Social enterprise Ahead Partnership and C&K Careers are collaborating to launch a new careers programme that provides secondary and post-16 school pupils with the opportunity to consider the diverse range of careers available within the Kirklees Health and Care System. Funded by Health Education England, the timely initiative will bring together a network of key health, care and education partners across the district, providing a holistic approach to strengthening the talent pipeline and addressing labour deficits.

Ahead Partnership will lead on the extensive employer activity programme and overall project management for the Health and Care Pathways Project from January 2021, connecting local health and care staff with young people and delivering a diverse calendar of exciting activities. The programme will be delivered safely through live events and pre-developed content via digital platforms that enable volunteers to support from home or their place of work, and will comprise careers panels; industry days; speed networking and curriculum-focused briefs.

Meanwhile, C&K Careers will provide students with targeted individual and group guidance on applications and pathways into the health and care sector, as well as providing careers leaders, teachers and parents with guidance and resources that promote high demand roles and a better understanding of the courses available.

Connecting young people and employers from across the district, the programme will be delivered with ambitions to engage every secondary school student in Kirklees within five years, starting with this two-year pilot.

Stephanie Burras CBE, Chief Executive at Ahead Partnership, said:

“We are delighted to be launching this timely initiative, which is set to provide a much-needed boost to the health and care sector at a time of increased need.

Having undertaken important work to connect young people with employers for over a decade, we know that this type of initiative is a key intervention to address workforce challenges and encourage young people to think about their careers. With the support of a broad network of reputable, committed healthcare and education partners from across the district, we are sure that this will be an engaging and effective programme for young people and the sector alike.”

Martin Green, CEO at C&K Careers, said:

“It’s even more important that we provide young people with the support they need to understand their options and pursue pathways at this time, so we’re really looking forward to playing a part in driving forward this programme.

Ensuring that young people are well-equipped with knowledge of the vast opportunities and routes into this sector will be crucial going forward, so we’ll be providing the necessary guidance, support and resources to students and those around them from an early point.”

Steve Brennan, Kirklees Place Programme Director for the Kirklees Health and Care System, said:

“The health and care system has experienced a number of challenges throughout this year, not least in Kirklees, so it’s fantastic that this really important initiative is being brought forward at such a key time.

“A fully-engaged and skillful talent pipeline will be crucial going forward, and this initiative will make clear headway in driving interest and awareness in the sector amongst young people, as well as making a clear intervention to help meet the regional skills need.”

With increasing pressures on the health and care system, and shortages for many of the 400 job roles in the NHS alone, the initiative will help make a key intervention to encourage a pipeline of local applicants for high demand areas. A recent survey reported that 24% of young people said they were more likely to choose a career in healthcare as a result of the pandemic, and this programme will also help tap into this interest and maximise opportunities for young people to pursue goals.

Current and anticipated gaps that have been identified in heatmaps - including midwifery, health psychology, doctors and general practice nursing - will be reflected in the design of the programme, and the initiative will also seek to promote important non-clinical roles in the sector.

All activities and advice will be tailored to support young people throughout their educational development right through to the application process for entry-level jobs, apprenticeships and graduate programmes, with a focus on awareness-building at Key Stage 3; specific roles and opportunities at Key Stage 4; and routes into the sector at post-16 level.

The Health and Care Pathways Project is Ahead Partnership’s latest initiative in the West Yorkshire and Harrogate region to be announced, following years of dedicated efforts to tackle skills deficits and raise career aspirations across the region and beyond.

The project partners involved are: Kirklees Metropolitan District Council; North Kirklees CCG, Greater Huddersfield CCG; The Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust; Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust; SWYFT; Locala; University of Huddersfield; and Kirklees College.

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