Health care is the top choice for young Australians entering the workforce

One in five young Australian jobseekers want to work in health care – more than any other sector.

That’s according to a survey of 5000 young people commissioned by career advice website and job board Skillsroad, which is backed by Business Australia and various other chambers of commerce.

After health care at 21 per cent, the next most popular industries among young jobseekers were education and training at 12 per cent and professional services at 11 per cent.

Jasmine Davis, president of the Australian Medical Students Association, said it’s encouraging, yet not surprising, to see so many young people wanting to work in the field.

The 25-year-old University of Melbourne student is completing a doctorate in medicine and a master’s in public health.

“Anecdotally, we have seen that there’s been an increasing interest in studying health care generally,” Ms Davis told The New Daily.

“Medicine is, of course, always a very popular career option for young people, as it combines that ability to help people and it’s also quite competitive as well, and we know that students are more likely to go into competitive courses.”

She added that healthcare workers are clearly in demand, and that the sector offers jobseekers a stable career path.

“That idea of who are and aren’t the essential workers in communities was really brought to light throughout the pandemic,” she said.

“And obviously, healthcare work is one of those jobs that was very clearly shown to be part of the workforce that was essential in those times.”

Business NSW chief executive Daniel Hunter, whose organisation is involved with Skillsroad, made a similar point.

“During the pandemic, we’ve seen some of these health sectors up in lights, which you could call the rock-star effect,” he said.

“Seeing high-profile people like Dr Kerry Chant I think attracts people into the industry.

“The findings may give some hope to the healthcare sector, which has been struggling under the weight of staffing shortages and pandemic burnout.”

The flipside of the pandemic

The pandemic has highlighted how important healthcare workers are, but it has also stretched resources and made working conditions more difficult.

Earlier on in the pandemic, many students had their placements rescheduled and had to take classes online.

Even nowadays, various strains on the industry can make it trickier for job seekers and graduates to enter the field.

Nurses protest in NSW.

NSW nurses protested in February against tough working conditions during the pandemic, calling for higher pay. Photo: AAP

“If we’re on placement and all we see are burnt-out doctors, and the doctors are too burnt out to teach, and they’re exhausted, and their mental health isn’t great, that obviously has an influence on the students who are experiencing that as well,” Ms Davis said.

“So I think we’re definitely yet to see the full impact of what the impact of the pandemic will be not just on doctors, but the healthcare profession as a whole.”

A backlog of elective surgeries has changed the kinds of procedures students and graduates are exposed to.

COVID-safe precautions also mean students and graduates are less likely to have hands-on experience treating patients with things like pneumonia or bronchitis.

“But in general, I would say universities have done really well to ensure students have been able to catch up on the placements and will definitely be safe and wonderful doctors,” Ms Davis said.

“It’s just about having their own sense of feeling confident with their skills and that, of course, comes from time and exposure.”

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