New reports spotlight skills development for healthcare workforce in Wales

A series of in-depth Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) reports aimed at “upskilling” the healthcare workforce in Wales, have been published today (5th  February 2014) by Skills for Health, as part of the Sector Priorities Fund Pilot (SPFP) programme.  The publication of these reports comes in the wake of the 10 year plan for a more highly skilled Wales unveiled last week by Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology, Ken Skates.

The three independent reports, based on a range of qualitative and quantitative research, explore topical areas in workforce development for the   healthcare sector including an overview of the assistant practitioner role, the benefits of increasing the uptake of healthcare apprenticeships in Wales and a discussion of how to develop and support SME businesses providing services to rural and urban communities in Wales.

The SPFP programme aims to pilot strategic project activity with Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) such as Skills for Health, in order to inform recommendations which will ensure that the delivery of post-16 Skills provision in Wales is more responsive and aligned to the needs of employers. The findings of each of these reports will provide useful information for Welsh Government, NHS Wales, health boards and training providers and will contribute to shaping the provision of training and skills development for the healthcare workforce in the future.

The Skills for Health commissioned LMI reports are available to review at and consist of:

    Assistant Practitioner roles in the Welsh Health Sector: Enhancing the potential for future development

    It is widely argued that this ‘intermediate/technical’ level role could produce a significant positive impact on the performance of the health sector.  This research report seeks to enhance our understanding of how these roles are being developed and currently used within Wales.  It also aims to provide insights into how these roles can be better and more widely adopted to maximise their potential impact. The report concludes that there is significant evidence to suggest that AP roles are successfully utilised in Wales and are very well represented in technical areas such as Radiology. However, more support may be needed to help introduce these roles in rural hospital settings.

    Apprenticeships in the Welsh Health Sector: Issues and opportunities to increase uptake

    This research explores the adoption of apprenticeships by health employers in Wales and identifies barriers and opportunities around the future development of this pathway to qualification and employment.  The report finds positive evidence to suggest that Wales is performing on a par with other UK countries, but would benefit from the simplification and streamlining of processes.

    Developing high performance SME businesses in the Welsh health sector: The targeting of business and learning support

    This report explores the business and skills needs of health sector SME employers.  It seeks to help our understanding of the motivations of business owners and how they want to shape their businesses and, in turn, their skills and the skills of those who work with them.  One positive key finding from the report was that all SME businesses involved in the research were united by a central ethos of patient welfare.  94% of respondents were also keen to take part in “collective action”, coming together to better understand the needs of their patients and how to respond to the NHS.

Christina Pond, Director of Products and Services at Skills for Health comments; “It’s very important to generate a strong evidence base and in-depth Labour Market Intelligence (LMI) to better understand the requirements  of health care employers when creating workforce development solutions , and to inform the planning and funding decisions of  Government, education commissioners and learning providers.  While these reports do of course highlight the many positive developments in skills and training in the Welsh healthcare workforce, the findings also outline some innovative ways in which support could be provided to further enhance workforce development.”

Anne Clarke, Director for Wales at Skills for Health adds; “These reports provide a valuable insight into three key areas of development in the Welsh health sector. The SME business report is particularly valuable in that it is the first time that we’ve looked at the skills needs of these businesses in Wales.  It revealed a highly motivated and vibrant workforce, intent on growth and expansion. This is clearly great news for Welsh business as a whole, and we hope to be able to work closely with the SME sector in Wales in the future to offer guidance and support via appropriate skills development.”