Danielle Oakford and Victoria Reynolds, engagement and liaison officers, Merseyside Health Sector Career & Engagement Hub, reflect about the development of the hub and the impact it has made in the local community since opening in 2016.
The Merseyside Health Sector Career & Engagement Hub was established to create a more joined up approach to promoting health sector careers and employment opportunities, helping to ‘Grow Our Own’ future workforce. We’ve been called a dating agency for the health sector as we make links between our diverse local communities and the local workforce. We work closely with employers, universities, schools, job centres and community groups to help promote careers in the health sector; showing that it’s much more than just doctors and nurses.
We started out by engaging with local employers and stakeholders to map out existing activities and the perceived gaps in the workforce. This allowed us to pull together a plan; thinking carefully about how we could have the most impact over the next year, and what an interesting, fun and exciting 12 months it has been! It would be difficult to list all of our achievements during this time so we wanted to share our top two highlights.
Liverpool City Region Health Skills Show
We hosted the first ever Liverpool City Region Health Skills Show in November 2017. Using the relationships we had developed in our initial engagement work, we were able to secure external sponsorship. Wow – what an amazing event!
Around 1,000 students from local schools attended. Our exhibitors showcased the many exciting opportunities in health. The show floor was packed with interactive hands-on activities from health professionals, universities, colleges and training providers, who offered information about the many different career pathways available in the health care sector.
The feedback the show received was exactly what we wanted to hear - almost 90 per cent of attendees said that they now understood more about the variety of jobs on offer in health, with almost 80 per cent saying that following the event they were much more likely to consider a career in the sector. Attendees said that they enjoyed talking to people about their careers and getting to know what different jobs there are.
Health Career Ambassador Programme
Our other highlight from the last 12 months has been the Health Career Ambassador Programme that we set up in Merseyside.
Health career ambassadors are people from varied roles within the sector who volunteer their time to help inspire the future workforce. As a hub, we think that the best way to promote careers, is for people doing the job to share their passion and enthusiasm with their communities. We have worked with our local employers and stakeholders to set up this programme and explore how to ensure the ambassadors make the biggest impact possible in the community.
This year we have recruited over 65 registered health career ambassadors from 18 health care organisations, with a further 43 due to complete their training soon. These ambassadors have supported a whole host of different activities, helping to inspire and motivate the next generation of health professionals.
The benefits for the volunteers include improved presentation skills, increased confidence and increased satisfaction with their work. For employers, the programme provides a platform to improve awareness of their organisation, their employees are more motivated and they help support the ultimate aim; improving recruitment from their local community.
When you watch the news, there’s often a ‘bad news story’ about the health sector. We want to use our privileged position of being able to promote how great it is to work in health, build on and share our learning over the 18 months and make sure that more people are aware of the different opportunities available to them.