From education to employment

Young people hold the key to the NHS workforce crisis – new research

As the NHS celebrates its 75th birthday, workforce remains its highest priority. Could the answer lie in younger generations?

New research from NHS Professionals – the leading provider of flexible workforce solutions to the NHS – suggests it could.

Elena and Rishi are two young people who have been actively working through the NHS Professionals bank, and the research indicates that the generation many young people are open to joining them.

According to new research, two thirds of young people say they would choose to seek flexible work within the NHS.

1,000 people aged between 18 and 24 were made aware that the NHS offers a variety of flexible roles that don’t necessarily require medical training, including as a receptionist and administrator, catering, porter or healthcare support worker. They were then asked, now that they were aware that these options were available, how likely they would be to seek flexible work within the NHS. 65% said they would be likely to.

The research was undertaken recently by OnePoll on behalf of NHS Professionals, and also revealed that Gen Z value flexibility, want to make a difference, and are open to a variety of flexible roles within the NHS.

Before being made aware of the variety of flexible roles offered by the NHS that don’t necessarily require medical training, the respondents were asked which sectors would most attract them if they were seeking flexible work, for example, while studying, caring for family, or to supplement core income during the cost-of-living crisis.

The top five were: 

Retail (e.g. a sales assistant or cashier in a supermarket)                                    29%

Hospitality (e.g., as a waiter or bartender)                                                          28%

Office administration (eg, as a receptionist or cleric)                                            27%

Education (eg, as a tutor or supply teacher)                                                        23%

Healthcare / care (eg, as a support worker in a care home / hospital)                    20%

In the same survey, respondents were asked when seeking part-time or flexible work, for example, while studying or caring for family, or to supplement core income, what they would value most:

  • Almost one third (30%) said they would value the opportunity to work on a flexible basis – ie, the option to work when and where they wanted without being tied to regular hours.
  • Just over a quarter (26%) said they would value competitive rates of pay.
  • A quarter (25%) said they would value a workplace close to home.

Helen Ives, NHS Professionals’ Chief People Officer, said:

“It is so encouraging, to see that once young people understand the NHS offers flexible work in such a variety of different roles, many of which don’t necessarily require clinical training, that they are really open to working in the NHS. This research showed us that over and above everything, younger people value the ability to work on a truly flexible basis and choose from a number of interesting opportunities.

22-year old Elena joined NHS Professionals as a healthcare assistant after being encouraged by her mum and aunt, both of whom worked in the NHS. “I have the flexibility to choose when and where I work,” she says, “I’ve now worked shifts in cardiac, maternity, radiology, general and respiratory wards.” Elena particularly loves the maternity ward and is exploring her options to train in paediatric nursing.

22 year-old Rishi-Nayan Varodaria was in his last year of a civil engineering degree at the University of Southampton when, like many students needed to supplement his income. “I was really nervous at first taking on my first shifts in the NHS – but it’s opened up a completely different career path, one I’d never have considered before.”

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