Education and training are an important medium-term strategy to help tackle labour market shortages. There are marked labour shortages in all sectors of the profession, particularly early career, rural and regional veterinarians. Without veterinarians in rural and regional areas Australia risks security of food production and elevated bio-security risks.
Veterinary education is expensive to deliver and student experiences particularly in the rural and regional sectors come at an increasing cost to both veterinary students and the veterinary profession. This results in fewer graduates working in rural and regional areas. Given the importance of the veterinary profession to society and the role the profession plays in biosecurity, food security, human health and well-being, it is critical that veterinary positions in rural and regional Australia can be filled.
It is well understood that attrition is an issue in the veterinary profession. Low rates of pay compared to other professions such as medicine, engineering, dentistry, significant educational debt and difficult working conditions combine to make the industry an unattractive one financially to remain in long-term. There is a significant attrition rate in the profession during the first ten years of practice. It is recognised that along with remuneration, factors such as the workplace environment and career opportunities contribute to decision by veterinarians to leave the profession.
The profession is concerned that the community does not understand the contribution of the veterinary profession and it is essential this rectified. To achieve this evidence on the workforce sustainability of the profession is essential.