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Technicians Support Services

Overview

This page provides information and data on the Technicians Support Services workforce. Technicians Support Services is a diverse workforce and includes the following sub-sectors:

  • Anaesthetic technology
  • Audiometry
  • Cardiac technology
  • Health administration
  • Hospital pharmacies
  • Medical practice assisting
  • Operating theatre support
  • Optometry
  • Pathology
  • Sterilisation services.

The Technicians Support Services Industry Reference Committee (IRC) has responsibility for sixteen qualifications within the HLT – Health Training Package, aligned to the following occupations:

  • Admissions Clerk
  • Anaesthesia Technician
  • Audiometrist
  • Biomedical Laboratory Assistant
  • Cardiac Technician
  • Cast Technician
  • Clinical Coding Clerk
  • Central Sterile Services Department (CSSD) Supervisor
  • Dispensing Technician or Assistant
  • Executive Assistant
  • Health Administrative Worker or Supervisor
  • Hospital Pharmacy Assistant or Technician
  • Instrument Technician
  • Medical Practice Assistant or Receptionist
  • Medical Records Section Leader
  • Medical Secretary
  • Optical Dispenser
  • Pathology Collector
  • Pharmacy Assistant or Technician
  • Practice Manager
  • Senior Clinical Coder
  • Senior Pharmacy Technician
  • Senior Theatre Technician or Wardsperson
  • Screening Audiometrist
  • Specimen Collection Officer and Specialist Specimen Collectors (Pathology)
  • Sterilisation Technician or Supervisor
  • Ward Clerk or Wardsperson.

Workers in the roles under the remit of the Technicians Support Services IRC operate in an array of health care and social assistance sectors, and subsequently include a range of multi-levelled and multi-skilled job roles. These job roles may be involved in undertaking administrative, supportive, operational (i.e. technician) and/or supervisory activities. Businesses operating in the service areas outlined above include a range of public and private small, medium and large enterprises, spread across the country.

Overall, the health care and social assistance industry workforce is expected to grow significantly over the next few years, with the Technicians Support Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast indicating it could reach 1.9 million workers by 2023. This growth will undoubtedly include many job roles supported by these Training Package Products.

Information sourced from the most recently available Skills Forecast, the Technicians Support Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

For information on other health-related training and employment, visit the Health industry page and the various sectors.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and skills forecasts

The Technicians Support Services IRC was not required to submit an annual update to their 2019 Skills Forecast during 2020. As such, the version published in 2019 remains the most recently published Skills Forecast for this industry.

Employment trends

Please note: any employment projections outlined below were calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics prior to COVID-19.

Employment snapshot

Employment levels in some of the key occupations resulting from training in Technicians Support Services qualifications – Medical Technicians, Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers, Health and Welfare Services Managers and Practice Managers – have grown significantly since 2000. Projections to 2024 indicate further growth in employment levels in the Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers, and Medical Technicians. Conversely, the employment level is projected to decline for Practice Managers by 2024.

Training trends

Training snapshot

In 2019, there were over 15,430 program enrolments in Technicians Support Services-related qualifications, up from about 14,370 in 2018. There were 5,310 program completions in 2019, up from about 4,800 in 2018.

Nearly two thirds of program enrolments in 2019 (64%) were at certificate III level, followed by 27% at certificate IV level and 9% at diploma or higher level. Program enrolments in the Technicians Support Services sector are spread across a number of qualification clusters, with higher proportions in Pathology (41%), Health Administration (23%) and Sterilisation Services (14%). The main intended occupations were Pathology Collector, followed by Medical Receptionist, Health Practice Manager, and Sterilisation Technician.

Overall, most of the training was delivered by private training providers (51%) and TAFE institutes (42%) in 2019. However, there was considerable variation depending on the different qualification clusters. For example, TAFE institutes delivered all the training for Audiometry and Hearing Device Prescription and Evaluation qualifications and nearly all (95%) of Anaesthetic Technology, and private training providers delivered 97% of Operating Theatre Technical Support qualifications.

The majority (73%) of training was government funded, with just over a quarter (26%) of training funded by domestic fee for service.

In 2019, around 38% of students were in New South Wales, followed by 24% in Victoria and 20% in Queensland. More than two-fifths of training was delivered in New South Wales (42%), followed by 25% in Victoria and 19% in Queensland.

