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Home > News > July 2007 > 23 July 2007

Deal aims to tackle skills gaps in healthcare sector

Skills for Health, the sector skills council for the public, private and voluntary healthcare sectors, has signed a new multi-million pound Joint Investment Framework involving Strategic Health Authorities and the Learning and Skills Council.

Over time, the deal could see up to £100m of additional funds being delivered annually into the health service in England to tackle skills gaps and shortages.

The Joint Investment Framework is a rolling three-year agreement between the Strategic Health Authorities, the Learning and Skills Council, and Skills for Health. Funding will focus on healthcare staff working in bands 1 to 4; funding apprenticeships, skills for life, and other skills development and qualifications at levels 2, 3 and 4.

The Framework is part of the Sector Skills Agreement for Health (SSA). The SSA's aim is to achieve improved healthcare services by helping to ensure that the sector has a skilled, flexible workforce.

Commenting on the agreement, Ann Keen, parliamentary under secretary of state for health, said: "This agreement shows we value the health workforce and is evidence of our commitment to their training and development.

"For those working in the healthcare sector it will mean increased opportunities and better prospects; for employers, it will ensure a higher skilled, more flexible workforce; and for patients, it will result in improved levels of service and care."

John Rogers, chief executive of Skills for Health, said: "Our vision is to improve healthcare services by ensuring that the sector has a skilled and flexible workforce. The Sector Skills Agreement for Health is our mechanism for achieving this.

"To date we have already gained the support of more than 70 partners across the UK who are working with us to help accomplish this objective. The new Joint Investment Framework is an important example of the Sector Skills Agreement in action."

Mark Haysom, chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council: "Improving skills and reducing skills gaps and shortages is vital if we are to build first-class public services in this country. That is why this agreement is so important. It represents a very significant move to ensure that the healthcare sector and its workforce are equipped with the best vocational skills that are available. We at the LSC are delighted to be involved in this agreement and the partnership that has brought it to fruition."

Cynthia Bower, chief executive of West Midlands Strategic Health Authority, said: "This is a significant additional investment in the skills of staff in bands 1-4 who traditionally have had fewer opportunities to develop their skills. This partnership offers an exciting way forward and will make a real difference to the quality of care we provide for all our patients."

For more information on the Sector Skills Agreement for Health, visit: http://www.skillsforhealth.org.uk/ssa

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