At least 20% of bumper cohort of new nurses still job-hunting

22 April 2014

The number of new graduate nurse jobs has stayed static at around 900 for the third year running despite the number of nursing graduates growing 25 per cent in the same time period.

The annual graduate destination survey shows that while a bumper crop of 1323 registered nurses graduated in November 2013 the number of jobs has not grown to match, resulting in more new graduates than ever before still left job-hunting.

Graduate employment reached a heady 85% for the 1050 nurses graduating in November 2011 before dropping to 75% for November 2012’s 1209 graduates and has now slumped to 69% for the November 2013 graduates. 

For the second year running the survey, coordinated by nurse educator organisation NETS, asked graduates without jobs whether they were actively looking for work.

The survey found that 909 (69%) were employed as registered nurses, 268 (20% were actively seeking work, 51 (4%) were not actively seeking work and 95 (7%) didn’t respond to the survey.

The number employed in district health board medical or surgical wards dropped by 50 while  247 of the July 2013 graduates were still jobhunting.

The NETS figures show the number employed in primary health care (including practice nursing) grew from 67 to 101 and the number finding jobs in ‘continuing care elderly’ grew from 81 to 115.

The number nursing overseas fell from 38 a year ago to 24 this year with the highest numbers working overseas being Otago Polytechnic graduates with seven graduates nursing overseas.

The job-hunting success rates for nursing schools ranged from 60 to 89% and - despite well-publicised restrictions last year on new graduate jobs in Dunedin Hospital – 76 per cent of Otago Polytechnic graduates are in nursing jobs.  Of the RN graduates not actively job hunting in New Zealand some were known to be continuing their studies, six were applying to work in the USA or Australia and others were travelling.

The NETS survey statistics differs from job hunting statistics released by the ACE new graduate placement programme as the NETS data includes only November graduates and also includes students who find jobs in the private sector and overseas.  The 1328 ACE applicants for new graduate placements included 247 graduates from July 2013 who were still jobhunting.  By late February 777 of the ACE applicants had new graduate placements in public hospitals, residential aged care, and primary health providers.