13th January 2014

In the light of the recent publication of major reviews including Francis and Cavendish, the importance of employing and recruiting staff with the right attributes to contribute to high quality care is paramount. It is therefore timely that Skills for Health (SfH) is this week launching a revised and updated Employability Skills Matrix (ESM) to help both employers and individuals working across the UK healthcare sector to identify the personal skills, qualities, values, attributes and behaviours needed to improve the delivery of care.

Image: Matrix word cloud.The revised Matrix gives a UK wide perspective, taking into account the national strategies for health published by the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and by the Department for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Northern Ireland (DHSSPSNI). Whilst much of the emphasis of these recent reports has been on improving systems and processes, there are also important indicators on the personal skills, qualities, values, attributes and behaviours which should underpin the work of everyone working in a health context.

In response, the Matrix is a practical tool that will assist employers and commissioners to define the employability skills in addition to clinical excellence where relevant required by staff working at different career levels (from Levels 1 to 9) and in different roles across the healthcare sector. From an individual employee point of view, ESM can help staff at all levels to identify employability skills and knowledge "gaps", direct them to the most relevant source of information and advice about development and training , contribute to the staff review process and maintain motivation to stay in the sector.

The ESM will also assist employers to 'grow their own' staff within the sector and reduce high levels of attrition, as well as assist in identifying access points to employment across the health sector as a whole. This focus on employability skills will enable organisations to develop a "value set" that will result in:

  • Better motivated and trained staff
  • Greater staff satisfaction & reduced staff turnover
  • Lower costs as a result of reduced staff turnover and higher levels of efficiency

John Rogers, Chief Executive at Skills for Health comments; "As recent high profile reviews have demonstrated, never has there been such a crucial time for us to monitor and assess the training needs, skills, values and attributes of health care workers. Together the Employability Skills Matrix and the Career Framework for Health ensure a national consistency to allow for maximum job role flexibility and continued career growth and progression across the sector.

"By increasing the focus on recruiting and developing specific values , we expect that the ESM will also help healthcare organisations to improve their overall "culture" to enable better delivery for end care for patients."

As a 'stand-alone' product, the Matrix can be used by employers, human resource directors and commissioners of services to identify the skills and attributes needed at each career level across the health sector. However, it can also be used in conjunction with other products such as the national occupational standards (NOS) and career framework for health to help develop specific job and personal specifications.

The Employability Skills Matrix (ESM) is now available to download for free at www.skillsforhealth.org.uk and can be accessed via the professional networking website www.myhealthskills.com. Skills for Health is also developing an electronic version of the resource, due to be launched in March 2014, which will allow employability skills to be automatically populated for job descriptions and personal specifications.

The revision of the Employability Skills Matrix for Health has been funded by the UKCES as part of an Employer Investment Fund programme of work.