Colleges and health bosses are making a pledge to work together to help plug potential skills gaps and raise awareness of opportunities in the health and social care sectors, among young people.
The “Skills for Health” pledge comes as the impact of Covid 19 has shone a spotlight on the vital services provided by those working in the industry.
The Education Training Collective (Etc.), Hartlepool College of Further Education and the North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, will now work in collaboration to help identify skill needs, recruit new staff, educate and raise awareness in communities and upskill and reskill existing staff.
And with funding from The Prince’s Trust, as part of the charity’s initiative to support young talent into work in healthcare, the colleges have also committed to help more young people, aged 16 to 30, start new careers with the NHS and wider care sector.
“The pandemic has highlighted more than ever the essential work being carried out by our hospitals and care workers,” said Stockton Riverside College Principal, Lesley Graham. “At the same time, the impact has seen significant rises in unemployment, particularly among young people.
“As part of the Education Training Collective, which incorporates Stockton Riverside College, Redcar and Cleveland College, Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training and The Skills Academy, we already have effective working links with the NHS, along with over a hundred healthcare employers.
“Our Skills for Health Pledge will now continue to build on this, helping to plan for and meet current and future training and skills needs, ensuring vital services are maintained and enhanced through a strong and capable forward-thinking workforce.”
Also throwing their weight behind the pledge, Darren Hankey, Principal and Chief Executive of Hartlepool College of Further Education, said: “Labour market intelligence clearly highlights current and future skills gaps in the NHS and wider health and social care sector.
“Digitisation, an aging workforce and an increasing demand are three such challenges and it’s important the college has a curriculum that ensures our students gain the right knowledge, skills and qualifications to meet these challenges.
“In further education, collaboration is key. We hope to build on the work we currently do with the Etc. and North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust to help meet the Trust’s organisational development needs as well as to ensure our curriculum is preparing our students for opportunities that will clearly be there once they leave college.”
The project has already recruited a Skills for Health ambassador, and there are plans for a further ambassador role plus additional support roles in the pipeline, to co-ordinate employer and community links.
Tracy Squires, Deputy Chief People Officer at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We welcome the pledge as an education-led initiative to help people pursue a career in health and social care.
“As one of the region’s largest employers it’s only right and proper that we support this initiative and attract local people to work for the Trust. Education and employment can help people live happier, healthier lives.
“Working in partnership with local colleges allows the Trust to develop courses to get the people with the skills needed to deliver quality care for our patients. There is huge flexibility working with local partners. During the height of Covid 19 the Trust developed a course to train people to become team support workers. This role allowed ward nurses in the Trust to focus on their distinct roles whilst collaborating with support workers who could take on other essential duties such as feeding and supporting patients with essential aspects of their daily care. At a time of great need, our partnership found a solution which helped us, our partners and created more than 60 opportunities for employment with the Trust.
“Nationally, we know there is a lot of demand for people to work in health and social care. We’re always looking for people with the right values and behaviours to work in the NHS and we’re confident our partnership will identify and train those people. And once you begin a career in the NHS, who knows how far you can potentially develop and contribute given the many opportunities and range of positions on offer.”