Well, put simply, I want our students to have as many employment opportunities as possible.
In these austere times, I have noticed a substantial drop-off in opportunities for our students, both during their studies and after they’ve graduated. Public sector services are being continuously squeezed, and the announced £200 million public health budget cut, will no doubt make the squeeze even tighter.
The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) has projected a 30% decrease in the average service budget for 2014-15, on top of numerous swingeing cuts. Already there has been an 11% staff reduction (of both Environmental Health Practitioners and Technical Staff) with more job losses planned.
In my profession as an Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP), we are taught at an early stage that ‘prevention is better than cure’, and I feel that we will pay later for what we don’t prevent now. I am of the opinion that the current situation in the sector could land us all back in an era we thought we had cleared in public health.
Our professional motto translates as ‘friends of the human race’ – right now, the human race is faced by lots of major issues and has never needed to rediscover friendship more, in my opinion.
So, how do we reconcile this especially when our work load is not reducing?
The new breed of EHPs are going to face a gargantuan task to redress the situation. As both a chartered body and an academic institution, it’s our responsibility to make the profession attractive to the next generation of EHPs and prepare them as best we can to ultimately reverse the picture that I have painted.
I want to help the next wave of EHPs get started on a fantastic and challenging career journey. I want to provide opportunities that are readily available for students, and opportunities that will prepare them for future practice.
Which is why I am spearheading the solution – to introduce our current environmental health students into the profession by establishing a consultancy that is for the students and led by the students. My academic EHP colleagues will supervise and assist where necessary, and our students will be paid and supported at all stages.
I envisage that the consultancy will provide students with realistic opportunities in the changing face of the work environment e.g. an increase in short-term projects and temporary contracts. In turn, potential employers will have quick and easy access to a growing number of talented student EHPs who are keen to develop their skills in the real world.
This should reduce the ‘no job without experience’ catch 22 that some of our recent graduates have been faced with.
I am genuinely excited about the launch of our own EHCS. The service will provide a central focal point for our students to gain essential skills, allowing them to develop into competent and experienced future EHPs.
I am keen for this venture to work as I am of the opinion that this approach will allow the students more flexibility and ease to control their destinies as future EHPs.
I welcome any comments or enquiries regarding this blog or the EHCS. Please contact Mark Hodgson at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0113 812 3851
For further information about the EHCS go to http://www.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/business-consultancy/health-sciences/environmental-health-consultancy/.
These are my views and do not necessarily reflect the views of Leeds Beckett University.