Dental Graduates the Big Winners in Workforce Reform
After years of evidence-based research and advocating on behalf of dentists, the Australian Dental Association (ADA) has successfully influenced the Federal Government to remove dentists and dental specialists from the Skilled Occupation List (SOL).
The removal of these occupations from the SOL demonstrates the Federal Government finally acknowledges the oversupply of dentists in Australia, a notion the ADA has raised with government for several years and has demonstrated through research ever since.
The ADA became particularly concerned about an oversupply of dentists when the predicted need for 15,000 dentists by 2020 to cope with increasing demand for dental services had already been met by June of 2013; a clear indication that there was no longer a need for Australia to rely on overseas-trained dentists to fill the gap.
Dr Rick Olive AM RFD, President of the ADA said, “It is immensely satisfying to get word of a decision that will help secure the future of Australian dental students and new graduates, but the issue is not yet at a close. The reality is there is an oversupply of dentists in Australia, and while applications from overseas practitioners seeking to occupy positions available to Australian graduates will reduce as of today, the exponentially increasing number of students entering Australian dental schools is still a major factor. This is where our energies must now be focused. This is about the future of Australian graduates.”
The ADA does not consider the matter resolved. The deregulation of university placements significantly contributes to the existing oversupply and impacts on the likelihood of new graduates securing a job in a reasonable timeframe after completion of their studies.
While the ADA applauds the Federal Government’s decision, the excessive time taken to accept the oversupply has taken its toll on graduates of recent years. General concern in relation to job prospects from new graduates and dental students, most of who have accumulated student debt in the vicinity of $100,000, remains.
The ADA will continue to lobby government to take advantage of policy levers that will influence new entrants to the profession of dentistry.