Talent for Care and Widening Participation


Talent for care and Widening participation: it matters are two strategic frameworks developed by Health Education England (HEE) with a range of national partners, including NHS Employers. The strategies were published by HEE at the end of 2014 and formally launched on the 4 March 2015.

Both frameworks share a common aim to improve the quality of patient care in a system that faces a challenging future. They offer breakthroughs in workforce development and flexibility, in line with the aims of the NHS five year forward view.

Talent for Care

Talent for care is creating history as the first ever national strategy for the development of healthcare support staff (those in bands one to four), recognising that this cohort of staff have immense potential to improve the quality of patient care.

Linked to a number of Government objectives, including responses to both the Francis and Cavendish reviews, the framework has three main areas for action:

  • Get in - improving opportunities for people to start their career in a support role.
  • Get on - supporting people to be the best that they can be in the job they do.
  • Go further - providing opportunities for career progression, including into the registered professions.

At the heart of Talent for care are ten strategic intentions that emphasise the importance of attracting young people into the NHS, making best use of apprenticeships, supporting staff to achieve the care certificate, and nurturing talent.

Widening participation: it matters

Widening participation: it matters is largely about attracting people from a diverse range of backgrounds to pursue a career in healthcare. It is acknowledged that within healthcare a diverse workforce can ensure a better understanding of patients' needs - crucial skills for the delivery of joined up, personalised care. As a major employer, it is also recognised that the NHS has the potential to make a big impact on employment and economic stability for communities and, many would argue, has a corporate social responsibility to do so.

The framework promotes progression based on merit and has five strategic goals at its core. These goals seek to enhance visibility and targeting of health careers, increase collaborative approaches to outreach/work experience, and improve monitoring of widening participation activities.

What does this mean for employers?

It is recognised that employers are the most important participants in making these frameworks happen and partnership working is key to the success of these agendas.

The strategies have been developed following extensive consultation with individual members of the the workforce, employers, and numerous other stakeholders. The frameworks have drawn broad support from trade unions and whilst they are are not directive, HEE are keen to encourage employers to demonstrate their commitment and recognise the importance of widening participation and developing the support workforce for ensuring adequate future workforce supply. 

Employers, local education and training boards (LETBs) and trade unions all have a direct interest in developing the healthcare support workforce. Employers are being asked to think creatively about how they meet the strategic aims set out in these two frameworks, and, specifically, to make and deliver on certain commitments and pledges:

Talent for care partnership pledge

Talent for care is calling for provider organisations to make a partnership pledge setting out actions, such as recruiting more apprentices, to drive real change based on the strategic intentions in the national framework.

HEE has developed an action plan and implementation tool for employers and unions to use to help them make and fulfil partnership pledges. Download this document from the HEE website.  You may also be interested to take a look at this legacy website, which has been created following the People Matter: Widening Participation in Health and Care event delivered in 2016.

LETBs are also organising training and events for their local trusts and working in other ways to encourage implementation of the strategy. Find out how to contact your LETB via HEE's website. 

Widening participation commitments

Widening participation: It matters calls for employers to sign up to:

A work experience practice commitment: an agreement to target and prioritise work experience for under-represented, or disadvantaged groups (young people hindered from entering the labour market, and candidates returning to practice or work after a period of ill health, incapacity, or fulfilling carer responsibilities). 

A health ambassador commitment: an organisational pledge to harness the enthusiasm of healthcare staff and use it to promote career, job and developmental opportunities within the health sector to people interested in them. 

To give you overview of widening participation initiatives that are currently working well across the NHS, take a look these case studies in HEE's comprehensive directory. You may also be interested to take a look at this legacy website, which has been developed following the People Matter: Widening Participation in Health and Care event delivered in 2016.

On the NHS Careers website, you will also find a work experience toolkit, which is designed to help employers overcome barriers and provide high-quality work experience opportunities.

NHS Employers resources

NHS Employers is here to help you to make sense of current and emerging healthcare issues, and to address the workforce challenges which come with these. We have several themes of work which can support you in meeting the aims of HEE's strategies, including:

  • Apprenticeships and traineeships - Find out how building apprenticeship and traineeship programmes can help you create a skilled, flexible and motivated workforce.
  • Access recruitment support via Jobcentre Plus - Jobcentre Plus (JCP) are one of the most experienced recruiters in the country and provide a range of services, at no cost to the employer, that can help you improve the diversity profile of your workforce and find a better fit of candidate for your vacancies.
  • ThinkFuture - Our guidance focuses on why it's important to increase employment opportunities for young people, and offers advice on how to identify talented people, who will become the workforce of the future.  
  • Building a diverse workforce - Access tools and resources to assist you in planning and building a diverse workforce, which will help you to deliver a more inclusive service.
  • Education and skills in employment - Find out about the importance of ensuring quality education and training provision and consider joining our skills and education in employment network to help you keep abreast of the latest developments and allow you to shape the future direction of policy.

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