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This page provides high-level information and data on the Health industry which comprises the following industry sectors:

More information on these sectors, their Industry Reference Committees and Skills Forecasts can be found on their respective sector pages.

Nationally recognised training for Health is delivered under the HLT – Health Training Package. The relevant Skills Service Organisation for this industry is SkillsIQ.

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

Industry cluster snapshot

Employment and training snapshot

The Health Care and Social Assistance industry is the largest employing industry in Australia. In 2021 there were over 1.8 million people employed in this industry, which is projected to increase to more than 2.0 million by 2025.

Occupations related to the HLT – Health Training Package make up around a third of the Health Care and Social Assistance workforce. Indeed, some occupation groups within the sector comprise sizable proportions of the total workforce, including Aged and Disabled Carers (around 9%), and Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers, and Receptionists (about 6% each). Employment projections to 2025 indicate significant growth in Aged and Disabled Carers (about 45%) and strong growth in Welfare and Support Workers (approximately 15%).

Program enrolments in the Health Training Package increased in 2020, to nearly 97,070. Program completions have continued to fall over recent years, to approximately 27,680 in 2020. The number of subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised program grew slightly in 2020 to over 1.2 million, after steady declines between 2016 and 2019. Conversely, the number of subjects delivered that are not part of a nationally recognised program grew significantly from 2016 to 2019, before a drop to 2.8 million in 2020.

Industry insights on skills needs

The work environment across all industries, including Health, is continuously evolving to adapt to external and internal industry trends. The COVID-19 pandemic, skilled staff shortages, government policies and/or legislation changes, lack of career progression and retention of staff, an ageing population, and technology are the most common ongoing trends driving change across the Health industry.

Many job roles in the Health industry have been impacted by one or more of issues and, as a result, so too have the skill needs of the workforce. While technical skills to perform job tasks are imperative, employers in the short-to-medium future will be looking beyond these, and have indicated that it will be important for workers in their organisations to be equipped with key interpersonal skills such as emotional intelligence, critical thinking, teamwork and communication, and resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility.

For an analysis of skills needs for specific Health sectors, please see the relevant sector pages.

COVID-19 impact

Many of Australia’s healthcare workforce are on the frontline of its health response to COVID-19. Indeed, the response has shown the essential role of the healthcare workforce and providers in caring for Australians, including the most vulnerable people (Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association [AHHA]).

At the time of writing, the worldwide pandemic continues, and its full impact of the country’s health workforce is ongoing . However, it is evident the healthcare workforce was impacted in different ways. Social distancing restrictions has, at times, required the closure of some industries, particularly those related to Complementary Health, while other health-related and allied health services continued to operate.

COVID-19 has required healthcare workers to adapt; to help, the Australian Government’s Department of Health has published Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for the health and disability sector and the Communicable Diseases Network Australia has released Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) has also published a comprehensive suite of information Responding to COVID-19 in support of health practitioners providing safe care to their communities.

As such, the response to the pandemic has highlighted opportunities, particularly around telehealth. The rapid rise in telehealth services in 2020 (Telehealth in Australia During COVID-19 and Beyond: Insights) and its ongoing use indicates Australians are open to using telehealth services, presenting new opportunities and challenges. For example, KPMG, argues telehealth services can broaden the accessibility, availability and awareness of mental health services and support available to the community.

Tele-dentistry is also emerging with uses in online screening, treatment planning and referral. In Australia, tele-dentistry could be used for coaching in oral health.

The ongoing use, and possible expansion, of telehealth is not without its challenges. Maximising the effectiveness of remote consultations requires strong communication skills (as summarised in Telehealth Communication Skills) and empathy, known as ‘webside’ or ‘screenside manners’ (What Skills Do you Need to Work in the Flourishing Telehealth Industry). Likewise, patients’ require a skill set to maximise the benefits of telehealth, to effectively comprehend, navigate and troubleshoot digital interfaces, according to a journal article in Seminars in Oncology Nursing.

Cybersecurity is also an important issue; from July to December 2019, Australia’s health sector accounted for 22% of all data breaches, making it the highest reporting sector in Australia according to an article published by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). The RAGCP has developed resources around information security, including the Guide to information backup in general practice and Responding to a cybersecurity incident. More broadly, digital transformation is expected across the healthcare sector and the Australian Government has released the National Digital Health Workforce and Education Roadmap, stating the digital transformation of health services can only occur with a skilled, digitally capable workforce.

For further information about COVID-19 in a specific healthcare industry, please see industry sector pages. Links are available at the top of this page.

Links and resources

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

Relevant research


Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice for the health and disability sector – Australian Government Department of Health

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Outbreaks in Residential Care Facilities - Communicable Diseases Network Australia

COVID-19: Opportunities in Mental Health Through Virtual Care - KPMG

Guide to information backup in general practices – Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

Health sector remains biggest reporter of data breaches – Anastasia Tsirtsakis

Responding to a cybersecurity incident – Royal Australian College of General Practitioners

Responding to COVID-19 – Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

Telehealth Coaching in Oral Healthcare – Dr Chris Bourke, Andrew McAuliffe, Dr Kavita Lobo, Dr Zoe Wainer

Telehealth Communication Skills -Ausmed

Telehealth in Australia during COVID-19 and Beyond: Insights – Dr Claire Naughtin

