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Objectives: The aim of this study was to determine whether job vacancy data for dentists might be used as part of a needs-based index to indicate levels of workforce supply.
Methods: Advertised job vacancies for dentists were collected at monthly intervals between October 2011 and June 2019; compiled into a data base and geo-coded by latitude and longitude. The vacancies were mapped using QGIS software and their geographic locations were observed relative to Accessibility/Remoteness Index of Australia Plus (ARIA+ 2016) and SEIFA Index of Relative Socio-economic Disadvantage (IRSD).
Results: There was a slight decline in the number of advertised job vacancies relative to the population of Australia in the first 18 months of the study. For the remainder of the study period the number of vacancies per million of the population rose steadily. There were differences between ARIA+ regions; but remote and very remote Australia showed very little variation in vacancies across the study period. The percentage of monthly advertised vacancies in IRSD1 (most disadvantaged) areas was much higher (>40%) at the start of the study period but by the end of the study the percentage of vacancies was relatively even across all IRSD groups.
Conclusions: The increase in the number of vacancies per million population since 2013 implies an increase in demand for dentists. The findings do not correlate with industry and government agency reporting of an oversupply. The use of job vacancy data might form part of a needs-based index to inform dental workforce planning.