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Imparting skills and enhancing employment opportunities

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Dr Pulijala Srinivasa Rao, CEO, Apollo Medskills Ltd (AMSL) informs that in the next 10 years, India will require a huge skill manpower in healthcare sector

Healthcare sector is the least automated sector where there is an immense need for trained and skilled professionals for offering quality services to the patients. Skill development and knowledge enhancement in the healthcare sector is the need of the hour. India continues to face a skilling challenge of vast proportions. It is estimated that 104 million fresh entrants to the workforce will require skill training by 2022, and 298 million of the existing workforce will require additional skill training over the same time period.

Growing skill gap

Healthcare is one of the largest industries today both in terms of revenue and also size of employment, one of the biggest challenges that we face here is lack of skilled manpower. And, in a country like India not just shortage of skilled manpower but also lack of infrastructure for healthcare training and skilling is also a challenge. Globally, there is a shortage of about
80 million workforce. India, as we talk, is short of six million paramedics today. If you look at the WHO standards, 2.9 beds are required for every 1000 population and in India, we have only 0.9 beds. In order to meet this requirement, we need to add one lakh beds each year both in public and private hospitals. So, every bed needs about six to  eight manpower. So, one lakh beds would need eight lakhs skilled resources.

Apollo MedSkills Ltd (AMSL), since its inception in 2012, has committed to specifically impart skills for unemployed youth, school dropouts, and women particularly from backward regions and rural areas to enhance their employment opportunities. These are models that can be emulated, whether it is to ensure gainful employment for the paramedics through basic skilling or reskilling and upskilling of doctors and nurses.

Future job trends

Allied and Healthcare Professionals (A&HPs) constitute an important element of the health human resource network, and the skilled and efficient A&HPs can reduce the cost of care and dramatically improve the accessibility to quality driven healthcare services. Apart from skill development, many medical and management professionals are looking for up-skilling and re-skilling opportunities to enhance their knowledge and skills on the emerging trends in the healthcare industry. To address this demand and prepare the professionals who aspire to upgrade themselves, Apollo MedSkills has partnered with a wide range of education and healthcare institutions in India and across the globe including, Health Education England, Bolton University, University of Hyderabad, Kaziranga University, AISR, The William Light Education to jointly offer a variety of programmes with joint certification. Thus, creating a pool of trained professionals for the sector.

Some of the emerging areas like home healthcare and telemedicine, there is a severe shortage and there is a need for technicians in big numbers. Overall, in the next 10 years, India will require a huge skill manpower in this sector. India would need 80 million additional healthcare workforce globally in next 10 years. There are also emerging niche areas like healthcare analytics, sports medicine and rehabilitation, health informatics, health data science etc. We were talking only about the two bottom levels of the healthcare pyramid allied health and healthcare support services so far, but we also need people across healthcare human resource’s pyramid. At the top, we have super-specialty doctors and then general practitioners, nurses, allied health professionals and healthcare support services.

The government has been driving a variety of programmes with nation’s well-being as the core objective. In order to implement these programmes including Ayushman Bharat, the Skill India Mission, the government would need a large number of trained workforce to make these programmes happen on ground successfully.

An individual’s health management and risk mitigation mechanisms associated with their health are the major areas that these programmes embark upon. There is a huge scope for training the youth of the country to cater to the multiple layers of education in healthcare where at the bottom of the pyramid is healthcare support service education, allied and paramedical education is placed at a level above that who become employable by the sector for delivering the best patient-care.

Next generation healthcare programs will be more Artificial Intelligence (AI) and healthcare data science based. As for data analysis we can’t use it only as marketing purposes but it can lead to clinical outcomes. We will be working with engineering and clinical graduates preparing them for future jobs in health industry.

In our country, the main causes of death are road accidents followed by cardiac diseases and then comes neurological diseases and so on. Apart from emergency situations, there are many people who are in need of partial, complete and time-to-time care takers due to their age, illness or for various other reasons. Some of the job roles which are in high demand in allied healthcare are home health aides, phlebotomy, pharmacy assistants, dialysis technicians, emergency technicians, cardiac experts. In every such emergency situation, there is a need for skilled professionals like emergency medical technicians to handle the situation by giving first aid and then rush the patient to the hospital for further treatment. There is a huge shortage for such technicians who play a vital role in saving lives and where the emergency technicians are in great demand.