The Role of Telehealth During COVID-19 Pandemic Across the Interdisciplinary Cancer Team: Implications for Practice - Catherine Paterson, Rachel Bacon, Rebecca Dwyer, Kittani Morrison, Kellie Toohey, Amy O’Dea, James Slade, Reza Mortazavi, Cara Roberts, Ganes Pranavan, Corrina Cooney, Irmina Nahon and Sandi Hayes

What Skills do you Need to Work in the Flourishing Telehealth Industry – U2B Education for Careers (US)


Government departments and agencies

ACT Health

Ambulance Tasmania

Ambulance Victoria

Australian Government Department of Defence

Australian Government Department of Health

Northern Territory Government Department of Health

NSW Ambulance

NSW Health

New South Wales Ministry of Health

NT WorkSafe

Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS)

Queensland Health

SA Ambulance Service

SA Health

Safe Work Australia

SafeWork NSW

SafeWork SA

Tasmanian Government Department of Health

Victoria Government Department of Health and Human Services

Western Australia Government Department of Health

WorkSafe ACT

WorkSafe Queensland

WorkSafe Tasmania

WorkSafe Victoria

WorkSafe WA


Peak and industry associations

Aboriginal Health & Medical Research Council of New South Wales (AH&MRC)

Aboriginal Health Council of South Australia (AHCSA)

Aboriginal Health Council of Western Australia (AHCWA)

Aboriginal Medical Services Alliance Northern Territory (AMSANT)

ACT Ambulance Service (ACTAS)

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA)

Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT (ATODA)

Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs Council Tasmania (ATDC)

Allied Health Professions Australia (AHPA)

Ambulance Employees Association of South Australia (AEA)

Association of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies NT (AADANT)

Association of Massage Therapists (AMT)

Australasian Association of Ayurveda (AAA)

Australasian Ayurvedic Practitioners Association (AAPA)

Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA)

Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association (AACMA)

Australian Anaesthesia Allied Health Practitioners (AAAHP)

Australasian College of Paramedicine (ACP)

Australian Association of Massage Therapists (AAMT)

Australian Association of Practice Management (AAPM)

Australian College of Nursing (ACN)

Australian Community Workers Association (ACWA)

Australian Dental and Oral Health Therapists’ Association (ADOHTA)

Australian Dental Association (ADA)

Australian Dental Council (ADC)

Australian Dental Prosthetists Association (ADPA)

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA)

Australian Institute of Kinesiologists (AIK)

Australian Kinesiology Association (AKA)

Australian Natural Therapists Association (ANTA)

Australian Naturopathic Practitioners Association (ANPA)

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC)

Australian Paramedics Association (NSW)

Australian Paramedics Association (Queensland)

Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA)

Australian Red Cross

Australian Register of Homoeopaths (AROH)

Australian Resuscitation Council

Australian Traditional Medicine Society (ATMS)

Carers Australia

Catholic Health Australia (CHA)

Community Mental Health Australia (CMHA)

Community Services, Health and Education Training Council (CSH&ETC)

Congress of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Nurses and Midwives (CATSINaM)

Dental Assistants Professional Association (DAPA)

Dental Board of Australia

Dental Hygienists Association of Australia (DHAA)

Diversional and Recreation Therapy Australia (DRTA)

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

First Aid Industry Alliance (FAIA) (formerly Australian Emergency Care Providers)

Health and Community Services Workforce Council [Queensland]

Health Care Complaints Entities in most jurisdictions

Hearing Aid Audiology Society of Australia (HAASA)

International Aromatherapy and Aromatic Medicine Association (IAAMA)

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA)

Massage & Myotherapy Australia

Medicines Australia

Mental Health Australia

Ministerial Drug and Alcohol Forum (MDAF)

National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Worker Association (NATSIHWA)

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO)

National Council of Ambulance Unions

National Disability Services (NDS)

National Enrolled Nurse Association of Australia (NENA)

National Institute of First Aid Trainers (NIFAT)

Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia (NHAA)

Network of Alcohol and Other Drugs Agencies (NSW) (NADA)

Optometry Australia

Oral Health Professionals Association (OHPA)

Paramedics Australasia

Public Pathology Australia

Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC)

Queensland Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies (QNADA)

Reflexology Association of Australia (RAoA)

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)

Royal Life Saving Society Australia

Shiatsu Therapy Association of Australia (STAA)

South Australian Network of Drug and Alcohol Services (SANDAS)

St John Ambulance Australia

St John Ambulance Australia (NT)

St John Ambulance Australia (WA)

Surf Life Saving Australia

Tasmanian Aboriginal Corporation trading as Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC)

The Council of Ambulance Authorities (CAA)

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA)

The Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA)

Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (VACCHO)

Victorian Alcohol and Drug Association (VAADA)

Western Australian Network of Alcohol and Other Drug Agencies (WANADA)


Employee associations

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)

Australian Services Union (ASU)

Health and Community Services Union (HACSU)

Health Services Union (HSU)

Transport Workers’ Union (TWU)

United Workers Union



Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care (ACSQHC)

Australian Government Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA)

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2021, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 1 digit industry, Health Care and Social Assistance, employment projections to May 2025.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ06 - Employed persons by Industry group of main job (ANZSIC), viewed 1 August 2021

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 1 digit 'Health Care and Social Assistance’, 2001 to 2021, May Quarter.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 1 digit industry, Health Care and Social Assistance, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.


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.
Updated: 29 Oct 2021
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