Commencements in apprenticeships and traineeships declined significantly mid-decade before increasing over the last few years. Between 2018 and 2019, commencements have nearly doubled, with just under 510 reported in 2019 compared with nearly 280 in 2018. Completions have declined too over the decade to 2019, reaching a low of 100 completions in 2018. In 2019, just over 140 completions were recorded. The main intended occupation for apprenticeships and traineeships was Pathology Collector. About 39% of apprentices and trainees in training were reported by New South Wales, followed with 18% by Victoria, 17% by Queensland and 15% by South Australia.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry or training package, please visit NCVER’s VET Students by Industry. If you are prompted to log in, please select cancel and you will continue to be directed to the program.

For more data specific to your region please visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

If you are interested in extracting NCVER data to construct tables with data relevant to you, please sign up for a VOCSTATS account.

Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Technicians Support Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast identified the top priority skills for the sector as teamwork and communication, problem solving, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility, technical / job specific skills, and self-management.

The top five identified generic skills are:

  • Communication / Virtual collaboration / Social intelligence
  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) (Foundation skills)
  • Technology
  • Learning agility / Information literacy / Intellectual autonomy and self-management (adaptability)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) skills

According to the Medical Technicians job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers were communication skills and detail orientated. The most advertised positions were Laboratory Technician, followed by Laboratory Assistant. The top employers were the New South Wales Government and the Government of Victoria.

According to the Technicians Support Services IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast, health care and clinical practices have evolved significantly over the years. The sector overall has been experiencing several challenges which are impacting workforce skills requirements, including:

  • An ageing workforce
  • New and emerging technologies
  • Skills shortages
  • Low retention of staff
  • Government legislation changes
  • Lack of career progression opportunities.

The ageing workforce is a potential challenge to employers, who may need to adopt workplace arrangements that will encourage a substantial number of mature-age workers to remain in work. The Treasury expects the labour force participation rate for people aged 65 or over to increase from 12.9% to 17.3% over the period 2014–2054, while participation rate for young people, particularly those aged 19–24, is expected to keep on falling. Advantages of retaining mature-age workers include their extensive work experience, maturity levels/professionalism, strong work ethic and reliability. Strategies to retain mature-age workers, such as job redesign to accommodate constraints stemming from the ageing process, are necessary.

The Australian Digital Health Agency's National Digital Health Strategy aims to implement digital technologies by 2020 to offer 'seamless, safe, secure digital health services and technologies that provide a range of innovative, easy to use tools for both patients and providers'. The transition towards a national digital health care platform will require health care professionals to be educated about digital health and the use of the My Health Record. Digital skills and knowledge areas are becoming increasingly important for job roles within the Technicians Support Services sector.

The role of the Anaesthetic Technician is changing and has been impacted by the introduction of new techniques and new technology which is continually evolving. Where these roles were once heavily focused on the operation of equipment, there is now a much greater focus on patient-centric services. Invasive and non-invasive patient monitoring using technology, as well as equipment to conduct patient checks at the point of care and the use of physiological computers, has broadened the range of skills and knowledge required to undertake these job roles. Key challenges regarding the implementation of new technologies, technical standards and practices, as well as the need to adapt to changes in government legislation, have resulted in skills and knowledge gaps within the current Training Package Products. To address the immediate workforce skills issues, it is proposed that the Diploma of Anaesthetic Technology, and seven associated units of competency, be updated in 2019–2020 to align with contemporary industry requirements.

Skills shortages are reported predominantly within the pathology service area. Skills gaps are linked to insufficient qualification assessments and a lack of basic skills; increased technical skills requirements; and an undersupply of training and education, including workplace training. In effect, there has been a lack of pathology workers, particularly in rural regions, where the job role 'Pathology Collector' has been listed in the Regional Sponsored Migration Scheme (RSMS) visa list since March 2018. As such, there is a growing need to improve the quality of education and training for prospective pathology students to fill this skills shortage. Undertaking work-integrated learning (WIL) prior to studying media laboratory science (MLS) may go some way to alleviating skill shortages, according to the journal article Bridging the Gap Between Australian Pathology and University Education: Student Perceptions of a Career Pathway in Medical Laboratory Science. The study explored student perceptions of studying MLS before and after WIL placement in a pathology service. With nearly two-thirds of graduates employed in the profession and a quarter continuing further education, the program was regarded as a success.

Other fields of relevance where skill shortages have been registered include audiology, and specifically Audiologist job roles, where the Department of Jobs and Small Business has registered this role in its skills shortage list.

Retaining health support workers is widely known to be an issue strongly experienced in rural locations. Retention of staff in the sector may be challenging due to high levels of fixed term contracts and casual employment. In the beginning of 2018, health care services had the third-highest number of casual workers, behind accommodation and food services and retail trade. Workplace stress and bullying can also have a negative impact on staff retention among health administration workers.

