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Enrolled Nursing


This page provides information and data on Enrolled Nursing, which is one component of the Health industry.

Enrolled Nurses play a key role in Australia's health system, providing care and treatment in a range of settings and under the supervision of a Registered Nurse. Where a person successfully completes the educational and clinical requirements of the Diploma of Nursing program (HLT54115) they are eligible to make an application to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) for registration as an Enrolled Nurse, provided the education provider and course they have completed hold current accreditation with the NMBA.

According to the Enrolled Nursing IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast, the Enrolled Nurse workforce represents just over 63,000 workers in Australia, and this is expected to grow significantly over the next few years. The major employers of Enrolled Nurses are public and private hospitals, and in 2017, approximately an equal proportion of Enrolled Nurses were working in the public sector (48.7%) as in the private sector (48.8%), with nearly half (47.1%) working in a hospital setting. Residential aged care facilities represented the second most common place of employment (29.7%).

Nationally recognised training for Enrolled Nursing is delivered under the HLT – Health Training Package.

Information sourced from the most recently available Skills Forecast, the Enrolled Nursing 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 Enrolled Nursing 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

The employment level for Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses has fluctuated between 2000 and 2020. In 2020 there were 20,400 Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses, a significant decline from 28,800 two years previously. Employment is projected to grow to 28,100 by 2024.

The National Health Workforce Dataset indicates there were 62,281 registered Enrolled Nurses in 2019.

Over half (54%) of Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses work in hospitals, and about a quarter (25%) are employed in the Aged Care Residential Services industry.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Both program enrolments and completions in Enrolled Nursing-related qualifications increased each year between 2015 and 2017, when enrolments peaked at roughly 27,880 and completions peaked at around 7,200 in 2017 and 2018. Total yearly enrolments and completions have since declined, with about 25,470 enrolments and just over 6,850 completions recorded in 2019. All enrolments were at the diploma or higher level and nearly all (99%) program enrolments in the Diploma of Nursing were leading to the intended occupation of Enrolled Nurse.

In 2019, TAFE institutes delivered nearly two-thirds (63%) of the qualifications leading to Enrolled Nursing, followed by private training providers at 23%. The majority of training was government funded (77%) with 9% funded by domestic fee for service and 14% by international fee for service.

About 31% of students were located in Victoria, 21% in Queensland, 16% in New South Wales and 15% from overseas. Approximately 36% of training was delivered in Victoria, followed by 24% in Queensland and 19% in New South Wales.

There has been a decline in apprenticeship and traineeship commencements since the peak of approximately 390 in 2011. In 2019 there were only 22 commencements. There has also been a decline in apprenticeship and traineeship completions since the peak of approximately 240 in 2012. In 2019 there were only 13 completions. All the apprenticeships and traineeships had the intended occupation of Enrolled Nurse. Over three-quarters (77%) of apprenticeships and traineeships were reported by Victoria with the remaining 23% by South Australia.

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Industry insights

Industry insights on skills needs

The Enrolled Nursing IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast identified the top priority skills for the sector as emotional intelligence, teamwork and communication, critical thinking, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility and technical / job specific skills.

The top five identified generic skills are:

  • Communication / Virtual collaboration / Social intelligence
  • Design mindset / Thinking critically / System thinking / Solving problems
  • Learning agility / Information literacy / Intellectual autonomy and self-management (adaptability)
  • Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM) skills
  • Language, Literacy and Numeracy (LLN) (Foundation skills).

According to the job vacancy data, the top requested skills by employers in the sector were communication skills and computer literacy. The most advertised occupations were Enrolled Nurse, followed by Endorsed Enrolled Nurse. The top employers were the New South Wales Government and the Victorian Government.

According to the Enrolled Nursing IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast, both the health care environment in which Enrolled Nurses work and their clinical practices have evolved significantly in recent times. Such change has resulted in evolving skill and competence requirements for the Enrolled Nurse workforce. The sector overall has been experiencing several challenges which are impacting workforce skill requirements and, in summary, include:

  • Skills shortages
  • An ageing workforce
  • Low retention of staff
  • Lack of career progression opportunities
  • The initiation of the first independent review of Australian nursing preparation since 2002 – Educating the Nurse of the Future.

