AN extra 4483 jobs in the health and welfare sector will be created in the Central West and Blue Mountains during the next four years, predictions from the Regional Australia Institute show.
There are already more than 12,500 jobs across the region in that sector, Census data shows, but with the increase that total will rise to 17,000 - an increase of 26.3 per cent.
The most recent Census data shows there were already more than 12,500 jobs in the healthcare and social assistance sector in the region and with the expected new jobs it will rise to 17,000 - an increase of 26.3 per cent.
Health and welfare is already the biggest employer by industry in many locations across the Central West, including: Bathurst (13.7 per cent), Dubbo (15.7 per cent), Mudgee (13.8 per cent), Orange (21.1 per cent) and Parkes (12.6 per cent).
In Cowra and Forbes it is the second largest employer accounting for 13.4 per cent and 12.2 per cent of employment respectively; while in Lithgow it ranks third largest at 10.6 per cent.
Currently, the Regional Australia Institute (RAI) website shows there are 37 jobs available for medical practitioners and nurses in the Central West, with a further 37 open for health diagnostic and therapy professionals.
RAI co-chief executive officer Dr Kim Houghton said this sector would see the biggest growth in job numbers of any industry during the next five years, with 250,000 more jobs projected nationwide by May 2023.
"Over the next five years, we are going to see significant demand for workers across the country, with registered nurses, child care workers and aged care staff topping the list of occupations," he said.
Other areas of need will be for welfare workers, psychologists, general practitioners and physiotherapists.
Dr Houghton said this growing industry sector presented a "huge opportunity" for job seekers, with regional Australia accounting for more than 34 per cent (85,000) of those jobs.
Over the next five years, we are going to see significant demand for workers across the country, with registered nurses, child care workers and aged care staff topping the list of occupations.Regional Australia Institute co-chief executive officer Dr Kim Houghton
While many of these roles require high skill levels and a university degree, the industry also offers lower skilled entry level positions.
Dr Houghton said the industry was also supported by a range of non-health occupations such as cooks, cleaners, receptionists and office managers who all provide essential services.
"At the RAI, we are encouraging more regions to put this industry on the radar of their regional economic strategies, as it is a significant employer with great growth potential," he said.
"This sector already accounts for 12.5 per cent of high-income jobs in regional Australia, which are those roles paying more than $104,000."