Grad stats show dramatic employment drop

Dr Karin Alexander
ADA President Dr Karin Alexander

The most recent figures from the Graduate Careers Council of Australia show a dramatic drop in the number of dentists in full-time employment—down 10 per cent on previous years. The Australian Dental Association Inc. (ADA) says this has happened because 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 per cent 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 per cent were in full time employment at the time of the survey.

“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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  1. The disgusting wastage of tax-payers dollars is of minor significance when compared to the heartache of graduates who have invested much more than money to achieve the immense job satisfaction that dentistry should still offer. Sadly, some of the corporate sector may see this as the perfect opportunity to exploit the surplus. It is certainly time for our association to be proactive.

  2. The explosion of new dental schools and overseas-trained dentist intake has been a cruel fraud inflicted on young Australians by the higher-education industry and the federal government respectively. There needs to be a cap on dental student numbers and the ADC intake must cease, otherwise the ranks of the un- and under-employed will continue to grow.

  3. We are seeing the same problem within the dental hygiene workforce. There are many graduates, with fewer job opportunities. We have been seeing overseas-trained dentists working as dental hygienists because they have been unable to find employment as dentists. Spending much time and effort, and not to mention accumulating a large HECS debt, only to find that there is little work available in a very unique and specific field would be very distressing for new graduates. I do feel that there is an idea out there to increase the number of dental professionals in order to push down wages and increase profit.

  4. As we know that our Government and Canadian Government has done an agreement over exchange of students. This agreement has opened the door for foreign student to come over here and get sharpened their skills, Australian government is paying for their training along with Australian student, i think it is not just OK. Government must interfere on this issue and they should cap the limit of foreign student.
    It was informative and a bit disappointing.
    Thank You


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