In recent times the clinical practices required of Enrolled Nurses and the environments in which they work have evolved significantly. Such changes have resulted in evolving skill and competence requirements for the Enrolled Nurse workforce, which are quite different to those that were required a decade ago. Ongoing reviews and changes to the Diploma of Nursing qualification have been driven by a combination of factors, such as variations in employment modalities and models, as well as the emergence of increased numbers of part-time workers and a casualisation of the workforce. Similarly, there are differing team environments, combined with advancements in patient care and treatment, and technology innovation and development, together with the changing nature of patient demographics, an ageing society, chronic and acute conditions, and comorbidities. For example, Enrolled Nurses and other health care professionals are increasingly treating and caring for vulnerable population groups who present challenging health care needs requiring specific technical and interpersonal skills.

The Australian health care system must keep pace with the impact of societal demands. The requirements for ongoing skill development in the Enrolled Nurse workforce is therefore required within the educational sector, particularly through the Health Training Package, to ensure Australian workplaces are equipped with the required human resources to accommodate the rapidly changing landscape. The impact of an ageing population necessitates an increase in both the understanding and treatment of the social, physical and cognitive health care issues of all Australians, which is amplified in older Australians. Gerontology is an important skills and knowledge area in which the Enrolled Nurse workforce should be better equipped in order to ensure that the current and future demand for services by older Australians is supported. The Enrolled Nurse will become an essential resource for clinical assessment, care planning and the case management of services to frail and vulnerable consumers in the health care environment.

Overall, skills shortages will continue to cause ongoing and significant problems for the health sector. It has been estimated that the employment shortfall of Enrolled Nurses and Registered Nurses will reach approximately 85,000 by 2025.

The challenges of skills shortages (and overall workforce supply shortages) are further heightened in regional and remote communities. Geographical isolation and low populations are some of the factors which present challenges to health providers in these communities in terms of accessing skilled health professionals, including Enrolled Nurses. Enrolled Nurses working in remote communities are often tasked to take on activities (e.g. mental health care) that might not necessarily be within the scope of the role in other locations, in order to meet the health demands of patients; and overall in these environments they work with little supervision. It therefore continues to be of importance for these communities that workforce strategies focus on attracting staff (and specifically graduates) to these areas.

The ageing workforce trend presents a new challenge in adopting workplace arrangements that will retain a substantial level of mature-age workers. Three in four (76%) Enrolled Nurses are aged 35 years of age or over. The average age of an Enrolled Nurse is 46 years which is significantly higher than the national job age average of 40 years.

Some of the reasons as to why nurses actually leave their profession include poor levels of pay, working conditions, an increased workload, greater complexity of patient care and poor recognition of the skills and knowledge required to be a nurse. In recent times a number of initiatives have been embarked upon by the federal government in an attempt to address the sustainability of the health care workforce, particularly in nursing, and to improve recruitment and retention of both Registered and Enrolled Nurses. Such initiatives have included the Clinical Training Funding (CTF) program, the Rural Health Professionals program and the Expanded Scope of Practice program. The research An integrative review of Enrolled Nurse recruitment and retention, explores the factors impacting recruitment and retention of Enrolled Nurses.

The Enrolled Nursing Training Package Products provide individuals with a learning and employment pathway into Enrolled Nursing occupations and facilitate further learning progression opportunities via an Advanced Diploma and/or Higher Education qualification. In instances where career pathways are established, courses and training are clearly important, but the accessibility of these courses and training, together with varying state/territory requirements, can be an issue (e.g. position descriptions and roles available). The development of a stronger support system for continual learning (e.g. informal education, part-time courses and conferences) and career progression for Enrolled Nurses will improve job satisfaction and will positively contribute to the quality of patient care.

