Local NHS services in West Yorkshire are benefitting from new investment to train and upskill people for jobs in the health and social care sector.

In an unprecedented move for the region, West Yorkshire Mayor Tracy Brabin is funding training for frontline NHS workers.

The £1.3 million investment will fund a variety of courses aimed at introducing people to health and social care roles, with clear pathways for progression into secure jobs in hospitals, hospices, and other healthcare settings.

This will also help upskill people already working in the healthcare sector, such as nurses who want to progress from hospitals to GP or “general practice” settings, as well as more general “advanced skills” courses, to help people secure better-paid roles in the region.

The Mayor has issued a warning to the government that this funding is a “sticking plaster over the gaping wound” of the NHS recruitment and retention crisis, and Ministers must provide sustainable funding for the NHS to train the number of frontline staff it needs to support patients.

Tracy Brabin, Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Our NHS is in crisis, but here in West Yorkshire, our devolved powers over skills training are allowing us to step in to support our stressed and strained frontline services.

“The Government must put forward a real plan to save our economy, rescue our public services, and fix the NHS’s recruitment and retention crisis for good.

“This means proper funding for health and social care across the country, but also a single funding settlement for our region, so that we can harness that greater flexibility to support more jobs and build a stronger, brighter West Yorkshire.”

The West Yorkshire Combined Authority predicts that over 1,000 new workers will be recruited as a result of the over £1 million investment in skills training for healthcare roles.

The funding has been allocated by regional leaders from the so-called “Gainshare” – the discretionary £38 million per year fund devolved to West Yorkshire as part of its devolution deal.

This flexible approach to funding has brought decision-making closer to where people live, with this new investment in healthcare training a direct response to local labour market data, which shows that there were more than 3,300 job postings for health and social care roles in February 2024 alone.

Data also shows that the NHS staffing crisis is felt more severely in Yorkshire and the Humber than elsewhere in the country, with 9.2% of NHS roles vacant in the year 2022-2023, compared to the average rate of 3.4% across the UK.

Cllr Cathy Scott, Leader of Kirklees Council and Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Employment and Skills Committee, said: “Everyone should have the chance to get the skills they need to succeed, no matter their background or circumstances.

“So I’m pleased we’re able to support people into good, well-paid jobs through this investment.

“And having the qualified people to take on these vitally important healthcare roles is making a difference throughout our communities, as we work to create a West Yorkshire that works for all.”

West Yorkshire Learning Providers, which deliver the healthcare training on behalf of the Mayor, are holding a high profile careers event on 24th April at St George's Centre in Leeds, to bring health and social care employers together, and help people access training for these vitally important roles across the region.

The Mayor is encouraging people to book onto the careers event by emailing kelly.townend@wylp.org.uk. More information about the wide variety of healthcare courses can be accessed online at https://www.futuregoals.co.uk/skillsconnect/#health.

Alex Miles, Managing Director of West Yorkshire Learning Providers, said:
Over the past year and half we’ve supported over 800 people through a wide range of courses, in response to the challenges faced by the health and social care sector across West Yorkshire.

The courses have resulted in employees taking both higher level specialist roles as well as greater volunteering opportunities as a stepping stone to starting a great career in the sector.

We are excited to further develop our offer to include opportunities to support graduates, adapt to advancements in technology, tackle the recruitment and upskilling challenges facing the sector, and focus on making training accessible to all.

Faith, a graduate who started her journey as a volunteer for a charity in Bradford, progressed into paid employment as a healthcare assistant in a care home, after completing one of the training programmes. She said:

“Every part of the course is amazing. We had different topics, built confidence and a chance to improve my CV.

“It opened doors for me. My goals were achieved, and I am now working as a healthcare assistant in a care home. I would recommend the programme to anyone.”

Karen, also a volunteer before progressing into paid employment as a drug and alcohol support worker, said: “The course helped me by giving me the confidence to apply for a paid role. It helped me to realise I had a lot of knowledge and lived experience and the fact that I was wanting a career change at 50 years old, was definitely not a barrier. If you want to achieve your goal you can!

“I would definitely recommend the course to others in a similar situation, or even wanting to start out in a career in care as lots of good advice and tools are given on the course.”