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by Karen Reid
23 March 2022
Associate Feature: ‘Empowering our  workforce, citizens and communities to live  their lives well’

Associate Feature: ‘Empowering our workforce, citizens and communities to live their lives well’

‘The right staff with the right skills in the right place at the right time’… As Chief Executive of NHS Education for Scotland (NES), the NHS Board responsible for educating, training and developing our health and social care workforce, I want to explain what our mantra means for NES and why it is particularly important for our new programmes of work to support employability and skills for our health and social care workforce.

Positively effecting change

I believe that NES has a role to positively effect change through our work in education, early intervention, prevention, excellence, and supporting other public sector, third sector and private sector bodies to address systemic and deep-rooted inequalities across our society.

Given that our health and social care workforce stands at over 400,000 people in Scotland, the scale of our workforce, in every community in the country, leverages a wider contribution in areas such as improving population health and reducing inequalities, economic development, innovation and competitiveness while recognising responsibilities in areas such as net zero.
Implicit in our ‘right staff, right skills’ mantra is the understanding that investing in people is a key aspect of helping citizens and communities live well.  Ensuring that future roles and future skills suit an individual’s aspirations is crucial in ensuring we have a workforce that is enabled, empowered and motivated to deliver improved outcomes.

The right staff, right skills, right place, right time is also about equipping individuals with the knowledge, skills and expertise they need to flourish by encouraging and exploring new career pathways and qualifications in health and social care. Importantly, these pathways will be co-designed with partners, ensuring individual needs and aspirations are taken into account. This is exemplified by two recent programmes within NES and collaborative partners - the Youth Academy and the Widening Access Routes into Health and Social Care for Armed Forces Veterans and Service Leavers.

The Youth Academy


NES is a joint partner with NHS Golden Jubilee in the development of the NHS Scotland Academy (NHSSA), which provides accelerated training across the healthcare workforce. The Youth Academy forms part of the NHS Scotland Academy and work is already underway with partners such as Skills Development Scotland and local authorities to implement new foundation and modern apprenticeships for young people in health and social care.

In practice, this means working across sectors, with local schools, colleges, NHS Boards, local authorities and public sector partners to create the right opportunities for diverse roles that will be rewarding for young people leaving school and considering what job they want to do. Ultimately, we know we can’t this on our own. Everything we do is in collaboration with partners, helping us deliver better programmes and resources.

Widening Access Routes into Health and Social Care – Armed Forces Service Leavers and Veterans

We also recognise that there are challenges facing the workforce. Taking account of the shortage of employees for many NHS Scotland health and social care services, we are working to identify and attract new, additional staff from a range of sources.

Again, working through the NHS Scotland Academy and partners, we are exploring how we can support increasing employment opportunities for armed forces service leavers and veterans. We think this work could make a real difference to individuals and families of veterans and service leavers, by offering employment opportunities that uses their existing skills and qualifications to plug a much-needed gap in health and care services.

The Scottish Government recently published its National Strategy for Economic Transformation. The strategy is clear that we need to ensure people have the skills they need at every stage of life to have rewarding careers that also meet the demands of an ever-changing economy and society.

Undoubtedly there are challenges, but NES is part of the solution. We want to ensure that good quality outcomes begin and end with the workforce, empowering people and communities to live their lives well.

This article is sponsored by NHS Education for Scotland.

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