An independent review of nursing preparation in Australia, Educating the Nurse of the Future, was announced as a measure within the 2018/19 Federal Budget. Led by Emeritus Professor Steven Schwartz AM, the Review was future focussed and covered the education preparation of nurses, as well as the factor that influence people to choose nursing as an occupation. It also looks at how other countries view Australian nursing education. The review found much that is excellent about nursing education, but it also found areas that could be improved. These include increasing the diversity of the nursing workforce, providing easily navigable career paths, fostering inter-professional collaboration, and ensuring that all nurses are adequately prepared for their roles.

In the article Issues Impacting on Enrolled Nurse Education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students: A Discussion, the authors highlight the concerning fact that the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students graduating from Diploma of Nursing courses in the vocational education and training sector has failed to translate into registrations as Enrolled Nurses. The article also explores research focussed on why the uptake of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students into nursing has stalled and their attrition from tertiary nursing courses is considerably higher than for other students. The authors argue that more research that contributes robust evidence-based knowledge specifically on strategies addressing issues in Enrolled Nursing education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students and their employment uptake is required.

COVID-19 impact

The following consider the impact of COVID-19 on the Enrolled Nursing 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 COVID-19 Nurses Support Strategy, developed by the Australian College of Nursing, addresses the professional issues nurses are facing across the system – for members and non-members. It focuses on information, upskilling, advocacy, support for nurses, health system reforms for professional practice and community awareness.

The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia (NMBA) has updated and introduced new policies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and are available from the online resource COVID-19 guidance for nurses and wives. The changes reflect the NMBA’s existing policy and standards framework and recognise the unprecedented new environment nurses and midwives are now practising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Nursing & Midwifery Accreditation Council has published a range of communiques regarding COVID-19 specifically for education providers and assessors.

Links and resources

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


Relevant research

An integrative review of Enrolled Nurse recruitment and retention – Nicole Blay and Louise E. Smith

Coronavirus (COVID-19) communiques – Australian Nursing & Midwifery Accreditation Council

COVID-19 guidance for nurses and wives – Nursing and Midwifery Board

COVID-19 Nurses Support Strategy – Australian College of Nursing

Educating the Nurse of the Future: Independent Review of Nursing Education – led by Emeritus Professor Steven Schwartz AM

Issues Impacting on Enrolled Nurse Education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Students: A Discussion – Jennifer H. Cramer, Judith Dianne Pugh, Susan Slatyer, Diane E. Twigg and Melanie Robinson

Nursing Education: Enrolled Nurse – Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC)

Valuing Enrolled Nurses: A Study to Better Understand the Investment Education and Training Have on the Retention of Enrolled Nurses – Rebecca J. Leon, Jaimie H. Tredoux and Suzanne M. Foster


Government departments and agencies

ACT Health

Australian Government Department of Health

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Accreditation Council (ANMAC)

Northern Territory Government Department of Health

NSW Health

Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia

Queensland Health

SA Health

Tasmanian Government Department of Health

Victoria Government Department of Health and Human Services

Western Australia Government Department of Health


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA)

Australian College of Nursing (ACN)

Australian Healthcare and Hospitals Association (AHHA)

Australian Private Hospitals Association (APHA)

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

Leading Age Services Australia (LASA)


Employee associations

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)

Health Services Union (HSU)

National Enrolled Nurse Association of Australia (NENA)

Data sources and notes

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

  • by ANZSCO 4 digit Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses, employment projections to May 2024.

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

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses, 2000 to 2020, 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 ANZSCO 4 digit Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses, and 4 digit level industry sectors.

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
    • HLT64115 - Advanced Diploma of Nursing
    • HLT61107 - Advanced Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled/Division 2 nursing)
    • HLT43407 - Certificate IV in Nursing (Enrolled/Division 2 nursing)
    • HLT54115 - Diploma of Nursing
    • HLT51607 - Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled/Division 2 nursing)
    • HLT51612 - Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled-Division 2 nursing).

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 Enrolled Nursing 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,

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
    • 4114 Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses.
Updated: 20 Oct 2021
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