The Education Minister has visited Livingston to see how West Lothian College is equipping Covid workers for new jobs in health and care.

Education Minister, Jamie Hepburn, has visited West Lothian College to learn about a new skills initiative that is already giving people new opportunities and supporting Scotland’s future health and social care services.

The College recently teamed up with the Scottish Ambulance Service to look at retraining workers employed in Covid-19 mobile testing centres so that they are able to progress onto other jobs within the health sector. The collaboration has resulted in ‘Gateway to Health and Social Care’, a new skills course built around the specific needs of Covid-19 testing staff and delivered through online workshops.

People taking the course are able to build their own portfolio to demonstrate their skills to potential employers or act as a stepping stone towards other qualifications. The course is being funded by the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) with money provided by the Scottish Government under the National Transition Training Fund. 

James Dunphy, SFC’s Director of Access, Learning and Outcomes, said: “This is a fantastic initiative and a great example of a college working in partnership to create a course that responds to the real needs of people and communities.

“As West Lothian College has shown, colleges are well positioned to help deliver the skills priorities of the National Transition Training Fund (NTTF).  SFC has recently announced further NTTF funding for colleges across Scotland, ensuring they continue to meet the changing skills needs of people, businesses and our communities as we look ahead.” 

Jackie Galbraith, Principal of West Lothian College, said: “Developing a highly skilled, resilient workforce is our core purpose at West Lothian College. We achieve that through inspiring and enabling people to take advantage of the wide range of learning opportunities available from the college. The course developed in partnership with the Scottish Ambulance Service is a great example of that.

“We are seeing growing demand for short, sharp training courses specific to economic sectors that help people secure employment opportunities they might not otherwise have access to. The NTTF enables colleges to meet that demand and customise training to industry need.”

John Alexander, General Manager at the Scottish Ambulance Service's Mobile Testing Units, says: “We’ve seen first-hand the dedication and commitment of our staff who work at our Mobile Testing Units, and the contribution they’ve made to public health in Scotland.  

“While they may have worked in very different roles before the pandemic, our collaboration with West Lothian College is set to equip them with further skills to develop their careers in health care. The new skills course will provide a pathway towards receiving a formal qualification following the practical skills they have developed in their roles.”