23rd July 2014

Skills for Health has published a Labour Market Intelligence report exploring and analysing the health sector in Scotland. The in-depth report was commissioned by the Scottish Government as one of a number of resources designed to provide an insight into the key drivers for change in Scottish healthcare.

The report provides an overview of the current and potential future skills needs of Scotland's health sector. It brings together a broad range of intelligence including national statistics from the ONS, econometric projections of possible workforce demand, skills surveys and population statistics. In addition, the report also introduces projections of possible risks to the wellbeing of the population, based on consumer habits.

Whilst Scotland's health sector shares a wide range of challenges with countries throughout the West, with demand for health care increasing in the context of constrained resources. It also has some unique characteristics, including;

  • a more acute issue with ageing population than elsewhere in the UK. As a result, the sector is facing increasing pressures and demands for services and the challenge of helping individuals living with long-term conditions and co-morbidities is greater.
  • Social changes, including the increase in single person households, will also have a profound impact on how people might be cared for, particularly the availability of informal or unpaid carers.
  • Contrasting geographies, with densely populated urban areas and very sparsely populated rural areas, present interesting challenges for the sector. This raises a debate about how best services can be delivered to ensure equitable access across the country. As well as suitably qualified and competent health professionals.

The report highlights the need for Scotland to effectively succession plan in order to avoid a substantial skills and knowledge deficit as existing workers retire. It also identifies a gap in "generic" skills such as team working, communication, customer service skills and problem solving. However, overall the report tells a positive story around the levels of skills in the sector. Almost 70% of those working in the health sector are qualified at Level 4 or above, in comparison to 44% in Scotland's economy. Health sector employers also place a great deal of importance on training and development as well as qualifications. These are valued as they are intrinsically linked to service quality, patient safety and regulation.

It is hoped that this report will be of interest to those working in workforce planning and training and development in the health sector, policy makers as well as clinicians. Download the report to read in full...