How do I engage with schools and communities?

Woman serving fruit

Partnerships with local schools and communities can support you to strengthen your workforce supply. This web section provides suggestions for ways you can begin and sustain effective engagement, as well as additional information on how to establish a health ambassador programme or create a partnership with the Careers and Enterprise Company.

Understand your local community

Use our measuring up tool to compare the demographics of your local community and your workforce. By understanding which community groups you are currently not fully engaged with, and focusing your efforts in these areas, you can start to recruit from areas where candidates may not have considered a career in the NHS.  

Reach out

Contact a variety of different organisations across your community. If you already have an established health ambassadors programme, make use of this network. Once you have widened the reach of your engagement activities, you will begin to establish your organisation as an employer of choice, opening opportunities to a diverse future workforce. Consider making contact with:

  • community centres and organisations
  • local charities or organisations who focus on supporting specific groups in your community
  • schools, colleges and other educational institutions.

Build an offer

There are many different ways you can offer experience within your workplace. Consider establishing a health ambassador programme, where staff volunteer their time to promote their role, your organisation and the NHS, or a partnership with the Careers and Enterprise Company. Think about whether your organisation may be able to offer internships, work experience, apprenticeships or volunteering opportunities.

Internships or work experience

An internship is a period of work offered by an organisation, usually lasting for a fixed period. You can offer these to anyone who may be seeking to strengthen their work experience, for example those who have been unemployed for a length of time, or current students and recent school, college or university leavers.

Organisations should consider a range of internships or work experience opportunities, including supported internships or apprenticeships for those with learning disabilities.


Offering an apprenticeship or traineeship programme can be a cost-effective way to create a skilled, flexible and motivated workforce. These programmes can offer employment opportunities to candidates who may not have been able to access employment in the NHS through other routes. Apprenticeships can reduce training and recruitment costs and improve retention. You can read more about apprenticeship policy and view case studies and resources on our apprenticeship web pages.    


Offering volunteering experience is another way that your organisation can provide work experience opportunities to people who would not otherwise have access to them. Volunteering experience differs from apprenticeships, work experience and traineeships, as it generally offers no financial incentive to those taking part. 

Evaluating success

It is important that organisations consider evaluation early on in their planning. By setting clear objectives from the outset, and embedding a robust evaluation plan, you can ensure that you can measure the effectiveness of your engagement with schools and communities at key stages. This will help you identify successes and areas that you could seek to strengthen as you develop your programme. You can learn more about planning and carrying out a robust evaluation on our health and wellbeing pages.

Read more about setting up a health ambassadors programme or partnering with the Careers and Enterprise Company through the pages below.

Woman presenting chart

Health ambassadors

Learn about health ambassador programmes and how to set one up in your organisation.

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The Careers and Enterprise Company

Learn how the Careers and Enterprise company can suport you in engaging with local education providers.

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