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The most in-demand skills for the future of health

17 Nov 2020

Alex Dawson of Hays Healthcare explores the current jobs landscape in the wake of Covid-19, from essential skills to hiring trends.

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Through all the twists, turns, changes and challenges the pandemic has inflicted on the world of work this year, healthcare professionals have worked tirelessly on the frontline. Their efforts have, and continue to be, vital for protection.

However, Covid-19 has accelerated the demand for healthcare professionals and widened existing global skills shortages across the profession.

In light of this being Future Health Week, let’s ask: what skills are healthcare professionals in need of? And what does the future of jobs look like in this vital industry?

Healthcare skills shortages are widespread

First, a quick look at the skills shortages in the profession. Skills shortages that exist in the industry span wider than just Ireland and the UK. The World Health Organisation estimates that across the globe, there will be a healthcare workforce gap of around 14.5m by 2030.

Factors such as an ageing population, limited capacity in healthcare education programmes and increases in chronic diseases have been contributing to these shortages for some time.

Obviously, these shortages have become more acute with the rapid spread of Covid-19. In particular, the pandemic has highlighted a shortage of professionals within ICUs and theatres, as well as an increased need for mental health staff.

The technical and soft skills most in demand

Moving on to the skills landscape, there is of course the need for specific skills aligning to shortages within the sector. These roles, along with most others in healthcare, almost always require a specific degree or specialised training.

However, a successful healthcare professional needs more than simply their qualification. Employers look beyond CVs and consider what soft skills and personal attributes the candidate possesses and whether this makes them suitable for the role.

The most in demand soft skills now are:

  • Emotional intelligence: in order to empathise with patients and act sensitively in difficult situations that others may be facing
  • Communication: a core skill in many professions but especially in healthcare, where staff need to communicate effectively with patients and their families as well as with coworkers
  • Teamwork: needed to work with colleagues for the good of a patient – this might mean taking on extra tasks and responsibilities
  • Time management: when lives are at risk, it’s crucial to prioritise what’s important – the nature of the profession also means that you will often be pulled in different directions

It’s worth mentioning that employers are increasingly looking beyond their traditional candidate pools to find professionals with great transferable skills. This helps free up those with the technical skills and organisational insights that are most needed currently.

An insight into hiring

While employers in many professions have exercised caution in hiring due to the pandemic, the opposite is the case in healthcare. Recruiting talent to help deliver life-saving services has never been more important or more time-sensitive than it is now.

Click here to visit the Hays Viewpoint blog.

At Hays Healthcare, we are working closely with our customers and candidates to help them meet the growing demand for talent. We are also working with our international clients to draw in nursing talent to support the healthcare sector.

Our work has so far helped us attract talent from places such as India, the Philippines, the Middle East, Europe and Australasia.

The future of jobs in this sector

There’s still a way to go before we can be completely clear about the effects of the pandemic, but many businesses are thinking hard about their future skills needs.

Unfortunately, there’s no immediate solution to the staffing shortages in the healthcare sector. But it’s encouraging to see a desire from organisations wanting to invest in training to upskill applicants all over the world. Allowing the sector to draw from a wider pool of staff will, in time, ease the pressure on frontline workers.

The crisis may have accelerated global skills gaps and demand for healthcare professionals, but the unbelievable efforts of those working on the frontline are very much felt. Greater upskilling and widening the net to different talent pools today will help ensure a strong pipeline of skills for tomorrow.

By Alex Dawson

Alex Dawson is a senior business director at Hays Healthcare.

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