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Record number of new nurses in 2023, TAFE NSW giving young people a career head-start

TAFE NSW Lismore

Record number of new nurses in 2023, TAFE NSW giving young people a career head-start

TAFE NSW is meeting the demand of the healthcare workforce by providing a pipeline of skilled workers, including some bright young students looking to carve out a lifelong career in healthcare.

The nursing workforce has grown by almost 6% in the year to May 2023, and has overtaken building as the third most common non-school qualification in Australia. This trend couldn’t come at a better time, with demand for nurses set to grow by close to 14% over the next three years.

Katharine Duffy, Director of Nursing and Midwifery, Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD), said qualified nurses play an integral role in providing high-quality, compassionate, and person-centred care to all patients across the region.

“Nursing education spans a vast range of knowledge and capabilities, and Enrolled nurses and Assistants in Nursing also form a critical part of our nursing workforce. NNSWLHD values our partnership with TAFE NSW in providing education and training for nurses at certificate and diploma level.”

Ms Duffy said 2023 has seen a record number of new nurses and midwives enter the NNSWLHD.

“This year, a record 178 new nurses and midwives started working for NNSWLHD. This is an increase on the 163 new graduates employed in 2022, and NNSWLHD expects to take on even more graduate nurses in 2024,” she said.

At the time of year when many young Australians are considering career pathways, 17 year-old TAFE NSW Lismore student, John Ray, is a step ahead of the pack. The year 11 Mullumbimby High School student started his journey to a Certificate III in Health Services Assistance (Assistant in Nursing) in year 10.

“I’ve always had an interest in the medical field, and my high school offered an eight-week TAFE NSW trial course to help us find something we were interested in. The nursing course was really interesting, and I thought it was a good way to get a head start and secure jobs in this field.”

This skills John has gained have enabled him to volunteer at the Byron Shire Respite Centre in Brunswick Heads.

“I was able to apply everything I learned at TAFE NSW to my role. It was extremely rewarding, and I was able to help clients living with dementia. I’ve learned a lot about patience and understanding, and how to talk to and reassure clients.”

John said the TAFE NSW environment has prepared him to excel the workforce.

“My TAFE NSW teachers are so helpful, and our classroom is a simulated clinical environment, with real hospital beds and facilities that we use to role play. My training has helped me become more mindful of how to deliver help and assistance for my clients in the workplace.

Ms Duffy said students like John are an essential part of enabling the future workforce.

“We always look forward to welcoming each new cohort of nurses and to supporting them as they transition into their roles,” she said.

Media contact: Emily Graham, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist,, 02 7921 3756.