IT skills most lacking amongst voluntary healthcare employees claims new Skills for Health sponsored research

New research commissioned by the UK Workforce Hub and sponsored by Skills for Health (SfH) – the sector skills council for the NHS, independent and voluntary healthcare sectors – has identified the main skills gaps and skills shortages faced by employers in the voluntary healthcare sector.

The research examined the nature, scope and impact of skills gaps and shortages in paid employees within the voluntary sector in 2007.  In terms of skills gaps - where healthcare employers in the voluntary sector report having employees who are not fully proficient at their job - the top ten gaps cited were:

1.    Strategic use of IT (26 per cent)

2.    Fundraising skills (24 per cent)

3.    Communication skills (21 per cent)

4.    Marketing skills (19 per cent)

5.    Health and safety skills (19 per cent)

6.    Team working (17 per cent)

7.    Strategic planning and forward thinking skills (17 per cent)

8.    Leadership skills (16 per cent)

9.    Monitoring and evaluation skills (14 per cent)

10.  Legal knowledge (14 per cent)

Two-fifths of employers within the voluntary healthcare sector report an ‘increased time taken to deliver work’ as a result of their employees’ skills gaps, but the most frequently reported impact was ‘increased workload’.

‘Communication skills’ was top of the list of skills shortages reported by healthcare employers in the voluntary healthcare sector (23 per cent); followed by ‘the strategic use of IT’ (16 per cent) and ‘team work’ (14 per cent).  Skills shortages are those ‘hard to fill’ vacancies which are the result of a lack of required basic or specialist skills, qualifications or experience in job applicants.

Healthcare was the third most likely function to experience these hard to fill vacancies, less than one percentage point behind Youth Work and Social Care Provision.

Commenting on the findings, John Rogers, Chief Executive of Skills for Health said:

“This report raises some challenges for the healthcare sector as a whole which need to be addressed in partnership between individuals, organisations and government.  The findings will help refine Skills for Health’s work towards developing a skilled, flexible and productive workforce for the entire healthcare sector in England.”

The 75-page report; entitled Voluntary Sector Skills Survey 2007 – England, is available via the National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ website at


Notes to editors:

The research took place between November 2006 and January 2007 and involved 1,922 interviews across England with individuals responsible for human resources – 32 per cent of whom identified their work as being involved with healthcare and the provision if medical services.  Interviews were conducted using computer-aided telephone interviewing (CATI).  In organisations without a dedicated HR professional, the Chief Executive responded.

About Skills for Health – Skills for Health (SfH) is the Sector Skills Council for UK health, funded by the four UK health departments in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales; the Sector Skills Development Agency; the education act regulatory bodies; and health sector employers and providers.

The 25 Sector Skills Councils which make up the Skills for Business Network are licensed by the Secretary of State for Education and Skills in consultation with Ministers from the devolved administrations.  Each one has a sector ‘footprint’ and central goals to address skills gaps and shortages; improve productivity and performance; increase opportunities to boost skills; and improve learning supply.

Skills for Health’s sector footprint covers the entire National Health Service, and the whole of the independent and voluntary healthcare sectors across the UK - which collectively employ approximately 2 million people.  The majority of occupations are linked to hospital activities and community health services, but the sector also includes general medical and dental practitioners and healthcare professionals working in nursing homes and private surgeries, and retail outlets such as pharmacists, opticians and self-employed practitioners.

The overarching remit of Skills for Health is to ultimately help improve health and healthcare by assisting the whole healthcare sector in developing solutions which deliver a skilled and flexible UK workforce.

Specific Skills for Health aims are to:

  • profile the UK healthcare sector workforce
  • develop and manage national workforce competences across the UK healthcare sector
  • influence UK education and training supply to meet healthcare sector needs
  • improve the workforce skills of the UK healthcare sector
  • work with partners to achieve these aims.

Further information about Skills for Health and its work can be found at

The UK Workforce Hub aims to lead and facilitate action that makes it easier for voluntary and community organisations to: be great places to work; be better employers; and embrace a culture of learning and development. It also promotes the sector as a positive career choice. The hub is hosted and managed by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in England, and by its sister councils in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The UK Workforce Hub provides information, resources and signposting to :

1. Encourage more people to come and work or volunteer in the sector 2. Ensure people in the sector can develop the skills they need to do their jobs well 3. Encourage and support organisations to be better employers 4. Enable people to develop leadership and management skills.

For more information, visit or phone 0800 652 5737.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) is the umbrella body for the voluntary sector in England, with sister councils in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.  NCVO has a growing membership of over 5,400 voluntary organisations, ranging from large national bodies to community groups, volunteer centres, and development agencies working at a local level.  For more information please visit

Issue by Louise Jaggs at TextOnTap

On behalf of Skills for Health

t: +44(0)1242 257770  m: +44(0)7712 011246

f: +44(0)1242 257771  w:

Skype: louise-tot  SkypeIn: +44(0)20 7193 5212

Healthcare Republic does not have an editorial influence or input in to these press releases. The views expressed within these documents are not endorsed by Healthcare Republic or Haymarket Medical Publications Limited.

Enquiries should be directed to any contacts listed within the press releases.


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