Weak English and maths skills are an obstacle to progression – at all levels in the healthcare sector

20 October, 2017

Beyond the Brand is a new Skills for Health report for Health Education England (HEE) on English and maths for career progression in the healthcare workforce.

Research into Higher Education Institution (HEI) English and maths entry requirements for HE health related vocational programmes also revealed some deeper issues and these – along with a plan for action – are detailed in the report.

Key findings:

  • Weak English and maths skills are present in the adult population in England in general[1]. Healthcare Employers, HEIs and others suggested this national position is reflected in the sector. They said weak English and maths skills are an obstacle to progression at all levels in the healthcare sector.
  • There was concern about how English and maths skills are defined, taught and assessed at all levels. And uncertainty about the connection between English and maths qualifications and the everyday use of English and maths at and for work in healthcare.
  • Qualifications in English and maths (and their brands) are seen as proxies for skills – but many in the sector and HE lack confidence in them.

Beyond the Brand will drive further action by Skills for Health designed to:

  • Connect the sector to Government strategic policy initiatives, designed to improve basic skills in English and maths in England.
  • Examine English and Maths requirements in the healthcare Apprenticeship standards for Senior Healthcare Support Worker and Registered Nurse and describe how these requirements are met in practice – and share examples.
  • Search out practical actions designed to improve basic skills learning in English and maths, at all levels of training and occupation in the sector and share these.

Find out more at our next webinar: Wednesday 25 October 2017 at 2.00pm


We will:

  • Share what we found out
  • Explain what we propose to do
  • Hear views and suggestions for short and long-term action

For more information, please contact: Finbar.Lillis@sfhassociate.org.uk

[1] ‘9 million people struggle with basic quantitative reasoning or have difficulty with simple written information’ (Małgorzata, et al. 2016: 9, OECD).