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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.

The major employers of Enrolled Nurses are public and private hospitals, and the most recent statistics show that across the country, the Enrolled Nurse workforce represents just over 63,000 workers. In 2017, approximately an equal proportion of Enrolled Nurses were working in the public sector (48.7%) as in the private sector (48.8%), with nearly half (47.1%) working in a hospital setting. Residential aged care facilities represented the second most common place of employment (29.7%).

The Health Care and Social Assistance industry workforce, including Enrolled Nursing roles, is expected to grow significantly over the next five years, with forecasts indicating it will reach 1.9 million workers in 2023. Future demand for Enrolled Nurse job roles is expected to increase by approximately 7.6% during the next five years.

To address workforce skills issues, it is proposed that two qualifications, namely the Diploma of Nursing and the Advanced Diploma of Nursing, including 36 units of competency and one skill set within the HLT – Health Training Package relating to Enrolled Nursing, be updated in 2019–2020 to align with contemporary industry requirements.

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

Information sourced from the Enrolled Nursing IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

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.

IRC and Skills Forecasts

Employment trends

Employment snapshot

The employment level for Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses has fluctuated between 2000 and 2019. In 2019 there were 25,300 Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses, a significant decline from 28,800 in the previous year. Employment is projected to grow to 28,100 by 2024.

The National Health Workforce Dataset indicates there were 59,576 registered Enrolled Nurses in 2016. The ABS labour market data shows that the employment level for Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses has fluctuated over the past few years. In 2018, there were 28,800 Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses, a similar number to the 27,500 in 2000.  Employment numbers are expected to decline slightly to 26,300 by 2023.

Other data shows the decline in the number of Enrolled Nurses coincides with an increase in the employment level of Registered Nurses.   

Over half of Enrolled Nurses work in hospitals, and about a quarter are employed in the Aged Care Residential Services industry.

Training trends

Training snapshot

Program enrolments and completions in Enrolled Nursing-related qualifications increased each year between 2015 and 2017. Enrolments peaked at roughly 27,880 in 2017, before decreasing to around 26,170 in 2018. Completions peaked at roughly 7,200 in 2017, before decreasing to around 6,810 in 2018. All enrolments in 2018 were at the diploma or higher level, with the highest proportion of enrolments in the Diploma of Nursing (85%). The qualifications all had the intended occupation of Enrolled Nurse.

In 2018, TAFE institutes provided the majority of training at 57%, followed by private training providers at 31%. The majority of training was government funded (66%) with 18% funded by domestic fee for service and 16% by international fee for service.

About 29% of students were located in Victoria, 21% in Queensland, 16% overseas and 15% in New South Wales. Approximately 35% of training was delivered in Victoria, followed by 24% in Queensland and 18% in New South Wales.

There has been a decline in apprenticeship and traineeship commencements since the peak of just over 390 in 2011. In 2018 there were only 9 commencements. There has also been a decline in apprenticeship and traineeship completions since the peak of just over 240 in 2012. In 2018 there were only 9 completions. All the apprenticeships and traineeships had the intended occupation of Enrolled Nurse. Almost all the apprenticeships and traineeships were reported in Victoria (90% with the remaining 10% in South Australia).

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For more data specific to your region please visit NCVER’s Atlas of Total VET.

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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 top employers were the New South Wales Government and the Government of Victoria.

According to the Enrolled Nursing IRC's 2019 Skills Forecast, in recent times both the health care environment in which Enrolled Nurses work and their clinical practices have evolved significantly. Such change has 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.

In recent times the clinical practices required of Enrolled Nurses and the environments in which they work have evolved significantly. Such changes have resulted in evolving skill and competence requirements for the Enrolled Nurse workforce, which are quite different to those that were required a decade ago. Ongoing reviews and changes to the Diploma of Nursing qualification have been driven by a combination of factors, such as variations in employment modalities and models, as well as the emergence of increased numbers of part-time workers and a casualisation of the workforce. Similarly, there are differing team environments, combined with advancements in patient care and treatment, and technology innovation and development, together with the changing nature of patient demographics, an ageing society, chronic and acute conditions, and comorbidities. For example, Enrolled Nurses and other health care professionals are increasingly treating and caring for vulnerable population groups who present challenging health care needs requiring specific technical and interpersonal skills.

