A new poll of SMEs across the health and care sector reveals – while 2023 may be a challenging year – they still expect on average a 26% growth in revenue. The Skills Horizon barometer, launched by the Skills for Life campaign, asked 1,250 SMEs in England about their challenges and opportunities when it comes to skills and recruitment in the year ahead, has found many are exploring the best ways to strengthen their workforce to achieve this growth. In the health and care sector specifically, it reveals 74% are planning to invest in upskilling their workforce, bolstering their capabilities for the year ahead.
The Skills for Life campaign aims to help SMEs understand all the training and employment schemes available to them, including Apprenticeships, T Levels, Skills Bootcamps, HTQs and Multiply numeracy courses. Businesses who are considering hiring employees can access a range of government programmes offering work experience or upskilling existing staff, some of which offer financial incentives. This moment in the campaign follows last week’s National Apprenticeship Week, dedicated to celebrating apprenticeships and the newer introduction of T Levels to highlight their positive impact on communities, businesses, and the wider economy.
Over half (41%) SMEs in the health and care industry rank staffing challenges – such as recruitment and skills – amongst their top three concerns for 2023. However, nearly half (46%) plan to invest in building digital skills within their company and nearly half (42%) will encourage staff to engage in current or free training resources – such as Skills for Life Bootcamps. Many SMEs in the health and care sector are hoping this will help them tackle the challenges they face with recruitment and staffing in 2023, as they cite their three top recruitment and staffing concerns as retaining staff (45%), not having enough employees with the right skills (40%) and not being able to recruit new employees with the right skills (47%) and. Over a fifth (21%) are seeking to hire from broad education routes such as apprentices and T Levels students.
Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education Robert Halfon said:
“Boosting skills in key sectors like digital, manufacturing and healthcare is essential to building a skills nation and the government is investing in resources and skills qualifications – spending over £3.8bn this Parliament.
“This investment is being recognised by SMEs who are planning to invest in upskilling their workforce this year, and I would encourage businesses of all sizes follow suit.
“Whether it’s through apprenticeships, T Levels or courses in essential numeracy and literacy skills, there are free and flexible ways for employers to tap into the highly skilled workforce they need to thrive.”
Laura Wolstenholme, Head of Workforce at Persona Care and Support – a social care organisation that prioritises helping people live their best life – says, “We’re looking at ways in which we can change the way we recruit. In this industry, experience isn’t as necessary as people holding the right values – like care and empathy – then practical skills for the role can be taught. As a sector we’re good at offering entry level roles, with apprenticeships being a good route to employment and making care a long-term career. It’s important to plan longer term and invest in staff. For us, it’s about making connections between individuals.”
To find training and employment schemes for your business, as well as support on how to implement these, visit: find-employer-schemes.education.gov.uk/.