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Education and Training

The health sector has a rich mix of qualifications with a high incidence of training. There is heavy investment in the skills of the workforce through a range of formal qualifications, vocational based training and development and continued professional development.

It has a high proportion of well qualified people, due to the number of highly skilled and highly qualified professionals working within the sector. 56% of the workforce has a higher education qualification (or equivalent).

Source: Skills for Health AACS LMI report 2010 and Sector Skills Assessment 2010

Entry and progression

The range of qualifications is reflected by the range of entry points into the health sector. Some entrants come in to the sector with a degree, whilst others may apply for some jobs with few qualifications and then, through training, work up the career ladder. With the development of the Career Framework for Health, opportunities for progression are numerous.

Typical progression routes depend upon the entry skills and qualifications of each individual. However, the potential for progression is not limited by these skills or qualifications. Progression routes in this sector are very flexible and there is transferability of skills and knowledge between all parts of the sub-sectors. So people can, for instance, transfer from roles in the NHS to the independent and third sectors.

Many professions in the sector require staff to have specific qualifications and to be registered with a professional body as part of a ‘statutory regulation’. If a job role requires registration with a professional body, then there will be specific requirements relating to ongoing learning. NHS Careers have an online course finder tool to enable a search of clinical study courses that meet the requirements of regulatory bodies.

Entry requirements are not just about formal qualifications, like degrees and National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs). Apprenticeships in the sector are increasing and cover a large range of jobs. Overall, jobs in the health sector rely heavily on the personal qualities of individuals, on their practical skills and previous experiences gained at work or in life generally.

There are a variety of Apprenticeships available across the health sector. The most popular being Health and Social Care which is a shared framework across England and Wales and has been developed by Skills for Health with Skills for Care and the Care Council for Wales .

All staff are required to undertake some basic training, such as health and safety.

Source: Skills for Health AACS LMI report 2010


The sector reports relatively high instances of training and development activities and High Performing Working Practices in relation to the whole economy.

Compared to the all-sector profile, the health sector shows a higher proportion of establishments with training plans and budgets. There are, therefore, comparatively high levels of establishments reporting they have funded or arranged training for their employees in the last 12 months.

Around 75% of establishments have a training plan setting out the training required for the next year, compared with only 48% across all sectors. The health sector also makes strong use of informal training practices, such as supervision, shadowing and allowing staff to undertake tasks beyond their job role.

Source: Sector Skills Assessment 2010