West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin has taken an unprecedented step in the region’s healthcare sector by investing £1.3 million to train and upskill frontline NHS workers. This move aims to address the ongoing recruitment and retention crisis within the NHS, providing opportunities for individuals to enter and progress within the health and social care sector.

The investment will fund various courses designed to introduce individuals to roles in health and social care, with clear pathways for career progression into positions within hospitals, hospices, and other healthcare settings. Additionally, the initiative aims to upskill existing healthcare professionals, offering courses tailored to their career advancement needs.

Mayor Brabin has underscored the significance of this investment, stating that it serves as a temporary solution to the NHS’s recruitment challenges. However, she emphasized the necessity for sustainable funding from the government to adequately address the staffing issues faced by the NHS.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said:

“Our NHS is in crisis, but here in West Yorkshire, our devolved powers over skills training are allowing us to step in to support our stressed and strained frontline services.

“The Government must put forward a real plan to save our economy, rescue our public services, and fix the NHS’s recruitment and retention crisis for good.

“This means proper funding for health and social care across the country, but also a single funding settlement for our region, so that we can harness that greater flexibility to support more jobs and build a stronger, brighter West Yorkshire.”

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority predicts that over 1,000 new workers will be recruited as a result of the over £1 million investment in skills training for healthcare roles.

The funding has been allocated by regional leaders from the so-called “Gainshare” – the discretionary £38 million per year fund devolved to West Yorkshire as part of its devolution deal.

This flexible approach to funding has brought decision-making closer to where people live, with this new investment in healthcare training a direct response to local labour market data, which shows that there were more than 3,300 job postings for health and social care roles in February 2024 alone.

Data also shows that the NHS staffing crisis is felt more severely in Yorkshire and the Humber than elsewhere in the country, with 9.2% of NHS roles vacant in the year 2022-2023, compared to the average rate of 3.4% across the UK.

Cllr Cathy Scott, Leader of Kirklees Council and Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Employment and Skills Committee, said; “Everyone should have the chance to get the skills they need to succeed, no matter their background or circumstances.

“So I’m pleased we’re able to support people into good, well-paid jobs through this investment.

“And having the qualified people to take on these vitally important healthcare roles is making a difference throughout our communities, as we work to create a West Yorkshire that works for all.”

West Yorkshire Learning Providers, which deliver the healthcare training on behalf of the Mayor, are holding a high-profile careers event on 24th April at St George’s Centre in Leeds, to bring health and social care employers together, and help people access training for these vitally important roles across the region.

The Mayor is encouraging people to book the careers event by emailing kelly.townend@wylp.org.uk. More information about the wide variety of healthcare courses can be accessed online at https://www.futuregoals.co.uk/skillsconnect/#health.

Alex Miles, Managing Director of West Yorkshire Learning Providers, said; Over the past year and half, we’ve supported over 800 people through a wide range of courses, in response to the challenges faced by the health and social care sector across West Yorkshire.

The courses have resulted in employees taking both higher-level specialist roles as well as greater volunteering opportunities as a stepping stone to starting a great career in the sector.

We are excited to further develop our offer to include opportunities to support graduates, adapt to advancements in technology, tackle the recruitment and upskilling challenges facing the sector, and focus on making training accessible to all.

Faith, a graduate who started her journey as a volunteer for a charity in Bradford, progressed into paid employment as a healthcare assistant in a care home, after completing one of the training programmes. She said:

“Every part of the course is amazing. We had different topics, built confidence and a chance to improve my CV.

“It opened doors for me. My goals were achieved, and I am now working as a healthcare assistant in a care home. I would recommend the programme to anyone.”

Karen, also a volunteer before progressing into paid employment as a drug and alcohol support worker, said:

“The course helped me by giving me the confidence to apply for a paid role. It helped me to realise I had a lot of knowledge and lived experience and the fact that I wanted a career change at 50 years old, was definitely not a barrier. If you want to achieve your goal you can!

“I would definitely recommend the course to others in a similar situation, or even wanting to start out in a career in care as lots of good advice and tools are given on the course.”