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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, demand for workers in the health care and social assistance industry workforce is expected to continue, given the COVID-19 pandemic and Australia’s ageing population, according to the Australian Jobs 2021. This growth will undoubtedly include many job roles supported by these Training Package Products.

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

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 2001. Projections to 2025 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 and demand for Health and Welfare Services Managers is also expected to decrease slightly by 2025.

Training trends

Training snapshot

In 2020, program enrolments in Technicians Support Services-related qualifications increased to approximately 17,100, up from about 15,430 in 2019. Program completions, declined in 2020, to less than 4,390, down from approximately 5,480 in 2019.

Nearly two thirds of program enrolments in 2020 (63%) were at certificate III level, followed by 29% at certificate IV level and 8% at diploma or higher level. Program enrolments in the Technicians Support Services sector are spread across several qualification clusters, with higher proportions in Pathology (36%), Health Administration (31%) and Sterilisation Services (12%). The main intended occupations were Pathology Collector, followed by Health Practice Manager and Medical Receptionist.

Overall, more than half of the training delivered in 2020 was delivered by private training providers (52%), with TAFE institutes delivering nearly 42%. However, there was considerable variation depending on the different qualification clusters. For example, private training providers delivered very nearly all (99%) of Operating Theatre Technical Support qualifications, whereas TAFE institutes delivered all the training for Audiometry and Hearing Device Prescription and Evaluation qualifications and very nearly all (99%) of Anaesthetic Technology.

More than three-quarters (77%) of training was government funded in 2020, with nearly a quarter (22%) funded by domestic fee for service.

In 2020, New South Wales had the highest proportion of students enrolled in Technicians Support Services-related training (38%), followed by Victoria (23%) and Queensland (22%). The highest proportion of training was delivered in New South Wales (40%), with both Queensland and Victoria delivering about the same proportions (23%).

Commencements in apprenticeships and traineeships increased to approximately 750, up from about 500 in 2019. Completions also increased in 2020, up to approximately 230, from 150 in 2019. The main intended occupation for apprenticeships and traineeships was Optical Dispenser. In 2020, New South Wales had the highest proportion of apprentices and trainees in training (40%), followed by Victoria (23%) and Queensland (14%).

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 Technicians Support Services IRC's Skills Forecast – 2020 update (hereafter 2020 Annual Update) identified the top five short-to-medium term skills considered important across the workforce supported by the Technicians Support Services Training Package as communication, capacity to learn, emotional intelligence, flexibility, and resilience or stress tolerance.

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.

The 2020 Annual Update reports that the wide range of health care and social assistance roles across the sector have been impacted by COVID-19 in different ways (further information below). The other main challenges Technicians Support Services workforce face are advances in technology, access to skilled workers with practical experience and the lack of career progression.

Advances in technology

New technology is continually being introduced into practice reports the 2020 Annual Update, requiring the ability to learn and operate new equipment and adopt new procedures. In the health sector, the focus on the quality of service and customer experience has increased. Further, technology can help reduce the invasiveness of various procedures. New technology can change the equipment used in health assessments, health administration, as well as the devices people use to monitor their own health. Further, the transition to a national digital health care platform, My Health Record, requires knowledge on how to access and update patient records. Digital skills and knowledge are becoming increasingly important in Technicians Support Services sector job roles.

Advances in technology in hospital pharmacies to maximise the benefits offered through electronic systems and telehealth is considered in the Pharmacy Forecast Australia 2021.

Staff shortages

Some employers report they are experiencing difficulties in hiring skilled staff due to a shortage of skilled workers, limited applicants, a lack of existing workers with appropriate skills and an unwillingness to work nights, weekends or shifts. Evidence of shortages of certain skilled workers, such as anaesthetic technician, cardiac technician and medical laboratory technician, can be seen in the listing of these job roles as Skilled Occupations by the Australian Government. This enables an appropriately skilled person to migrate to Australia through the nominated skilled visa.

The need for new workers to have relevant technical skills and knowledge continues to be a challenge, and a lack of placement opportunities and resources to enable student supervision make it difficult for student to gain the practical experience required to complete a qualification and take up a job role. In regional and rural areas, the opportunities to gain on-the-job experience required adds further challenges to completing a qualification.

Further, the 2020 Annual Update reports the shortage of skilled workers in the sector is also due to an ageing workforce with a significant number of worker moving into retirement, reducing the number of workers with required skills, knowledge and experience. Further, this also impacts on the number of experienced workers available to share their knowledge with new entrants to the sector and job roles.

Lack of career progression

Across the Technicians Support Services workforce, the lack of career progression and retention of staff continue to be areas of concern. Access to training that is linked to clear career pathways will be beneficial to ensure assistants and technicians are provided with opportunities to enhance their skills and grow within the sector. This is an area currently being reviewed as part of the Technicians Support Services Training Package; see the suite of project in the 2020 Annual Update. The investment and development of pharmacy technical workforce is a recommendation of the Pharmacy Forecast Australia 2021.

COVID-19 impact

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many sectors significantly, with increased scrutiny on infection control, sterilisation practices and hygiene, which were areas of prominent concern due to the nature of the work of these businesses in wider Health sector. In many workplaces, additional measures have been put in place in response to COVID-19 to improve or reinforce practices to improve infection control and help keep patients and the workforce safe.

For further information about COVID-19 education and practice guidelines for the Technicians Support Services workforce, please refer to government departments and industry bodies listed below under Links and resources.

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 Jobs 2021 – National Skills Commission and National Careers Institute

Pharmacy Forecast Australia 2021 – Society of Hospital Pharmacies of Australia and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists

 

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

  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations, employment projections to May 2025
    • 3112 Medical Technicians
    • 4233 Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers
    • 1342 Health and Welfare Services Managers
    • 5122 Practice Managers.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2021, 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 2021 https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit occupations, 2001 to 2021, May quarter
    • 3112 Medical Technicians
    • 4233 Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers
    • 1342 Health and Welfare Services Managers
    • 5122 Practice Managers.

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, https://www.abs.gov.au/statistics/labour/employment-and-unemployment/labour-force-australia-detailed/may-2021

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit ‘3112 Medical Technicians’, ‘4233 Nursing Support and Personal Care Workers’, ‘1342 Health and Welfare Services Managers’ and ‘5122 Practice Managers’, 2001 to 2021, May Quarter.

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
  • Cardiac Technology
    • HLT42107 - Certificate IV in Cardiac Technology
    • HLT42112 - Certificate IV in Cardiac Technology
  • Clinical Coding
    • HLT50321 - Diploma of Clinical Coding
  • 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
  • Mortuary Theatre Practice
    • HLT32012 - Certificate III in Mortuary Theatre Practice
  • 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:

  • 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, https://www.burning-glass.com.

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
    • 3112 Medical Technicians
    • 1342 Health and Welfare Services Managers
    • 5122 Practice Managers.

 

Updated: 08 Nov 2021
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