HEE publishes NHS work experience insight report that recommends new digital platform

Health Education England (HEE) has released the results of a new report on work experience within the NHS. The report features a series of recommendations for improvements – including introducing a new digital platform for people to use to find opportunities.

The Future of Healthcare Work Experience Discovery Report delves into the ‘NHS work experience landscape’, which it says is not just populated by younger people but includes “among others, the unemployed of all ages, those looking to change career, veterans, resettled refugees and prison leavers.”

HEE adds that: “Work experience provides unique insights into NHS careers – the interactions, schedules, emotions, sensations and outcomes associated with the range of roles on offer. “

According to HEE, the “absence of work experience” from the NHS Long Term Plan and Interim People Plan, “indicate that it is not sufficiently recognised as a mechanism of the workforce pipeline.”

The report, which was commissioned by the Widening Access and Participation team at HEE, was written by M L McAvoy. As well as setting out the goals of the publication, and how its evidence was collected, the document outlines options, insights and context around topics such as digital literacy, access to devices, and the impact of work experience.

User stories, case studies and an overview of the current work experience offering in the NHS – such as how applicants apply and the selection process – are also included in the literature.

Nine work experience user groups are identified in the report. These are: school pupils aged 14-15; young people aged 16-18; ‘veterans’; people with additional needs; prison leavers; resettled refugees; unemployed people; care experienced people; and career changers.

Insights found were that work experience in the NHS is “not sufficiently acknowledged as contributing to the workforce pipeline” and that “coordination is inconsistent and resources are being duplicated”, while information about who can apply can be unclear.

It was also found that digital resources and online experiences have “accelerated” but that although they can reach more people, these tools require “robust evaluation”.

In a report summary, suggestions for HEE to “consider and respond to” include:

  • Further exploration into a national work experience digital platform that is similar to NHS jobs – a National Management Platform that would act as a ‘long-term digital end-to-end service’ that enables staff to use it locally for advertising and coordination, but allows applicants across the country to visit just one site.
  • Consider launching a national communications campaign in the future, to help with ‘integrating a positive message’, and ‘reframing the profile’ of work experience.
  • Developing ‘online work-related learning content’ for specialities with no current resources, such as midwifery, pharmacy and ambulance services.
  • Continuing to provide and enhance the National Work Experience Network, ‘fostering a culture of collaboration’ and ‘sharing’, and discussing ‘what has and hasn’t worked’.
  • Encouraging a focus on ‘in-person work-related learning’, when it is deemed safe to do so.
  • Aiming for ‘high level buy-in’ across the NHS and developing a National Work Experience Strategy. 

HEE will publish an official response to The Future of Healthcare Work Experience Discovery Report in the autumn.

Read the full report, or find the summary here.