“Given the magnitude of COVID-19 impact, though we are able to manage with the current workforce, there is a huge need for a skilled workforce in the healthcare industry”, says Mr. Ashish Jain, CEO, Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC).
Healthcare is one of the most stressed industries not only in India but also across the globe. Among several challenges that the healthcare industry is currently facing, the shortage of skilled healthcare workforce and professionals is the most critical one.
There is an urgent need to address the skill gap by investing in reskilling, upskilling, and new skilling of the new entrants, as well as the existing workforce. We conversed with Mr. Ashish Jain, CEO, Healthcare Sector Skill Council (HSSC) to understand the role of HSSC and various initiatives the organization has been taking to address the skill gap in the healthcare sector, challenges, the in-demand job roles in the healthcare sector among others.
These are few excerpts from our conversation. You can watch the full video interview on our YouTube channel, for which the link is given below.
Q: What is the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the healthcare industry?
A: No other industry could have faced the kind of magnitude we have faced. Though we are able to manage with the current workforce, there is a huge need for a skilled workforce in the healthcare industry.
The doctor-to-patient ratio in our country is currently lower than what the WHO (World Health Organisation) recommends. Multiple studies have also pointed out the same. Despite few challenges, the government has taken several initiatives to increase the number of skilled persons in healthcare, like setting up nursing and medical colleges.
There is another important cadre in healthcare – the healthcare support staff. They take away the burden from the doctors, nurses and devote time to the patients. There is a large need to focus on this cadre of support staff. When we build this cadre of the workforce, we will be able to bridge the skill gap in the healthcare sector. We expect that there will be about 2.6 million support staff required in healthcare by 2030.
Q: What are some of the initiatives HSSC has taken to reskill and upskill the existing workforce in healthcare?
We are in continuous touch with various stakeholders on the ground and with experts in the healthcare system. We are trying to assess the requirement of the staff in the healthcare sector and work on upskilling the workforce.
When it comes to a Training Partner, we are in a continuous dialogue with them and hand-hold them in certain areas. There are a few job roles that become National Skills Qualification Committee (NSQC) cleared job roles. We are working with partners who are offering NSQC approved job roles as well as the ones who are offering courses that are in alignment with the current requirements of the healthcare industry due to COVID-19.
We are also looking at providing online skill training. We are trying to adopt a blended mode of learning where there is an online training and offsite training whenever the situation permits. We are currently focused on building the capacities of the existing workforce through the online mechanism.
As the existing workforce is already trained, they can reskill and upskill themselves through online programmes. This would help them in closely working with doctors and nurses and it would be helpful for them to work in the COVID-care centres.
Q: Are there any other platforms or initiatives for online training, similar to iGOT portal on healthcare?
A: “iGOT” (Integrated Government Online Training) is the platform which is created specifically for healthcare workers by the Government of India to tackle COVID-19 cases and manage the situation.
There are few other platforms for online programmes which are much needed in this current situation. We ran a programme called COVID Warriors to upskill the existing healthcare professionals and help them deal with COVID-19. Most of our partners are also coming up with their own platforms in which they run multiple online courses (both short- and long-term courses) in healthcare.
Q: What are top five in-demand job roles in the healthcare during the pandemic?
A: The top five in-demand job roles would be:
General Duty Assistant (Advanced)
Emergency Medical Technicians
Technicians who can install, repair and maintain medical equipment
There is an increased demand for home healthcare services, for phlebotomists, who can collect the samples, transport them and store them in labs.
The workforce must be appointed in rural areas too, as there is a fear that rural areas might fall short of the required medical staff and services. These people must be available at public as well as private healthcare centres, both in rural and urban areas.
Q: With the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, how are skilled people made available in the rural areas?
A: We need people at rural sites in the shortest possible time. To get people in a short time, we pick the candidates from their respective districts and train them for deployment in nearby areas.
With this kind of selection, there is no need of traveling from one district to another. Therefore, they can work and provide services effectively in their districts.
The government is also trying to seek demand at district level areas and then align it with training at the district level to make sure the trainers are deployed immediately in these districts, at sub-centers, Public Healthcare Centres, and district hospitals as well.
In terms of technology, we must adopt a blended skill training model in healthcare to train people. This will also have onsite training where certain hands-on skills will be provided on the job. Trainees would then be deployed in hospitals, for a few months.
Also read: Skill2Jobs – Healthcare Industry: Skills, Training, and Careers – Read more: https://www.nationalskillsnetwork.in/skill2jobs-healthcare-industry-skills-training-and-careers/
Q: HSSC being responsible for AYUSH too, are there any steps taken in this direction?
A: AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy) is the mandate that has been added to HSSC. We are interacting with the Ministry of AYUSH on developing requirements for AYUSH.
Especially for COVID-19, we started with an animated video based upon Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s talk, Mann Ki Baat on how Ayurveda can be utilized for developing immunity and what kind of immunity-boosting measures could be done. The video has been circulated well among the people and became a huge hit.
Under Ayushman Bharat, there is a proposal to set up 1,50,000 health and wellness centres across the country. Out of those 1,50,000 health and wellness centres, 12,500 are dedicated to AYUSH.
We are closely working with the Ministry of AYUSH to develop and supply the skilled workforce for AYUSH health and wellness centres. There is a need to train and develop the workforce for health and wellness centres where people can utilize the services of AYUSH. They can play a key role during the current times.
Q: What is your message to young professionals who are willing to join the healthcare industry?
A: Healthcare is a domain that gives immense personal satisfaction. Seeing a smile on patient’s face after saving their lives gives more satisfaction than receiving a remuneration. All healthcare workers and professionals are highly valued in society.
Technology is appealing to youth as it has brought in Robotic Surgery, Machine Learning, etc. They should look forward to working in the healthcare sector as it involves respect, money and has a technology component to it.