Widening Access to Work Experience

This workshop focused on the challenges of getting people to come and work in Lincolnshire, which struggles to recruit because of its rurality, ageing population, low social mobility and limited public transport.

The solution was to ‘grow our own’, by creating opportunities and engaging with children in schools to educate them about roles in healthcare beyond just nurses and doctors. Work experience gets children interested in working in healthcare and it is hoped that they will then stay to work in Lincolnshire.

In groups we discussed what the barriers to engagement for students and employers might be, in terms of being able to access work experience:

  • Application process
  • Preconceived ideas – having only known the hospital as a patient
  • Age restrictions
  • Inconsistencies in process and placements
  • Widening participation not taken into consideration
  • Some Trusts only offer work experience to friends and family
  • Lack of Careers IAG
  • Staff resource and buy in
  • What’s in it for me? Lack of a CSR strategy or focus on WP
  • No dedicated resource in the Trust
  • Negative media about the NHS
  • Governance/health and safety issues

The top three that the workshop leaders had found for students were:

  • Size and infrastructure – not knowing how to engage with the NHS
  • Lack of opportunity and awareness – often meaning it’s about ‘who you know’
  • Process – no clear access point to get work experience

The top three for employers were:

  • Administration – managing applications and placements, health and safety and the lack of support for a risk assessment for young people. Concerns about age and the environment.
  • Knowing what students can do
  • Resource vs. benefits – identifying the value to the department, relying on the goodwill of staff when everyone is busy.

The solution in Lincolnshire was to work together across three Trusts to develop a centralised management service. This meant that students could see one NHS, with one central access point – not just for work experience, but also for apprenticeships, staff development and graduate programmes. The Lincolnshire Talent Academy was set up with its own Programme Board. The Academy created its own framework against the Get In, Get On and Go Further themes in Talent for Care which included various opportunities.

The central point means everything is online with placements searchable by geography, including the education framework, standardised paperwork, expectations set out and risk assessments available. The online system manages the whole process, including RAG rating risk assessments, tracking applications and doing all of the centralised admin with full reporting functionality. The ability for students to register themselves online is in development.

The system lists every school in the area and can track engagement and where enquiries have come from. It records all the student details including equality target group information, next of kin. The agreement is with the parent and the student, rather than with the school. Activity can be tracked for each student, meaning references can later be written for UCAS etc. several years on. Details can be taken for future vacancies, meaning a talent pool is being developed. Employers can input their availability for placements, including how long a gap they want between each work experience placement. The risk assessment is replicated on the system, and the system generates all the formal paperwork to send to the student.

Measures of success since the system was developed in September 2015: in 12 months, the number of placements has risen from 8 to 91 and the number of applications has risen from 53 to 473. There is no cost to schools, and the system is also available to use by university students and mature adults. It takes departments in the Trust just one day per year to input their details into the system and develop a standard placement.

Please click here to download the workshop presentation

Workshop 2 Widening Access to Work Experience

For further information please contact

Clare Flavell – Claire.Flavell2@ULH.nhs.uk

Sharon Jolly – Sharon.Jolly@LPFT.nhs.uk