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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 National Health Workforce Dataset (see the Enrolled Nurses 2019 factsheet) indicates the major employers of Enrolled Nurses are public and private hospitals. In 2019, slightly more Enrolled Nurses were working in the public sector (just over 21,070), compared with Enrolled nurses private sector (about 20,450).

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

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.

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The employment level for Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses has fluctuated between 2001 and 2021. In 2021 there were 26,700 Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses, a decrease from 28,800 in 2018. Employment is projected to grow to 28,100 by 2025.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Both program enrolments and completions in Enrolled Nursing-related qualifications increased in 2016 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 approximately 25,770 enrolments and 6,190 completions recorded in 2020. All enrolments were at the diploma or higher level and with all program enrolments across these higher-level qualifications leading to the intended occupation of Enrolled Nurse.

In 2020, TAFE institutes delivered nearly two-thirds (66%) of the Enrolled Nursing related qualifications, followed by private training providers (19%). Further, most of the training delivered was government funded (82%), with international (12%) and domestic (6%) fee for service accounting for the remaining proportions.

One third of student enrolments (33%) were reported for students located in Victoria in 2020, followed by Queensland (23%) and New South Wales (16%). More than one-tenth (11%) were reported for students located overseas . Overall, more than a third of Enrolled Nursing related qualifications were delivered in Victoria (36%), a quarter in Queensland (25%) and less than a fifth in New South Wales (18%).

There has been a decline in apprenticeship and traineeship commencements since the peak of approximately 390 in 2011. In 2020 there were only 24 commencements. In line with declining commencements, the number of completions has also decreased since the peak of approximately 240 in 2012. In 2020, there were only 6 completions. All the apprenticeships and traineeships had the intended occupation of Enrolled Nurse. More than three-quarters (78%) of apprenticeships and traineeships were reported by Victoria with the remaining 22% by South Australia.

For more data specific to your occupation, industry group or training package, visit NCVER’s Data Builder.

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 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 Government of Victoria.

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. These changes have 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.

Skills shortages

A combination of factors continues to drive the evolution of the clinical practices required of Enrolled Nurses, and the environments in which they work have changed significantly, shaping the evolution of Enrolled Nurses skill and competence requirements. These include changes to the Diploma of Nursing qualification, differing team environments, advancements in patient care and treatment, changing societal demographics, such as an ageing population, and treating and caring for vulnerable populations and people with chronic and acute conditions and comorbidities.

Technological innovation and development are also factors, with nurses increasingly using digital health technologies in the delivery of safe, quality and person-centred care. The National Nursing and Midwifery Digital Health Capability Framework, by the Australian Digital Health Agency outlines the core skills, knowledge and behaviours required for professional practice to guide contemporary practice that can be used by nurses and midwives, organisations and educators to help support professional development and training.

According to the Enrolled Nurses IRC 2019 Skills Forecast, the Australian health care system must keep pace with the impact of societal demands. To ensure these demands are met and to keep pace with the rapidly changing landscape, the Enrolled Nurses workforce requires ongoing skill development, particularly through the Health Training Package. The Enrolled Nurses IRC 2019 Skills Forecast, for example, identified that gerontology is an important skills and knowledge area in which the Enrolled Nurse workforce should be better equipped.

The Royal Commission into Aged Quality Care and Safety also recommends the incorporation of gerontology care into the Enrolled Nurse Accreditation standards, which the Commonwealth Government supports in principle (see Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety: Submissions by the Commonwealth). However, it states the curriculum delivered must be in accordance with the Health Training Package and that the recommendation be considered as part of a review of Enrolled Nursing skills requirements.

In response to the Review of HLT54120 Diploma of Nursing and HLT64120 Advanced Diploma of Nursing, the National Enrolled Nursing Advisory Council (NENAC) suggests that to achieve the best outcomes for students and employing industry, the qualification needs to be reviewed holistically and not only at a unit of competency level. Further to this, consideration needs to be given to the interplay between, and alignment with, the Enrolled Nursing Standards for Practice and the Enrolled Nursing accreditation standards to ensure best outcomes for students and the profession.

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 Enrolled Nurses as well as other skilled health professionals. Further, Enrolled Nurses working in remote communities are often tasked to take on activities (for example, 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.

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 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.

It is also critical that workforce strategies focus on attracting staff (and specifically graduates) to the profession and the wide range of settings Enrolled Nurses can work. An example of such is the Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program which includes an initiative that aims to drive apprenticeships and traineeships to increase the national skills base by providing additional payments where Australian Apprentices are working towards a Priority Occupation, which include Enrolled Nurses.

Ageing workforce

The ageing workforce trend presents a new challenge in adopting workplace arrangements that will retain a substantial level of mature-age workers. Three quarters (76%) of 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. Job redesign, for example, is being considered as the sector seeks to retain mature-age workers.

Retention of staff

The Enrolled Nursing IRC 2019 Skills Forecast reports that nearly a third of nurses were considered leaving the profession. Some of the reasons why nurses do leave are 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 several initiatives have been implemented 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.

Lack of career progression opportunities

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 (for example, position descriptions and roles available). The development of a stronger support system for continual learning (for example, 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.

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 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Australian Nursing & Midwifery Accreditation Council provides COVID-19 news and resources for nursing and midwifery students, health professionals, education providers and our other stakeholders.

Links and resources

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

IRC and skills forecasts


Relevant research

Australian Apprenticeships Incentives Program Guidelines – Department of Education, Skills and Employment

Coronavirus (COVID-19) news and resources – 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

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

National Nursing and Midwifery Digital Health Capability Framework – Australian Digital Health Agency

NENAC Response to the Review of HLT54120 Diploma of Nursing & HLT64120 Advanced Diploma of Nursing – National Enrolled Nursing Advisory Council

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

Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety: Submissions by the Commonwealth – Australian Government


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)

National Enrolled Nursing Advisory Council


Employee associations

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)

Health Services Union (HSU)

Data sources and notes

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

  • by ANZSCO 4 digit Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses, employment projections to May 2025.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 6291.0.55.001 - EQ08 - Employed persons by Occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards, viewed 1 August 2021

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit ‘Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses’, 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 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
    • HLT43407 - Certificate IV in Nursing (Enrolled/Division 2 nursing)
    • HLT51607 - Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled/Division 2 nursing)
    • HLT51612 - Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled-Division 2 nursing)
    • HLT54115 - Diploma of Nursing
    • HLT54121 – Diploma of Nursing
    • HLT61107 - Advanced Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled/Division 2 nursing)
    • HLT64115 - Advanced Diploma of Nursing
    • HLT64121 – Advanced Diploma of Nursing.

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2016 to 2020 program enrolments
  • 2016 to 2020 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:

  • 2011 to 2020 commencements
  • 2011 to 2020 completions 
  • apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2020 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.


Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2021, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2021,

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2018 and June 2021 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: 08 Nov 2021
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