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In 2018, the NHS suffered from a shortage of over 42,000 staff as it struggled to find new nurses, midwives and therapists to fill the growing skills gap. With no immediate cure for this issue, the healthcare sector was put under pressure once again when COVID-19 further exposed the problem.
As the economy looks to heal from a COVID-driven recession, the healthcare industry is already facing a new challenge that could hamper its recovery. The Guardian reported a post-Brexit shortage of key workers could affect the entire sector as vacancies such as healthcare assistants and senior care workers remain empty.
In our February 2021 Skills Gap Report, we discovered 84% of respondents in the healthcare sector were suffering from a lack of skilled workers. Alongside this, many claimed to be understaffed by 26% due to the COVID crisis. These issues don’t appear to have a quick fix either, 43% of managers expect Brexit will further impact the skills gap facing the industry.
In the NHS alone, around 14% of staff members are from outside the UK, made up of over 200 different nationalities. While free movement has been replaced with the Government’s skilled worker route, a combination of the economic impact of coronavirus and a renewed focus on domestic workers means the industry can’t rely on this approach to close the gap.
It’s also a worry that roles within the wider healthcare industry will suffer. While more senior care workers are needed, these roles only make up about 10% of the overall social care workforce, so adding this to the shortage occupation list will only have a small effect. The concerns within social care stem from many of the roles being ineligible for both the post-Brexit skilled worker immigration route and the shortage occupation list.
The skills gap doesn’t just cause issues from a recruitment perspective, it also affects the current workforce. Through our report, 39% of managers said their staff were having to work longer hours, adding extra pressure to internal teams and making the retention of staff tougher. With the average healthcare recruitment lead time hitting highs of 4.6 months, keeping skilled workers in roles is more important than ever.
The skills gap doesn’t just affect the healthcare industry. Through our research, we discovered over 66% of UK businesses across all industries have been impacted by skill shortages, costing over £6.3 billion per year in temporary staffing and training costs. To find out more, download our 2021 Skills Gap Report and get in touch, to see how we can help you keep ahead of the gap.
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