How can the NHS attract digital talent?

Karen Alexander, director of delivery at Sopra Steria Recruitment, looks at the strategies being implemented across the NHS in order to close its digital literacy gap and bring the service into the 21st Century

The NHS needs to attract the best talent if it is to realise its digital dream

According to a recent Lloyds Bank UK Consumer Digital Index report, 21% of the British population lacks at least one basic digital skill, equivalent to around 11.3 million adults.

And, as the largest employer in the UK, this gap is something reflected in the NHS, where, up until recently, fax machines were still in common use in some areas.

However, with the latest iteration of the NHS’s Long-Term Plan, which calls for the integration of technology to previously-unprecedented levels; the fact that workforces are still significantly lacking in digital skills should give decision-makers plenty of cause for concern.

The fact that workforces are still significantly lacking in digital skills should give decision-makers plenty of cause for concern

Future staffing strategies must prioritise attracting the type of talent that can enable the NHS to carry out digital transformation.

So, how can public sector organisations become relevant to attract the talent they need when competition is so fierce?

Creating strong EVP

A crucial step towards building strong, digitally-skilled talent pipelines is creating an EVP that is actually relevant for potential recruits.

With plenty of perhaps-more-appealing brands to compete against, the NHS and public sector organisations must take action to get in front of the same audience that these companies do.

Karen Alexander

For example, by giving young people a glimpse of some of the high-tech, cutting-edge work going in the health service, emerging talent may be persuaded to pursue careers there. Also, showcasing the work going on in areas like precision medicine, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and blockchain, which could all be potentially groundbreaking in healthcare, will undoubtedly go some way to attracting the talent needed.

Home-grown talent

While actively attracting talent is key to preparing workforces for the digital age, and the NHS does need to make changes to its approach, there is also a pressing need for upskilling existing workers.

Showcasing the work going on in areas like precision medicine, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and blockchain, which could all be potentially groundbreaking in healthcare, will undoubtedly go some way to attracting the talent needed

Making digital skills a core part of CPD will go a long way to boosting job satisfaction, and as a result, retention.

In fact, one survey suggested that 70% of workers are influenced to stay in a role due to job-related training.

Therefore, making digital skills a cornerstone of future Continued Professional Development (CPD) efforts will prove doubly effective as a tool for not only increasing the efficiencies through digital transformation, but also helping to ease the challenges around retention.

While progress has been taken in recent years, such as the Royal College of Nursing’s ‘every nurse is an e-nurse’ campaign; raising the digital literacy of staff is perhaps still not enough of a priority for decision-makers.

Finding the right partner

Instrumental in attracting the right talent is to ensure you have a dedicated recruitment partner.

As one of our clients outlines, this is absolutely key in enabling it to meet NHS staffing demands.

With plenty of perhaps-more-appealing brands to compete against, the NHS and public sector organisations must take action to get in front of the same audience that these companies do

In fast-paced client environments, where recruitment solutions need to be flexible and deliver timely results, selecting a partner that is extremely knowledgeable about the market and understands the particular requirements of the NHS can be the deciding factor in being able to meet resourcing needs. In fact, as a result of our partnership, the organisation achieved a significant number of temporary to salaried conversions, along with dedicated talent pooling and pipeline functions.

Ultimately, having a trusted partner in place with expertise in sourcing the right people from the earliest stages of the recruitment process all the way through to on-boarding and induction can not only to help meet short-term goals, but also train your internal hiring team to achieve long-term objectives.

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