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Voluntary health workers “lack IT skills”

New research commissioned by the UK Workforce Hub and sponsored by Skills for Health (SfH) – the sector skills council for the NHS, independent and voluntary healthcare sectors – has identified the main skills gaps and skills shortages faced by employers in the UK voluntary healthcare sector.

The research examined the nature, scope and impact of skills gaps and shortages in paid employees within the voluntary sector in 2007.  In terms of skills gaps – where healthcare employers in the voluntary sector report having employees who are not fully proficient at their job – the top ten gaps cited were:

1.    Strategic use of IT (26 per cent)
2.    Fundraising skills (24 per cent)
3.    Communication skills (21 per cent)
4.    Marketing skills (19 per cent)
5.    Health and safety skills (19 per cent)
6.    Team working (17 per cent)
7.    Strategic planning and forward thinking skills (17 per cent)
8.    Leadership skills (16 per cent)
9.    Monitoring and evaluation skills (14 per cent)
10.    Legal knowledge (14 per cent)

Commenting on the findings, John Rogers, Chief Executive of Skills for Health said: This report raises some challenges for the healthcare sector as a whole which need to be addressed in  partnership between individuals, organisations and government. The findings will help refine Skills for Health’s work towards developing a skilled, flexible and productive workforce for the entire healthcare sector in England.”

Two-fifths of employers within the voluntary healthcare sector  report an increased time taken to deliver work‚ as a result of their employees skills gaps, but the most frequently reported impact was increased workload.

Communication skills‚ was top of the list of skills shortages reported by healthcare employers in the voluntary healthcare sector (23 per cent); followed by the strategic use of IT‚ (16 per cent) and team work‚ (14 per cent).

Skills shortages are those hard to fill‚ vacancies which are the
result of a lack of required basic or specialist skills, qualifications or experience in job applicants.

Healthcare was the third most likely function to experience these hard to fill vacancies, less than one percentage point behind Youth Work and Social Care Provision.

National Council for Voluntary Organisations