“South Africa could be facing a healthcare workers crisis if the current and projected shortage of skilled health professionals is not addressed”. That’s the stark warning issued by the Health and Welfare Sector Education and Training Authority (HWSETA), following the recent release of data around critical skills.
While the World Health Organisation projects a worldwide workforce shortfall of about 18 million healthcare workers by 2030, recent local data shows that South Africa also has cause for concern. Earlier this month, Xpatweb’s Critical Skills Survey 2020/21 highlighted that ‘Health Professions and Related Clinical Sciences’ are among the country’s current top 10 most in-demand skills.
The Department of Home Affairs also recently published its draft critical skills list for South Africa. General medical practitioners, registered nurses, hospital, retail and industrial pharmacists are all listed as critical skills which are in short supply in the country.
HWSETA’s CEO Elaine Brass, believes that the Covid-19 pandemic has further compounded issues, making these skill shortages glaringly apparent.
“Health workers are among those who’ve been heralded as our national heroes during the pandemic. They have had to care for patients suffering from the virus, while fearing that they could fall ill too. We owe our support to those on the frontline at this time. By addressing these skill shortages, we will be able to better support our healthcare workers in the long run,” explains Brass.
She adds, “The pandemic has fuelled public interest in the healthcare system. Now is the time to have these tough conversations in order to attract more school leavers to the sector, and to ultimately increase the workforce trained each year.”
A career portal aimed at informing learners about how to pursue health, social development and veterinary-related careers in South Africa, has been launched by HWSETA. It offers a wide range of resources and career guidance advice.
Brass says, “We are urging the youth to consider careers in the health, social development and veterinary sectors. A crucial part of achieving a skilled healthcare workforce that meets the needs of South Africans, is creating awareness among school leavers about the exciting number of career opportunities that exist in these sectors.”
Those considering a career in these sectors can access the portal at – https://hw-careers.co.za/