Previous labour market rating (June 2016) Regional Shortage
Metropolitan employers reported no recruitment difficulties whereas regionally based employers often found it difficult to attract suitable applicants, especially dual qualified nurses and midwives.
The majority of employer contacts were from public hospitals in non-metropolitan areas. Very few metropolitan vacancies were available to survey this year.
The survey of employers who recently advertised for midwives showed 44 per cent of vacancies were filled within six weeks compared with last year’s survey result of 83 per cent
In the previous five surveys employers have filled an average of 70 per cent of advertised vacancies. This year’s low result appears to be skewed by the high number of non- metropolitan vacancies surveyed.
There was a considerable difference between the experience of metropolitan and non-metropolitan employers.
Metropolitan employers reported no difficulty in recruitment, filled all vacancies and received on average 15.7 applicants and 5.0 suitable applicants per vacancy.
In comparison, non-metropolitan employers filled only 17 percent of vacancies and received on average very few applicants (0.3) and suitable applicants (0.2) per vacancy.
As was the case in previous surveys, metropolitan hospitals advertised for midwifery staff less frequently than rural hospitals.
Permanent positions were filled from casual pools or from lists of registered midwifes who cold called the hospital seeking midwifery employment.
Furthermore, metropolitan employers reported having stable workforces.
In 2017, a number of non-metropolitan vacancies did not receive any applicants.
Employers in regional areas are more likely to require midwives with dual qualifications in nursing and midwifery.
In short, there does not appear to be a general shortage of midwives. However, vacancies in regional localities remain difficult to fill.
Employers sought either qualified midwives or dual qualified nurses and midwives who were registered with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA). Most applicants met these minimum criteria (98 per cent), although in non-metropolitan South Australia this equates to a very small number.
Among qualified applicants that were deemed unsuitable, the main reasons were that they lacked sufficient post-graduate experience or, in the case of non-metropolitan vacancies, they did not hold dual registration in both nursing and midwifery.
The most significant factor driving demand for midwives is the number of births.
ABS statistics1 show that the number of births registered in South Australia in 2015 decreased by 3.9 per cent compared with 2014.
Demographically, the midwifery occupation is almost entirely female. Female midwifery registrations make up 98 per cent of total registrations2.
The majority of midwives are dual qualified as registered nurses, performing a range of nursing duties (either general or specialised) in addition to midwifery. This is particularly evident in regional health services where contacts surveyed consistently noted birthing demands are not sufficient to justify midwife-only positions.
Data from the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)shows there were 1972 dual qualified registered nurses and midwives and around 519 registered midwives practising in SA as at December 2016. Compared with a year earlier, the number of registered nurses/midwives has fallen by 5.1 per cent while the number of registered midwives increased by 7.5 per cent.
By aggregate, there has been a 2.7 per cent reduction in the registered nurse/midwife and midwife workforce in South Australia over the year to December 2016.
According to the Department of Employment’s Internet Vacancy Index (IVI) the number of advertised internet vacancies for midwives increased over the year to May 20173.
The number of domestic students completing university midwifery qualifications in South Australia4 increased in 2015 after numbers declined in 2014. Completions in 2015 were above yet remained near the four year average.
Graduate midwifery programs operate in several public and private sector hospitals across South Australia. Successful completion of the program does not guarantee permanent employment (which is subject to staffing budgets and other resource considerations).
In 2015-16, SA Health’s Transition to Professional Practice Program5 offered 52 places to graduate midwives, down from the 58 positions offered in 2014-2015.