The 457 visa governing the temporary employment of overseas workers in Australia was replaced by the Temporary Skills Shortage (TSS)/482 visa in April 2017. The 457 to 482 visa change has increased the complexity and cost of the application process for overseas workers. Relative to the Technicians Support Services industry, the role of Medical Technician is included under the TSS visa list of eligible occupations. Soon after the visa change, between July and September of 2017, the number of visas granted had decreased by 35.7% compared to the same quarter of the previous year. In effect, the 457 to 482 visa change may have a negative impact on the supply of Medical Technicians to the Australian workforce.

A lack of career progression is a significant problem in the hospital and health services pharmacy support, health administration and pathology sectors. At present, most Hospital Pharmacy Technicians/Assistants work within a flat career structure. One of the barriers to expanding the structure to senior-level positions is that certain Australian states insist upon academic requisites that are not covered by the Australian Medical Technician/Assistant curriculum. For example, in New South Wales a Level 4 Technician advancing to a senior-level role requires a management qualification. As a result, gaps are filled by highly trained Technicians from the United Kingdom or overseas-trained Pharmacists. To build a career structure for local Medical Technicians and Assistants, education and training should incorporate foundations that consider senior-level job roles and other possible future career paths.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians working as a team in the delivery of clinical pharmacy services may increase the capacity of pharmacist to deliver clinical services to individual patients. With appropriate education, training and competency assessment, pharmacy technicians can undertake a range of ward-based administrative, supply, technical and cognitive activities under the supervision of a pharmacist. The pharmacist remains legally and ethically accountable for clinical pharmacy services delivered to individual patients. Thus, any implementation of pharmacy technician services in a clinical pharmacy setting must have appropriate governance systems and reporting structures in place to ensure pharmacists are able to exercise these legal and ethical responsibilities and aspects of activities requiring clinical judgment are restricted to and/or supervised by the pharmacist. The Standard of Practice for Pharmacy Technicians to support Clinical Pharmacy Services summarises activities suitable for Pharmacy Technicians and Advanced Pharmacy Technicians, and provides further information on a suitable structured competency assessment for Advanced Pharmacy Technicians to undertake extended scope of practice.

COVID-19 impact

The following consider the impact of COVID-19 on the Technicians Support Services sector, primarily focusing on practice and education and accreditation. For further information please refer to government departments and industry bodies listed below under Links and resources.

The Australian Anaesthesia Allied Health Practitioners has published information for the Special Airway Society on COVID-19.

Optometry Australia provides links to information to a wide-range of information relating to COVID-19 and what optometrists need to know.

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australia provides COVID-19 Updates, including examination and training FAQs, continuing professional development requirements, courses and workshops and links to other COVID-19 related resources.

The COVID-19 Information Hub, published by the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA), includes resources for pharmacy departments, COVID-19 related continuing professional development, and COVID-19 hospital pharmacy preparation checklist, quick guides, and training and upskilling.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant research, organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.

 

Relevant research

Australia’s National Digital Health Strategy – Australian Digital Health Agency

Bridging the Gap Between Australian Pathology and University Education: Student Perceptions of a Career Pathway in Medical Laboratory Science – Rebecca Donkin and Mark Holmes

COVID-19 - What Optometrists Need to Know – Optometry Australia

COVID-19 Updates – The Royal College of Pathologists of Australia

Special Airway Society on COVID-19 – Australian Anaesthesia Allied Health Practitioners

Standard of Practice for Pharmacy Technicians to Support Clinical Pharmacy Services – Claire Bekema, Andreia Bruno-Tomé, Margie Butnoris, Jade Carter, Emily Diprose, Lorah Hickman, Rachael Raleigh, and Trudy L Teasdale

 

Government departments and agencies

ACT Health

Australian Government Department of Defence

Australian Government Department of Health

Northern Territory Government Department of Health

NSW Health

Queensland Health

SA Health

Tasmanian Government Department of Health

Victoria Government Department of Health and Human Services

Western Australia Government Department of Health

 

Peak bodies and industry associations

Australian Anaesthesia Allied Health Practitioners (AAAHP)

Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM)

Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA)

Federation of Sterilizing Research and Advisory Councils of Australia (FSRACA)

Hearing Aid Audiology Society of Australia (HAASA)

Optometry Australia

Public Pathology Australia

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA)

The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA)

 

Employee associations

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)

Health Services Union (HSU)