The Australian health care system must keep pace with the impact of societal demands. The requirements for ongoing skill development in the Enrolled Nurse workforce is therefore required within the educational sector, particularly through the Health Training Package, to ensure Australian workplaces are equipped with the required human resources to accommodate the rapidly changing landscape. The impact of an ageing population necessitates an increase in both the understanding and treatment of the social, physical and cognitive health care issues of all Australians, which is amplified in older Australians. Gerontology is an important skills and knowledge area in which the Enrolled Nurse workforce should be better equipped in order to ensure that the current and future demand for services by older Australians is supported. The Enrolled Nurse will become an essential resource for clinical assessment, care planning and the case management of services to frail and vulnerable consumers in the health care environment.

Overall, skills shortages will continue to cause ongoing and significant problems for the health sector. It has been estimated that the employment shortfall of Enrolled Nurses and Registered Nurses will reach approximately 85,000 by 2025.

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 skilled health professionals, including Enrolled Nurses. Enrolled Nurses working in remote communities are often tasked to take on activities (e.g. 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. It therefore continues to be of importance for these communities that workforce strategies focus on attracting staff (and specifically graduates) to these areas.

The ageing workforce trend presents a new challenge in adopting workplace arrangements that will retain a substantial level of mature-age workers. Three in four (76%) Enrolled Nurses are aged 35 years of age or over. The average age of an Enrolled Nurse is 46.0 years which is significantly higher than the national job age average of 40.0 years.

Some of the reasons as to why nurses actually leave their profession include 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 a number of initiatives have been embarked upon by the federal government 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 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 (e.g. position descriptions and roles available). The development of a stronger support system for continual learning (e.g. 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.

An independent review of nursing preparation in Australia, Educating the Nurse of the Future, was announced as a measure within the 2018/19 Federal Budget. Led by Emeritus Professor Steven Schwartz AM, the Review was future focussed and considered how the education and preparation of nurses in Australia would ensure the nursing workforce is well placed to meet the future needs of Australian communities and the health system. The Review considered the attraction into nursing as a career, international competitiveness of Australian based education programs and articulation and career paths of the preparation programs for Enrolled and Registered Nurses and Nurse Practitioners. The Review also had regard to regional needs and circumstances and national and international trends, research, policies, inquiries and previous reviews related to nursing education.

Professor Schwartz has submitted the final report to Minister Hunt following completion of the Review. The report will be considered by government and a plan for public release will be developed. There is no fixed date for the release of the report available at this time.

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 research focussed on 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.

Links and resources

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

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)

Employee associations

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF)

Health Services Union (HSU)

National Enrolled Nurse Association of Australia (NENA)

Relevant research

Educating the Nurse of the Future: Independent Review of Nursing Education – led by Emeritus Professor Steven Schwartz AM

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

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

Valuing Enrolled Nurses: a Study to Better Understand the Investment Education and Training Have on the Retention of Enrolled Nurses – Rebecca J. Leon, Jaimie H. Tredoux and Suzanne M. Foster

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2018, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal  

  • by ANZSCO 4 digit Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses, employment projections to May 2023.

Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018, Employed persons by Occupation unit group of main job (ANZSCO), Sex, State and Territory, August 1986 onwards 6291.0.55.003 - EQ08, viewed 1st November  2018

  • Employed total by ANZSCO 4 digit Enrolled and Mothercraft Nurses, 2000 to 2018, 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
    • HLT64115 - Advanced Diploma of Nursing
    • HLT61107 - Advanced Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled/Division 2 nursing)
    • HLT43407 - Certificate IV in Nursing (Enrolled/Division 2 nursing)
    • HLT54115 - Diploma of Nursing
    • HLT51607 - Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled/Division 2 nursing)
    • HLT51612 - Diploma of Nursing (Enrolled-Division 2 nursing).

This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

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

  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 program enrolments
  • 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 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:

  • 2010 to 2018 commencements
  • 2010 to 2018 completions
  • 2018 apprentices and trainees in-training October to December 2018 collection, by qualification and state and territory of data submitter.

Priority skills data have been extracted from the Enrolled Nursing IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast.

Job vacancy data have been extracted from Burning Glass Technologies 2019, Labor Insight Real-time Labor Market Information Tool, Burning Glass Technologies, Boston, viewed July 2019,

Data shown represent most requested generic skills and employers according to internet job postings in Australia between July 2016 and June 2019 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: 31 Mar 2020
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