Intended for healthcare professionals


Health sector skills gaps threaten transformation

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 09 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d766

Failure to tackle growing gaps in management and leadership skills will hobble the necessary transformation of the workforce, indicates a review of the health sector’s skills and workforce needs.

Figures from the UK Sector Skills Assessment 2011 show that a third of employers in England report gaps in management and leadership skills, while in both England and Scotland gaps in problem solving skills were reported by 44% and 47% of employers, respectively. Around two in five employees said that teamwork was an issue.

Basic skills, like literacy and numeracy were also in short supply, the assessment showed. One in five health sector employers in England reported skills gaps in literacy, while 15% reported skills gaps in numeracy.

“Skills gaps are always a cause for concern and are particularly worrying at a time when the sector is undergoing significant change,” said Skills for Health head of research Ian Wheeler. “Management, team work and problem-solving skills in particular are set to become much more important as employers embark on large-scale workforce transformation,” he added.

Employers must continue to invest in skills development, if they were to ensure a flexible and productive workforce capable of delivering high quality care, he said.

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