A pilot launched this week is set to widen access to health and social care careers for sixth form students at Airedale Academy in Castleford. Launched by NHS Wakefield Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the Wakefield General Practice Workforce Development Academy pilot provides vocational work experience placements for students in a variety of health and social care roles.


Over the next month, eight Year 13 Health and Social Care BTEC students will each undertake 100 hours of work experience with a number of different local health and social care providers working together as part of the Connecting Care programme. Connecting Care brings together partners from social care, healthcare, housing and voluntary sector organisations across the Wakefield district to improve integration of care.


Placements have been personally tailored for every student according to their individual career goals and ambitions. Airedale students will be placed in a variety of roles across Wakefield, including:

·         General practice nursing

·         Residential care with Wakefield Council

·         Children’s Outpatient Services at the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust

·         Mental health nursing at South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust (SWYPFT)

·         Fire and Rescue community services with West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue

Students will also participate in a week’s training and workshops with Connecting Care partners learning essential healthcare skills such as emergency first aid and dementia awareness. These sessions will be co-ordinated in partnership with Carers Wakefield and District, Spectrum Community Health, West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, Wakefield Council and the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust.


The pilot is the first stage of a wider plan to offer vocational work experience placements, internships and apprenticeships in general practice to school and college students across the district. It forms part of a broader ambition to grow a future health and social care workforce in Wakefield, for Wakefield.


Liz Harrap, Head of Sixth Form at Airedale Academy, said: “This is an opportunity to develop real and valuable work experience for our Year 13 Health and Social Care BTEC students at a time when the course has changed significantly.  Whilst in previous years we have relied heavily on the support of local feeder schools to provide placements, the new course precludes us from doing this. This means that finding health placements for our students is now more challenging than ever before.


“We are very excited to be the first provider to be involved in the initiative and look forward to getting involved in the wide range of opportunities on offer.”


Dr David Brown, Chair and GP Lead at the Wakefield General Practice Workforce Development Academy, said: “Vocational placements are ideal for those who prefer to learn in a more hands-on way. It’s about teaching real skills for the real world and growing our own future workforce right here in Wakefield.


“There are many different routes into healthcare careers – candidates do not always need further or higher education qualifications such as A Levels, or a university degree.


“This programme allows students to sample through work experience what working in health and social care is about. We are hoping it will be the springboard to the start of many new careers in Wakefield.”