North East Regional Health Skills Hub Group – Strategic Development Fund (SDF)

27 September, 2022

£2.7 million funding has been awarded to plug ‘hidden’ healthcare skills gaps in the North East. A new group has recently secured £2.7 million, from the government’s Strategic Development Fund (SDF) which helps Further Education providers respond to skills needs, to increase healthcare training provision and align it with the needs of employers in the North East. Suzanne Duncan, Principal and CEO, East Durham College:

“..we know that a maturing workforce is leading to skills shortages and that both public and private sector health employers are struggling to recruit the people they need.

“And this is by no means limited to the more obvious roles, like the 50,000 nurses that the government has promised. It’s also the many, many behind-the-scenes roles like healthcare scientists, pharmacists and manufacturers which are the backbone of the NHS and our health sector.

To help address this vital issue, 18 months ago, the health and education sectors came together to form the North East Regional Health Skills Hub.

The group is made up of a number of further education colleges: Bishop Auckland College, Derwentside College, East Durham College, Gateshead College, New College Durham, Sunderland College and Tyne Coast College along with the University of Sunderland, private training provider Learning Curve Group and Health Education England as well as the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP).

This group have a strong relationship with Health Education England, facilitated by the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP), who have shared data with the group about the shortages of skilled workers for particular jobs.

The Funding will be used to increase training provision in priority areas, and build college facilities like immersive suites, science manufacturing labs and pharmaceutical spaces.

This group will also be working with schools to promote all the careers available across the health sector to pupils.

“When a young person decides they want to be an engineer, do they realise there are engineering roles in the NHS? And the same goes for the huge number of back-office functions in healthcare, like HR and digital roles. Improved careers advice and guidance will help young people access these opportunities.” Suzanne Duncan, Principal and CEO, East Durham College