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Talent for Care and Widening Participation

Two programmes working together to improve the education, training and development opportunities available to current, potential and future NHS staff. Talent for Care has a specific focus on improving these opportunities for those working in a support role, while Widening Participation seeks to ensure the healthcare workforce is representative of the communities it serves, and that progression and opportunities are based on merit, not social background.

Talent for Care

While the support workforce make up 40% of the total NHS workforce and provide around 60% of patient care, this group receives less than 5% of the national training budget. We are working with various national, regional and local partners to change this picture, to increase investment in the support workforce and to spread good practice and innovation.

With a national focus on Health Care Assistants as a consequence of the Francis Inquiry and the Cavendish Review, Health Education England (HEE) was given a mandate by the Department of Health to improve the training for this group of staff.  We took the view that the education and development for all staff working in a support role is vitally important, and began work on plans for a strategic framework to address this need and the low levels of investment typically seen across the country.  Talent for Care now forms part of Framework 15HEE’s guide to action.

The Talent for Care national strategic framework - available in the related documents below - focuses on ten strategic intentions under the primary themes of:

  • Get In - opportunities for people to start their career in a support role
  • Get On - support people to be the best they can be in the job they do
  • Go Further - provide opportunities for career progression, including into registered professions.

For all general enquiries about Talent for Care or to find contact details for the lead in your local team, please email talentforcare@hee.nhs.uk.

Widening Participation

Widening participation remains a continuing workforce priority to ensure that the healthcare workforce represents the communities it seeks to serve. Health Education England (HEE) exists to improve the quality of care for patients by ensuring we have enough staff with the right skills, values and behaviours available for employment by providers. As part of our role we have leadership responsibility for promoting equality and diversity, and enabling widening participation in the development of the current and future healthcare workforce.

'Widening Participation, It Matters' sets out five key goals:

  • improve monitoring and reporting of widening participation activities
  • enhance further the visibility and targeting of health careers information and advice
  • increase, through research and evaluation, the understanding and evidence of what and what does not work in relation to widening participation developments in healthcare education and workforce development
  • increase collaborative approaches in supporting widening participation initiatives, including outreach activity
  • stimulate and increase the capacity of healthcare organisations in being able to expand and support work or work related experience opportunities.

For all general enquiries about Widening Participation or to find contact details for the lead in your local team, please email wideningparticipation@hee.nhs.uk.

  • Work Experience - Find out more about our work that helps people of all ages and backgrounds understand the world of work and make decisions about their education and career.
  • Health Ambassadors - Learn more about the Health Ambassador scheme, and how you can get involved.
  • Case studies - Here, we have selected a handful of Widening Participation projects that highlight the broad range of people and communities that are supported by access strategies that prioritise equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Good Practice in Widening Participation - Here, we showcase the great work that is being done in Widening Participation across HEE’s regional teams.
  • Resources at a Glance - All of the Widening Participation resources at your fingertips.

Partnership Pledge

The Partnership Pledge is a way to show your commitment to supporting the outcomes of the Talent for Care and Widening Participation strategic frameworks.

For employers and organisations

Partnership working between HEE, employers and trade unions is an essential component of the Talent for Care and Widening Participation strategic frameworks.  All parties have a direct interest in developing the healthcare support workforce and recognise that, by working in partnership, we can deliver real opportunities for staff working in a support role.

Sir Keith Pearson, Chairman of Health Education England, invites leaders to demonstrate their commitment to delivering the strategic intentions within Talent for Care and Widening Participation by signing the Partnership Pledge.  Read Sir Keith's letter.

The Partnership Pledge includes an action plan that you can use as a basis for your local planning and implementation.

There are two ways for you to return your signed pledge:  

  • Email - scan and email to talentforcare@hee.nhs.uk
  • Post
    Talent for Care team
    Health Education England
    2-4 Victoria House
    Capital Park
    CB21 5XB

We also encourage you to publish and share within your organisation.

For individuals

Individuals working at all levels are also invited to sign a Partnership Pledge to demonstrate their own commitment and desire to work with colleagues and within their own organisation to deliver Talent for Care and Widening Participation. The form can be downloaded and returned as above, or you can complete online.

Hundreds have already signed. These organisations and individuals are leading the way and have already pledged their commitment to education, training and development for the support workforce.

Keep up to date

Find out more about Talent for Care and Widening Participation projects by and taking a look at our workstreams.

To keep up to date read our latest newsletter. You can sign up to the quarterly newsletter by emailing talentforcare@hee.nhs.uk.

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Health Ambassadors

Would you like to help young people in your community to make an informed decision about their career choices? Do you have around 1 hour per year to volunteer as a Health Ambassador for your organisation to share your occupational expertise?

Read more

Work experience

Helping people of all ages and backgrounds understand the world of work and make decisions about their education and career.

Read more

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The Care Certificate

The latest versions of the free resources for the Care Certificate are now available on the webpages of Health Education England, Skills for Health and

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Shape of caring review

The Shape of Caring review (Raising the Bar) published in March 2015, aims to ensure that throughout their careers nurses and care assistants receive consistent high quality education and training which supports high quality care over the next 15 years.

Read more