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2020, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2024
    • 3112 Medical Technicians
    • 4233 Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers
    • 1342 Health and Welfare Services Managers
    • 5122 Practice Managers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Employed persons by occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1 August 2020 https://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6291.0.55.003May%202020?OpenDocument

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit occupations, 2000 to 2020, May quarter
    • 3112 Medical Technicians
    • 4233 Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers
    • 1342 Health and Welfare Services Managers
    • 5122 Practice Managers.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses from the following training package or qualifications:

  • HLT – Health Training Package.
  • Anaesthetic Technology
    • HLT42612 – Certificate IV in Anaesthetic Technology
    • HLT50607 – Diploma of Paramedical Science (Anaesthesia)
    • HLT50612 - Diploma of Paramedical Science (Anaesthesia)
    • HLT57915 - Diploma of Anaesthetic Technology.
  • Audiometry and Hearing Device Prescription and Evaluation
    • HLT41307 - Certificate IV in Audiometric Assessment
    • HLT41312 - Certificate IV in Audiometric Assessment
    • HLT47415 - Certificate IV in Audiometry
    • HLT51307 - Diploma of Hearing Device Prescription and Evaluation
    • HLT57415 - Diploma of Audiometry.
  • Health Administration
    • HLT32907 - Certificate III in Health Administration
    • HLT32912 - Certificate III in Health Administration
    • HLT37315 - Certificate III in Health Administration
    • HLT43207 - Certificate IV in Health Administration
    • HLT43212 - Certificate IV in Health Administration
    • HLT47315 - Certificate IV in Health Administration.
  • Medical Practice Assisting and Cast Technology
    • HLT41412 - Certificate IV in Cast Technology
    • HLT43312 - Certificate IV in Medical Practice Assisting
    • HLT47715 - Certificate IV in Medical Practice Assisting.
  • Operating Theatre Technical Support
    • HLT42007 - Certificate IV in Operating Theatre Technical Support
    • HLT42012 - Certificate IV in Operating Theatre Technical Support
    • HLT47515 - Certificate IV in Operating Theatre Technical Support.
  • Optical Dispensing and Technology
    • HLT43507 - Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing
    • HLT43512 - Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing
    • HLT43707 - Certificate IV in Optical Technology
    • HLT43712 - Certificate IV in Optical Technology
    • HLT47815 - Certificate IV in Optical Dispensing.
  • Pathology
    • HLT32607 - Certificate III in Pathology
    • HLT32612 - Certificate III in Pathology
    • HLT37215 - Certificate III in Pathology Collection
    • HLT37415 - Certificate III in Pathology Assistance
    • HLT41807 - Certificate IV in Pathology
    • HLT41812 - Certificate IV in Pathology.
  • Pharmacy Support
    • HLT31412 - Certificate III in Hospital-Health Services Pharmacy Support
    • HLT37115 - Certificate III in Hospital/Health Services Pharmacy Support
    • HLT40507 - Certificate IV in Hospital/Health Services Pharmacy Support
    • HLT40512 - Certificate IV in Hospital-Health Services Pharmacy Support
    • HLT47115 - Certificate IV in Hospital/Health Services Pharmacy Support.
  • Practice Management
    • HLT52007 - Diploma of Practice Management
    • HLT52012 - Diploma of Practice Management
    • HLT57715 - Diploma of Practice Management.
  • Sterilisation Services
    • HLT31107 - Certificate III in Sterilisation Services
    • HLT31112 - Certificate III in Sterilisation Services
    • HLT37015 - Certificate III in Sterilisation Services
    • HLT43807 - Certificate IV in Sterilisation Services
    • HLT43812 - Certificate IV in Sterilisation Services
    • HLT47015 - Certificate IV in Sterilisation Services.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015 to 2019 program enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 program completions.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions, please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document.

Low counts (less than 5) are not reported to protect client confidentiality.

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place. This can lead to situations where the total sum of proportions in a chart may not add up to exactly 100%.

HLT – Health Training Package apprentice and trainee data has been extracted from the National Apprentice and Trainee Collection, including:

  • 2010 to 2019 commencements
  • 2010 to 2019 completions
  • 2019 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2019 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Technicians Support Services IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2020, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2020, https://www.burning-glass.com.

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2017 and June 2020 filtered by ANZSIC and ANZSCO classification levels listed below.

ANZSCO occupations have been used as industry filters because they provide more relevant job vacancy data for this sector.

  • Generic skills / Occupations / Employers
    • 3112 Medical Technicians
    • 1342 Health and Welfare Services Managers
    • 5122 Practice Managers.
Updated: 25 Nov 2020
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