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14 Jan 2013 | Press Release

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Grad stats confirm dentists' employment dropping

Government policies and funding

The most recent figures from the Graduate Careers Council of Australia confirm what the Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA) has been saying: that newly registered dentist numbers are grossly exceeding demand.

"The ADA has been trying to have the government listen to its concerns about workforce oversupply for some time now," said ADA Federal President Dr Karin Alexander. "For years the ADA has called for a comprehensive health workforce study to be conducted. This has not occurred. Therefore without knowing with any certainty what the demand for dentists is in the community, Governments have invested substantial funds in training new dentists yet have also permitted a very high number of overseas trained dentists register as dentists here. It is illogical and economically unsound of government to invest so much money in the education of dentists, only to have them take up employment in less skilled roles".

Grad Stats is an annual publication by the Graduate Careers Council of Australia (GCCA) that outlines findings based on the results of the Graduate Destination Survey (Survey). The Survey collects information from university graduates around four months after the completion of their qualification. Traditionally, more than 94% of graduating dentists have been employed shortly after graduation. The 2012 Survey results released in late December show a very different result, dentists now report that only 83.6% were in full time employment at the time of the survey.

Year 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
% dentists in Full time employment 97.3 95.3 93.2 93.8 93.6 93.9 83.6

"Australians have always welcomed the overseas skilled persons, however as part of an appropriate overall workforce mix where appropriate. However many of these overseas dentists are coming from countries that need their own dental workforce reinforced. The ethics of this has to be questioned. Australia is accepting dentists from countries that have dentist workforce shortages to meet a demand that does not exist in Australia. There needs to be a rationalisation of what is going on.

"If Australia is going to invest in training here, then surely it should ensure that those graduating, as a consequence of that investment, have a role to play as dentists in the community. The excess supply that exists demonstrates economic irresponsibility and has to be brought in check.

"In times of fiscal restraint Australia must ensure that its investment in education and training of all dental practitioners is economically sound and that those graduating have a place in the community to ensure that that investment is repaid and not wasted," Dr Alexander concluded.

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