What can be done to improve upskilling across the health sector?

upskilling health workers
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Sarah-Jane McQueen, General Manager of the online healthcare course comparison website at CoursesOnline, explores how the health sector can upskill frontline workers during a crisis

Staff training should be a priority. Despite this fact, many healthcare workers fail to get the opportunities that would help them excel in their roles. The truth of the matter is that there are a couple of challenges that this sector is currently facing, both of which may be a blockade when it comes to upskilling workers.  

The main challenges health workers face when upskilling 

The first is that many healthcare departments are running on empty. Staff shortages are nothing new for the National Health Service (NHS). This has been a prevailing trend in recent years. However, when the pandemic hit, it only accelerated. Earlier this year, the British Medical Association warned that England would be short of around 50,000 doctors ahead of winter 2021. Add that to the mounting crisis when it comes to nursing, and it paints a worrying picture for the world of healthcare. 

Thanks to those shortages, frontline workers have very little free time to devote to upskilling and training. The ‘all hands on deck’ approach means that the teams spend the majority of their time working with those most vulnerable. Despite this fact, it’s clear that there is a demand for additional training. Moving staff members along in their careers both supports the NHS and also allows team members to progress to new heights. 

The second challenge that healthcare workers are facing is the ongoing pandemic. Since the first COVID-19 outbreak in 2019, teams across the United Kingdom have seen themselves stretched to the brink. The endless precautions that workers have to take to keep themselves safe are difficult to manage. When it comes to training, this in itself presents another issue. How can you keep workers safe when they are taking courses?

Managers may be concerned that off-site training may present a risk to team members if done at locations which aren’t particularly strong on Covid compliance. For that reason, some departments could choose to temporarily pause any training programs that were in the pipeline. Put simply, the combination of shortages and the pandemic may mean that healthcare workers have a reduced access to training. 

Technology can assist in making upskilling more accessible

Fortunately, there’s an approach that overcomes these challenges. The endless leaps and bounds in technology means that it’s easier than ever for workers to access remote learning programs. 

With a wide variety of courses available exclusively online, it means that healthcare workers have more opportunities than ever. During the pandemic, the e-learning market spiked by more than 30% and continues to grow. With that in mind, here are some of the major advantages that this easy-to-access option offers: 

Safe for Workers 

Health and safety has been at the forefront of managers’ minds since the start of the pandemic and the danger from Covid is far from over. Therefore training options which don’t require participants to be physically present may be preferable to reduce the likelihood of them being in contact with somebody carrying the virus.


One of the biggest advantages of remote learning is that it is highly flexible. Healthcare workers can access course materials and assessments at times that suit them. Since many of these professionals are shift workers, that means that they can make their studies fit their erratic schedule. 

Simple to Use  

Regardless of how technologically savvy workers are, many e-learning courses are easy to use. Workers can simply log on, study the course of their choice, and then log off. This simple system means that everyone has access to remote learning no matter what level they are at. It is a straightforward option for every professional. 

Importance of upskilling health workers in the UK 

Upskilling health workers has never been more important. Healthcare is an ever-changing landscape, with new techniques and approaches being introduced all of the time. That means that workers need to keep their fingers on the pulse at all times. Offering teams continuous training opportunities means that they will stay ahead of the game and keep up to date with the demands of their given role. 

Moreover, since there are countless shortages in the NHS, training could provide a solution. Giving existing staff members the chance to learn new skills may mean that they can fill available positions or take on a varied post. Approaching the shortage crisis in this way gives staff members a chance to step up into new roles.

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