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More jobs than people in regions – New report by Regional Australia Institute reveals demand highest for doctors and nurses

May 24 2023

Regional job advertisements grew three times faster than in metropolitan Australia at the end of 2022, with demand for doctors and nurses skyrocketing, according to new research by the Regional Australia Institute (RAI).

Speaking at the National Press Club in Canberra today, RAI CEO Liz Ritchie will launch the Institute’s latest report, Regional Jobs 2022: The Big Skills Challenge, identifying the biggest gaps in critical roles.

“This report shines a light on the unprecedented challenge playing out in regional Australia, as labour supply struggles to keep up with demand – despite population movement continuing,” Liz Ritchie said.

Demand for workers in regions hit record levels in 2022, with December recording a 10% annual increase in the number of roles advertised, outpacing growth in capital cities of 3%.

In October 2022, according to the Internet Vacancy Index (IVI), which is a monthly count of online jobs advertised by Jobs and Skills Australia, regional job vacancies grew to 94,100, which was more than double the pre-pandemic levels.

“Medical Practitioner and Nurse vacancies in regions represented almost half the total national vacancies for this occupation grouping, despite regional Australia representing only one third of the population,” Ms Ritchie said.

“The RAI’s decadal snapshot shows some regions have recorded five-year vacancy growth rates for Medical Practitioners and Nurses of more than 500%, with the North Coast NSW IVI region looking to fill more than 400 roles,” Ms Ritchie said.

“Job vacancy growth year on year shows that the regions are falling further and further behind in trying to secure staff. Without intervention, the gap potentially will widen,” Liz Ritchie said.

Regional Jobs 2022: The Big Skills Challenge, identifies the top four most in-demand online advertised roles across regional Australia for December. These include:

  • Medical Practitioners and Nurses – 6,166
  • General Inquiry Clerks, Call Centre Workers and Receptionists – 5,941
  • Carers and Aides – 5,416
  • Sales Assistants and Salespersons – 4,527

More than half of all 31 regional IVI areas had Medical Practitioners and Nurses as the most in-demand position - Bendigo High Country (358 positions), Geelong Surf Coast (363), Wimmera and Western (187), Central Queensland (323), Far North QLD (432), Fleurieu Peninsula and Murray Mallee (103), Pilbara Kimberley ((141), and Regional NT (105).

While professional roles (which includes Medical Practitioners and Nurses) account for the largest number of roles advertised in regional Australia (26.7%), and require a skill level commensurate with a bachelor degree or higher, the remaining three occupation groupings in the top four are occupations that require a minimum Certificate III.

“To strengthen educational pathways in regions to meet the demand for workers, understanding the most in-demand roles, on a regional level, is critical.

“The Dubbo and Western NSW IVI area posted a five-year growth rate of 248% for General-Inquiry Clerks, Call Centre Workers and Receptionists. The Riverina and Murray IVI area saw Carers and Aides (health, education and childcare) advertisements increase by 323% in the same timeframe.

“Each region has its own story to tell and the people they need to ensure it can accommodate the demand in vacancies – which in most areas are seeing three figure percentage increases on five years,” Liz Ritchie said.

Preliminary economic modelling undertaken by the RAI indicates that filling these positions would have significant economic impact on both the regional and national economies.

“These roles represent a total of $1.76bn in direct wages paid to residents of regional Australia. Filling them would create an immediate $1.24bn in economic activity. The estimated 1,670 advertised child carer roles in regional Australia can potentially enable 11,690 parents/guardians to participate in the workforce,” Liz Ritchie said.

While much of the national attention is focussed on ‘filling and skilling’ in metropolitan Australia, Regional Jobs 2022: The Big Skill Challenge calls for a greater focus on regions.

“Tight housing markets and childcare access constraints are impacting regions’ ability to fill roles with people from outside the area. In 2022, more than 3.7 million regional Australians lived in a ‘childcare desert’ – equating to one position available for three children,” Liz Ritchie.

“This report highlights the growth opportunity currently being presented to regional Australia, and the importance of accelerating support to enable regional Australia to play a bigger role in national prosperity,” Liz Ritchie said.

Through its Regionalisation Ambition 2032, the RAI is calling for a National Population Plan that addresses settlement patterns at a regionally disaggregated level and the enablers across the Framework to support the plan.

For a full copy of the RAI’s Regional Jobs 2022: The Big Skills Challenge, click here, or go to

 For media enquiries contact:

Amanda Barwick
Ph: 0429 142 232
E: [email protected]