HEIW’s Careersville: “I hope it will raise awareness of the variety of careers within eye care”

OT  heard from Health Education and Improvement Wales about a new platform to inform students of the variety of careers available in the health and care fields, including eye care

Animated map
Health Education and Improvement Wales

Students in Wales interested in a career within healthcare now have the opportunity to gain an insight into the wide variety of fields and roles available to them with the introduction of ‘Careersville.’ 

The new platform provides an overview of the different careers available in health and care – each presented in their own ‘buildings’ in a virtual village.

Through the platform, students can learn more about specific roles within different health and care sectors, and hear from professionals in those fields through blogs and vlogs. With eye care recently added to the platform, OT heard more about the service and the benefits of the new approach from Dr Nik Sheen, eye care transformation lead at Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW), Laura Heylin, optometrist and training and education regional teacher, and Rubecca Williams, future workforce advisor for HEIW.

Careersville eye care lobby
Health Education and Improvement Wales
Presented in a digital village, the eye care ‘building’ on the Careersville platform has information on roles as an optometrist, contact lens optician and dispensing optician, or orthoptist

What is Careersville? Could you tell us about the decision to incorporate eye care into Careersville? How does it fit into the broader NHS careers portal?

Rubecca Williams (RW): In October 2021, Health Education Improvement Wales (HEIW) launched a fully bilingual careers platform, Careersville, known as Tregyrfa in Welsh.

Based on the concept of a digital village, the exciting digital platform was launched to showcase careers in health and care. The platform initially launched to young people aged 14–16 with an event featuring keynote talks and live Q&A sessions held within the platform’s cinema.

At launch, Careersville included six profession ‘buildings ‘(including: allied health professionals, healthcare science, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, social care and childcare) the platform continues to grow, welcoming dental in July, and most recently the eye care building in September, following them being identified as part of strategic plans.

The eye care building (as with other profession buildings) features a foyer area which gives an overview of the different careers in eye care. This includes a welcome video on the ‘CareersTube’ TV, an introduction on the computer screen and a useful infographic.

Once users are ready to discover more about the different roles available, they can enter the ‘lift’ and select one of the three floors to visit: 1. optometry, 2. contact lens optician/dispensing optician or 3. orthoptist. Featuring information such as the key skills and qualifications required, along with providing a taster of what it is like to work and/or study through blogs and vlogs, users can gain a range of information to help them when thinking about their future career.

In addition to the profession buildings and cinema, the platform is also complimented by resources in the Skills Library, supporting users with their personal development such as preparing for an interview, along with the library’s Y Gornel Gymraeg, which highlights the value of using the Welsh language in health and care.

Through attendance at careers fairs such as SkillsCymru, engagement with stakeholders such as the Department for Work and Pensions, and carrying out a range of communications including promoting the platform through social media, the profile of the platform has grown.

In addition to young people aged 14–16, the audience has now extended to include sixth form and college students, teachers and college lecturers, parents and carers, careers advisors and colleagues supporting with careers in health boards and trusts in NHS Wales. With plans to expand the platform further, the aspiration is to ultimately grow Careersville and Tregyrfa to become an all-age careers platform.

Health Education and Improvement Wales
The platform is fully bilingual and known as Tregyrfa in Welsh

What went into designing the eye care building in the Careersville platform? How long a process was this?

RW and Laura Heylin (LH): Discussions initially began between the Optometry and Future Workforce teams in HEIW in Autumn 2021, following the launch of the platform. It was clear that an eye care building would be a great fit for Careersville and so the collecting of resources began.

The first half of 2022 was concentrated on contacting eye care professionals in Wales for blogs, video interviews and careers profiles to display within the building. Everyone was very helpful and did an amazing job, and we are very grateful to all those who have contributed.

Over the last few months leading up to the launch, colleagues in HEIW’s Future Workforce and Digital teams worked together to develop the new eye care building. This involved the redesign of the village map to feature the new building (with a dark blue roof), the creation of the building itself and setting up the various floors and features such as the ‘CareersTube’ TV’s and also uploading the building’s content.

Also involved in the development were colleagues in the communications and translation teams, who ensured that resources were accessible through the addition of translations and subtitles on video content.

The building was launched in National Eye Health Week, and it will continue to be updated over the coming months and years.

It’s really important that careers in eye care are promoted equally amongst other areas of health and social care so that school pupils are aware of all career opportunities available

Laura Heylin
What do you hope the site will mean for pupils and schools?

LH: When I was a sixth form student considering a career in healthcare (13 years ago now), I found that my school could provide me with lots of information on applying for medicine, but other areas of healthcare were much less promoted. I was introduced to optometry through a family friend, but my teachers and careers adviser knew very little about it. It’s really important that careers in eye care are promoted equally amongst other areas of health and social care so that school pupils are aware of all career opportunities available. It is essential that this information is easily accessible and engaging, something that Careersville does very well.

Within each building, users are able to explore the different roles and find out about the pathways they can take to access their dream career. The buildings are filled with useful videos, information, ‘a day in the life’ blogs, trainee interviews and more. I really hope the launch will help inform and inspire the future generation of eye care professionals. I hope it will raise awareness of the variety of careers within eye care and that different options are available depending on how much you would like to study, whether considering university or going straight into employment.

Why is this tool important for highlighting eye care as a career path?

LH: It is essential because it presents all the different career opportunities within eye care in one accessible place. I’ve lost count of how many times over the years I’ve been asked what the difference is between an optometrist, ophthalmologist and optician. Hopefully this will help to provide some clarification.

By informing and hopefully creating excitement amongst young people about the possibilities of a career in eye care, we hope they will be inspired to pursue such a career

Laura Heylin
Does this help to address any needs or challenges in the eye care profession in Wales?

Dr Nik Sheen: There are challenges recruiting in some areas of Wales, particularly in rural or geographically isolated regions. We want to grow a local workforce and by informing and hopefully creating excitement amongst young people about the possibilities of a career in eye care, we hope they will be inspired to pursue such a career. We know that eye care professionals often move back closer to home once qualified and take jobs in those hard to recruit areas.

How does this fit into work to inform young people about careers in eye care?

RW: Showcasing Careersville (and Tregyrfa) at events such as SkillsCymru using rolling visuals and platform animations has provided a great opportunity when talking to young people about careers, in addition to referencing the ability to find out about careers in eye care on the platform. Most recently at the SkillsCymru event the NHS Wales stand also featured representation from Optometry Wales who helped to engage attendees with activities, which tied in well with linking young people and those supporting them to Careersville/Tregyrfa.