Healthcare worker
The heathcare sector is struggling to find potential employees with digital skills.

Skills Gap crisis: Health sector badly hit by lack of staff with digital aptitude 

1 min read

The Health and Social Care sector in Staffordshire is struggling to find potential employees with digital skills, a report reveals. 

A survey for the Local Skills Improvement Plan (LSIP) has shown that 25 per cent of businesses in the sector are seeking applicants with computer and online proficiency. 

A lack of digital skills and investment is also adversely affecting staff retention and limiting improvements in working practices, the report shows. 

Health business leaders have also flagged up that they need people with sector-specific technical skills and transferable skills. 

Overall, 71 per cent of organisations recruiting in the sector have experienced difficulties. 

An event has been organised by LSIP at the Royal Stoke University Hospital on 6 March to bring Health/NHS employers and training providers together as part of its county-wide drive to tackle the skills gap problem. 

LSIP data for Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire show that top of the list of hard-to-fill vacancies in the health and social care sector are care assistants, care workers and home carers. 

There is also high demand for nurses, nursing auxiliaries and assistants, medical practitioners, nursery nurses, occupational psychologists, physiotherapists, pharmaceutical technicians and welfare and housing associate professionals. 

The rate of growth in job vacancies has spiralled between 2019 and 2024 with demand soaring for Human Resources and Industrial Relations officers (up 117 per cent), dental practitioners (up 13 per cent), paramedics (up 11 per cent), podiatrists (up 10 per cent) and speech and language therapists (up nine per cent). 

LSIP research has shown that hospitals’ and care homes’ difficulties in keeping staff are influenced by people’s perceptions following their experience of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Poor or complex payment provisions for the health and social care sector by local authorities are also a factor. 

The Local Skills Improvement Plan suggests upskilling remedies for a number of hard-to-find applicants. 

In the digital skills sphere, accredited and short modular courses are proposed to support employers digitise working practices. 

Improvements in specific technical and professional logistics qualifications would benefit care and community workers.

Higher technical qualifications could be developed for care managers. 

More technical development could be provided for staff wanting to upskill to team leader or supervisor status. 

More than 30 sessions to address the skills gap crisis are being set up for late February and March by Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce in their capacity as the Employer Representative for LSIP in the region, with business leaders from a wide variety of sectors being invited. 

To book for one of the LSIP events, click here.

Ron Quenby

Senior journalist with more than 25 years’ experience of working as a news reporter for provincial and national newspapers. Ron’s varied skills include feature writing, interviewing for real life stories and compiling specialist articles for in-house publications.

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