The neighbouring West Yorkshire districts of Kirklees and Calderdale centre on the towns of Huddersfield and Halifax respectively. Recruitment into the areas’ health and care sector is hindered by national labour shortages and hampered further by a couple of key local factors.
One is the proximity of other major centres. Huddersfield, for example, is within 14 miles of the cities of Leeds, Bradford and Wakefield, which offer numerous competing job opportunities in a wide range of sectors.
Also, engagement with secondary school students over health and care career or learning opportunities in Kirklees and Calderdale was previously undertaken by multiple trusts, foundations, educational institutions and local authority departments, all working separately. It became clear that a more holistic approach could pay-off, not least because it might save these organisations time and resources, including money.
In 2020, we were therefore appointed by NHS England, which asked us to develop a five-year project, designed to remedy local health and care sector skill and labour deficits, by improving the volume and diversity of young applicants for posts. The programme’s initial focus was Kirklees alone but its early success meant it was soon extended to Calderdale. The initiative is now known as the Kirklees and Calderdale Health and Care Pathways project and is co-funded by sector employers in the two districts.