Professional Comment

Creating The Healthcare Workforce Of Tomorrow

By Fran Gouldsborough, Deputy Head of Health Science & Social Care at the Quarry Hill campus of Leeds City College (, a member of Luminate Education Group.

Further education, despite limited funding support, has long played a major role in the training of healthcare workers. Colleges, in particular, can be credited with producing many of the health and social care professionals of today.

In 2021/22 alone, 297,864 students in the UK enrolled on to a course in health, social care or public services. Some of these students are expected to become part of the 50,000 extra nurses the government aims to deliver by 2025.

The nature of healthcare means there will always be a demand for people to train in the sector. My role, however, also helps me understand the underlying reasons why students embark on this training in the first place.

Erica Martin is studying Health & Social Care at Level 2. She told me it was her personal experience of dementia care that attracted her to the sector. “Too many times I have seen people with dementia not given control over their own lives. It fuelled a desire to help people maintain the quality of life they had before their diagnosis.”

Boyelany Diouf, on the other hand, is a mature student who built a career in construction and switched to health and social care to fulfil what has been, for him, a lifelong dream. “Being involved in the diagnostic process of a disease is how I want to make a difference,” he says. “To provide service users with the care they deserve during a critical time is important to me – I’m pleased my course is teaching me how to do this.”
Alongside equipping students with clinical and interpersonal skills, colleges now incorporate resilience training into the healthcare curriculum. These skills, which include time management and working under pressure, are designed to help newly qualified employees navigate the ever-increasing challenges of today’s industry.

What’s more, recent global and national challenges, such as Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis, have seen colleges step up their wellbeing support to help students deal with unprecedented changes to how they live and learn.

“For me it was the joy of delivering quality healthcare to people in my community,” says Dorcas Appeaning. “It’s this that motivates me to keep training; knowing I will join the same workforce in which members risked their lives for the nation during the pandemic.”

Erica concurs: “Part of my work experience includes serving as a Senior Care Assistant. It was inspiring to watch staff go above and beyond. My course has taught me that everything must be done with service at the forefront.”

While this feedback may represent the thoughts of a few, it provides insight into the important work colleges are doing to harness the motivations of young people wanting to enter the sector. Nevertheless, funding rates for healthcare courses remain low. A Level 3 Pharmacy Services apprenticeship, for example, has a funding band of £4,000 compared to one in vehicle mechanics at Level 2 funded at £6,000.

Despite this, interest among students is consistent – T Level enrolment numbers for 2022 show that Health and Science T Levels were the second highest. Colleges will also be required to increase their capacity because of the high interest shown for the coming academic year.


More funding, as well as those lobbying for that funding, would result in programmes that target specialist branches of healthcare, thereby allowing colleges to continue educating the next generation of workers.
By investing in health and social care training today, the government is investing in the workers of tomorrow.