Challenges in training and retaining skills

At Apollo MedSkills, we have aligned ourselves to the goals of Skill India movement and our initiatives are integrated with the industry demand. During mobilisation of the target group for training, our strategy is different for different levels of training. We carefully avoid aspiration mismatch as much as possible, because we are working on training workforce who will be in the job roles of saving lives in future. Students should have commitment and empathy and the ability to work under stress. There are two levels of screening; apart from the regular educational qualification screening wherein most of
programmes eligibility criteria mandates for pass in class 10+2 in biology as a subject; aspiration level that is difficult to measure. When the students are exposed to certain practical situations like drawing of blood, seeing things related to human physiology, there is a resistance to continue in the healthcare field. They may drop out. Hence, we have created an Aspiration Gauger that ensure the right information to the student about their job role.

The second level of screening happens when they enroll for the training programmes and attend the class room sessions. Job environment counseling helps them to learn about the challenges they may have to face so we may see some drop outs at this stage as well. Students who can strike the right balance in the aforesaid situations will continue and progress in their career in the healthcare industry.

Our programmes address the skilling, up-skilling and re-skilling training needs that create employability opportunities and a robust career path. Healthcare is an area that is concerned to every age-group and hence our programmes are designed for short, mid and long term duration. School health programmes, workshops and seminars, healthcare awareness drives are conducted in association with corporates, schools, and educational institutions. The innovative and differentiated approach that we adopt in designing the curriculum for the students enables them to carve a path and eventually progress in their career.

The skilling programmes are aligned to the emerging trends in the industry and relevant for the changing lifestyles in the society. Our programmes train the candidates in a variety of skills required for future job roles including geriatric aide, home health aide, nurse assistant, pharmacy assistants; X-Ray technicians, phlebotomy technicians, diabetes educator, radiology technicians, dialysis technicians. After completion classroom and on-job-training, the students will be assessed by the industry experts – Health Sector Skill Council (HSCC) and Apollo MedSkills Limited and a certificate is issued by the
assessing authorities upon successful completion of the course.

The up-skilling programmes for nurses – Global Learners Programs, Tiara are offered in association with the government bodies and international partners. Upon successful completion of these programs, the nurses are provided with a join-certification that opens up a wide range of job opportunities to learn, earn and return with an enriching experience in the global healthcare industry. Workshops and seminars are conducted on specific topics as per the need of the industry
so that the professionals can acquire skills with appropriate training.

The re-skilling programmes are designed for all the layers of staff in a hospital set-up like government hospitals, corporate hospitals, clinics, multispecialty hospitals, diagnostic centres where there is an immediate necessity for learning the best practices followed by the industry to provide quality care to the patients.

Digital healthcare and new job roles

Healthcare is impacted by three B’s – Bandwidth (Technology), Bytes (Cloud storage leading to predictive data analytics) and Biology (Genetics and Molecular biology). The courses in health informatics, public health, healthcare data analytics and molecular biology and translational medicine are just emerging in the Indian market. While the private sector is adopting into the future trends, there is still a lot to do to catch up with the global trends in healthcare. With changing dynamics in the healthcare industry the organisations should develop strong training and development arms within the healthcare organisations. There is a scope for finishing schools in healthcare to bridge the gap between the college education and changing industry needs.

In my opinion, the industry least effected by automation is healthcare. While the current roles in healthcare (doctors, nurses, allied health, healthcare managers) will exist, new roles will like home health aides and geriatric aides for the growing geriatric population and cultural changes happening in the family structures. With technology complimenting the healthcare operations new roles like e-health consultants, data analytics managers, tele-health technicians will emerge. With increasing research in genetic and molecular basis of disease, genetic counsellors and Molecular medicine consultants will emerge in this area.

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