re-applied.)

In response to widespread concern at new graduate nurse unemployment the then Minister of Health Tony Ryall extended the eligibility criteria for applying for NETP or NESP programmes from 12 to 24 months after graduation.  So now nursing graduates can apply up to four times through the ACE process for a NETP or NESP place rather than the previous two.

Of the more than 1300 students (1312) graduated in November 2013 about 13 per cent (170) were thought to be job-hunting in late July after being unsuccessful in their second attempt to get a NETP placement through the ACE process.  But of these 170 only 32 (2.5%) have re-applied.  There was also one applicant reapplying who graduated in July 2013.

In all 412 of the 645 July graduates who applied for positions in the mid-year ACE round had been unsuccessful in gaining a NETP position by late July.  Now 220 of those have reapplied and whether the remaining 192** have been successful in finding nursing work in the intervening months, or decided not to re-apply, is not known.

The New Zealand Nurses Organisation launched a campaign and petition this year for the Minister of Health to fund a NETP place for every new graduate nurse as concerns grew that graduates would be lost to nursing despite a looming nursing shortage in future years.

The petition quickly reached 7000 signatures and on July 31 the Health Minister Tony Ryall announced funding to increase the number of NETP places by 200 to 1300 places for 2015.  

The NZNO petition reached more than 8000 signatures and was presented to the Minister in mid-August saying the additional places were welcomed but the organisation still wanted NETP places for all graduates.

About 1500 graduates applied for NETP/NESP places in 2014 and it was expected about 1100 would be successful in getting places in the government-subsidised programmes for first year nurses during 2014. The exact numbers of graduates finding nursing work in non-NETP/NESP programmes – either overseas or with private surgical hospitals – is not known.  Or those working in non-nursing positions like health care assistants or outside of the health sector.

 (NB see also related story More new graduate job-hunters but also more nursing jobs on offer for 2015)

**This article was corrected on December 12 2014.  The initial data sent to Nursing Review on November 7 by the Minstry of Health was based on the number of mid-year applicants that had re-used their original application.  A subsequent Ministry audit of the data revealed that this did not capture all the July 2014 graduates reapplying.