High-paid health workers Qld is desperate for
Highly-paid workers at the coalface of Queensland's COVID-19 response are becoming harder to recruit, prompting fears a worsening skills shortage will hamper the state's ability to fight public health emergencies.
Environmental Health Officers, grassroots workers on the frontline of the pandemic, are increasingly hard to source as school leavers instead study the more high-profile nursing, teaching or corporate careers.
During COVID-19 officers have assisted Queensland Health's contact tracers, screened airport passengers and assessed the spread of the deadly virus.
Just eight students will graduate from Griffith University's Environmental Health course this year, prompting fears from course Professor Anne Roiko that the lack of interest would result in chronic skills shortages over the next decade.
Professor Roiko said the high-paying role was not well known and often overlooked by students.
"It's one of those jobs where it's a job done well if nobody notices," she said.
"You don't make the headlines like the paramedics and doctors."
Outside of a pandemic environmental health officers are tasked with ensuring residents had access to safe water and air, ensuring city eateries were clean and preparing for a disease outbreak.
The Griffith University professor said environmental health officers, including many of her former students, had in the past year played a vital role in responding to COVID-19.
"They're frontline not in the treatment, but in the prevention and containment of outbreaks," she said.
"They were the ones manning the screening at airports and the quarantine hotels … they worked with restaurants to develop COVID-safe plans."
Professor Roiko said foreign workers would be hired if Australians could not fill the high-paying role.
Graduate Katherina Gutjahr-Holland, 25, has secured a job in the Metro North Public Health Unit.
Ms Gutjahr-Holland said the ability to have a broad influence on people's health led her to choose a career as an environmental officer.
"You can work anywhere… you can work across different areas and there are always jobs available," she said.
Professor Roiko said health officers were employed by three levels of government and the Defence Force.
Originally published as High-paid health workers Qld is desperate for