This theme explores how the health sector (i) can connect with hard to reach groups (long-term unemployed, the homeless, refugees and immigrants) in order to provide sustainable job opportunities including for older people; (ii) can work with the social enterprise sector to create employment opportunities; and (iii) develop training partnerships with the education and enterprise sectors that create viable ‘skills escalators’ that lift people into jobs and prosperity.
If health care employment policy and practice is to contribute to regional development then our workshop, case studies and policy forum identified a number of key messages:
- Where regions have been given responsibility for decisions in any of the basic elements of health care – public health, primary care, rehabilitation services, acute hospitals, mental health – it is vital that they also have the autonomy to plan, finance, and implement solutions to health care needs.
- When thinking about employment and how best to invest in the workforce, it is important to take an integrated approach. In other words, investment in the workforce should be considered in the context of shifts in service provision, the needs of other sectors (e.g. social services, community care, regional training and skills development), developments in technology, and broader societal values.
- The health landscape has common elements across regions (cost increase, the move from acute to primary care), but governance, politics, professional and power relationships can vary greatly.
- Differences in employment policy between and within countries make it unlikely that case models can be simply transferred; the key is to understand the principles and processes that lead to success (or lack of success).
The Health ClusterNet Interreg IIIC operation by engaging stakeholders, exchanging experience, and applying the generated new knowledge explored how the health sector can contribute to regional development through its employment activities. The learning is summarized in thematic reports and an Agenda.