North Lanarkshire Council has backed the creation of a Health and Social Care Academy which could create thousands of jobs.
Councillors endorsed a vision for the Academy, which is being proposed to deal with the ticking timebomb of a lack of staff in the sector set against increasing demand.
When created, the Academy will bring together the council, NHS, voluntary sector and further and higher education partners to create education tailored for the workplace and high quality jobs.
Councillor Frank McNally, convener of the council’s Education Committee, said: “Research and workforce projections tell us that there will be a dearth of skilled staff in the health and social care sector if we do not invest now in the workforce of the future.
“Unemployment in North Lanarkshire is still unacceptably high and it’s important that we focus our efforts on where jobs will be required. This is an ambitious vision, bringing together all the relevant partners who can ensure we have sustainable services in the future and, at the same time, deliver on our commitments to jobs and the local economy.”
The Health and Social Care Academy will develop and promote a range of entry routes to jobs in the sector. Health and Social Care North Lanarkshire, working with NHS Lanarkshire, the council and the voluntary sector, will identify skills and competency gaps as part of a large-scale workforce planning exercise and examine the delivery of new and innovative models of care in the future.
Over the next 20 years there will be 36,000 more people aged 75 and over living in Lanarkshire, a rise of 48 per cent. This will increase the health and social care needs of the population. Over the same period, the working age population is estimated to decline.
Pathways into the sector under the Academy will include schools, further and higher education and direct entry.
Councillor Paul Kelly, depute leader of the Council and a member of the Joint Integration Board for health and social care, said: “It’s clear that we must act now to ensure a sustainable future for the sector.
“When people think about care they often think about home support. That’s a large part of the mix, but there are many other roles, from social work to mental health practitioners, that will be required to deliver care.
“In addition, we have an opportunity to create a clear pathway to employment for thousands of people in North Lanarkshire and also provide support to the army of unpaid carers who do such a remarkable job every day.”
Following approval of the report, the partners will work together to provide detailed workforce plans to inform creation of the Academy.