Working together, improving lives

March 2024

National Careers Week: Encouraging Young People Into Healthcare

National Careers Week (March 4th – March 9th) is a celebration of careers guidance and free resources to millions of young adults in schools in the UK looking to find information towards their future careers. This week-long event plays a vital role in promoting career development and insight but it is also a significant opportunity to highlight the importance of getting young people to form careers in industries that require vital talent and new skill.

The Health and Social care sector is one fraught with numerous challenges, from addressing workforce shortages to an ageing population, ensuring long-term commitment to the sector or the ability to educate and inspire young people. In today’s blog, we’re going to explore some of these issues in relation to National Careers Week and how this strategic campaign can contribute to shaping the future healthcare workforce and care for the lives of those support by them.

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Changing Demographics

According to the NHS ‘individual worker characteristics’ report, the average age for a healthcare worker in 2020 in the UK was 42.9 years. As working populations age, the healthcare industry needs to be able to evolve and generational diversity can bring about numerous benefits. As more workers near retirement, encouraging young people to enter the industry can help establish a pipeline for succession planning. This preventive approach to employment will ensure a smooth transition of skills and knowledge learnt from those already in the industry, whilst maintaining the stability of the workforce, preventing critical skill shortages that would be detrimental to those the sector is intended to support.

Young professionals who enter the healthcare workforce are also better positioned to adapt to changes to the industry, having grown up in an era of technological advancements at their fingertips, these new workers are more likely to integrate into emerging technologies and innovative solutions which will help to enhance overall efficiency and care quality.

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An Ageing Population

Since 1950, life expectancy has risen by an additional 13 years. Although this is great as it means people are living longer as a result of medical and technological advancements, it also provides unique challenges for advanced economies like in the UK. How can the needs of millions more people and the subsequent pressure, be catered to, in a way that still promotes quality health, wellbeing and care, despite a shortfall in workers?

This challenge is not unique to the UK and indeed many first-world countries are experiencing the same problem. Despite young people spending more time in education in order to benefit their future career paths, it’s important to highlight how the healthcare sector has opportunities for a range of skillsets, both with or without the requirement of formal qualifications.

There are hundreds of unique roles within health and social care, from a Certified Registered Nurse at a city hospital, to a Support Worker providing live-in care to a resident of a small town. The Health Foundation reports that at least a million more new or young people must be employed to support our ageing population, therefore the opportunities for a long and successful career are boundless and plentiful, and more needs to be done for people to understand and explore this.

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Challenging Stereotypes

We are living in a time where people in work value feedback, progression and career development more than ever before and where those seeking employment place values, ethics and a sense of purpose as key priorities and motivators to apply. Healthcare in the UK has an unfair image problem and it’s important for new talent to see how working in the sector can benefit them by challenging traditional and unbalanced stereotypes.

More needs to be done to explore the benefits of healthcare. These roles are largely personally rewarding, as workers actively contribute, not only to individuals that seek support, but the health of the wider community more generally. Aside from the sense of achievement that comes from providing care, there are also numerous options for career development. Indeed, someone without qualifications, but the right attitude, commitment and compassion can excel and grow in a number of specific roles.

In addition to this, there is the benefit of unique working demands that other sectors simply don’t facilitate. Those wanting the stability of job security and income are well supported by healthcare. But there is also the advantage of shift-work for many, which is great for a range of people such as students who require balance between income and education, or young families who might have childcare commitments which limit their employment opportunities in other industries.

In a recent survey, 8% of the UK healthcare workforce stated they had been in the industry for more than a decade, higher than almost any other workforce. This long-term commitment to care suggests that those working in the field are deeply satisfied, challenging the notions we expect to hear about healthcare as being ‘low-skill’, ‘run-of-the-mill’ or simply ‘too stressful’.

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Above are just some of the key reasons young professionals can benefit the healthcare industry, but more can be done to entice fresh talent too. We believe there are additional ways corporations and governments can and should support young people.

  • Explore more about flexibility within the sector for those with unique lifestyle demands
  • Discuss the industry at schools with young people directly through early exposure and better education
  • Utilise or form career fairs and events for better exploration into future career paths
  • Pay more than National Minimum and National Living Wage, like Dean Healthcare
  • Promote diversity and inclusion regarding, age, gender, culture or ethnicity
  • Showcase technological advancements and the impact of future technologies
  • Engage more deeply with young people through digital spaces like social media
  • Recognise and reward, new, young and emerging talent