TAFE NSW is fulfilling a critical role in supplying a pipeline of skilled workers to the veterinary workforce, at a significant time for an industry that is worth billions to the Australian economy.
With almost two thirds of Australian households owning pets, the National Skills Commission projects demand for veterinary nurses to grow 17% by 2025. A current Upper House enquiry into the NSW Veterinary Workforce Shortage is investigating the challenges affecting veterinary nurses, among many other factors, and considering new strategies to support the current workforce, including education and training.
Chair of the enquiry, the Hon. Mark Banasiak MLC, said the effects of the shortage were far-reaching and that TAFE NSW plays a crucial role.
“The work of vets and vet nurses is vital for the health and welfare of all animals, and many people and organisations across the state rely on their expert skills – from pet owners and farmers to welfare and rescue organisations, breeders, industry, government, and researchers.
“While there's an increasing demand for their services, we know there's a shortage of vet workers and I can’t foresee any outcome of the enquiry where TAFE NSW isn’t a big part of the solution,” Mr Banasiak said.
Brooke Koster, Head of Surgery Nurses at SASH Small Animal Specialist Hospital, echoed Mr Banasiak’s sentiments.
“TAFE NSW is so valuable in showing people what a career in animal care can be like. I’m hopeful that the outcomes of the inquiry lead to supporting TAFE NSW to continue to equip students with the skills they need to enter the industry,” Ms Koster said.
TAFE NSW Gosford Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing graduate, Chris Akins, was the only male in his cohort, with females representing 95% of veterinary nurses. Chris acknowledged the role TAFE NSW played in his career pathway.
“I came from a career in professional sport, but I wanted a career with more security. Something I loved as much as football was my dog, and I knew TAFE NSW was the best way for me to start a career in animal care.
“I started with Certificate III in Companion Animal Services at TAFE NSW Kurri Kurri and, buoyed by the support I received from my teachers I went on to study the Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing.
“I started working at SASH in Tuggerah while I was studying at TAFE NSW and have rotated through multiple departments, including oncology. A memorable experience from my early experience was when I assisted with the administration of chemotherapy for a cockatiel with testicular cancer.
"No two days are the same in this industry, and I credit my hands-on training during my TAFE NSW work placement for preparing me for any patient that comes through the doors,” Chris said.
Chris, 30, is now studying a Bachelor of Veterinary Technology via distance at Charles Sturt University to further hone his skills and has recently secured a promotion to a specialised nursing role at SASH in North Ryde. Brooke Koster said Chris is an asset to SASH.
“Chris is hardworking, productive and great at what he does,” she said.
Media contact: Emily Graham, TAFE NSW Communications Specialist, firstname.lastname@example.org, 02 7921 3756.