Could poor pay deter best candidates?

hand out for money - coins in palm

New data confirms that pharmacy graduates are the lowest-paid graduates in Australia, prompting a warning to the sector

The union for employee pharmacists has flagged the imminent release of its report into remuneration for community and hospital pharmacists, which shows pharmacy graduates are the lowest paid graduates in the country.

As reported in November 2020, the Graduate Outcomes Survey had revealed that job prospects were good for pharmacy graduates, with 96.4% in full-time employment four months after they graduated.

This intern year, however, was not well paid.

“Median undergraduate full-time salaries in 2020 ranged between study areas from a high of $84,000 down to $49,600, with a standard deviation of $7,800,” the report stated.

In that report, pharmacy scored poorly in terms of take-home pay, with the full-time median undergraduate salary at $49,600.

This was the lowest of all graduate salaries, while dentistry ($84,000) and medicine ($75,000) were the highest.

The Community and Hospital Pharmacists Employment and Remuneration Report 2019-20, set to be released next week, examines pay, hours worked, employment conditions and attitudes of pharmacist, including graduates in the sector.

While the data was derived from the Graduate Outcomes survey, the new data suggests an even lower starting salary than the Graduate Outcomes survey.

According to PPA president Geoff March, it reveals “deeply concerning” conditions faced by new pharmacy graduates.

“Pharmacy graduates are the lowest paid compared to every other profession in Australia and this is a major concern for the future of this vital sector,” he said.

“For multiple years in a row the commencing rates of pay for pharmacists have been the lowest of any study area, and prior to 2018 by a large margin.

“A pharmacy graduate begins on a starting salary of just $48,000 per year. This compares with a median starting salary of $62,500 for all graduates.

“That makes a career in pharmacy one of the least attractive options for new candidates deciding what industry they’d like to enter.”

He warned that the sector would have difficulty attracting quality candidates if these pay rates and conditions continue.

“If the pharmacy sector is going to continue to attract the talented graduates it needs to ensure the community is provided with quality services and health care, it’s clear we have to provide them with proper pay, decent working conditions and clear opportunities for career progression,” he said.

He noted that a review of graduate pay rates, delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, has now been initiated. It will examine the appropriate rate for pharmacy graduates, as well as those in other professions.

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