Skip to main content

06 Dec 2021

Careers in care

New careers in care for Scottish Ambulance Service employees

SSSC’s Learning and Development Adviser, Kerry Cannon recently spoke with Sarah Allison, Learning and Skills Manager at West Lothian College, who told us about a new initiative designed to help mobile testing unit operatives start new careers in health and social care.

Job vacancies in social services bring opportunities for people who are looking for a new career and employers are keen to recruit people with strong values and transferrable skills.

West Lothian College recently teamed up with the Scottish Ambulance Service to look at retraining workers employed in COVID-19 mobile testing centres to enable them to progress in employment within the health and social care sector. This collaboration has resulted in ‘Gateway to Health and Social Care’, a new course built around the specific needs of COVID-19 testing staff and delivered through online workshops.

People undertaking the programme can build their own portfolio to demonstrate their skills to potential employers or use is as a steppingstone towards other qualifications. The college currently delivers SVQ courses in social services and health care and matched the SCQF level and units to the operative’s role to showcase key skills such as communication, safeguarding, and health and safety practices including infection control.

About the course

West Lothian College (image)

The course is delivered through online workshops and workplace observation. The evidence demonstrating these skills is mapped over two units from the SVQ Social Services and Healthcare SVQ at SCQF Level 6, along with the ICT Core Skill Unit. The submission of high-quality evidence for the SVQ units and input with employability skills provides an opportunity to step into a career in health and social care and progress on to the full SVQ award to secure a registerable qualification with the Scottish Social Services Council.

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 National Transition Training Fund 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, said:

‘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 care. The new skills course will provide a pathway towards receiving a formal qualification following the practical skills they have developed in their roles.’

This course highlights the importance of strong partnership working between the college and employers. The college values employer input into course development and encourages employers to get in touch to discuss current and future workforce requirements. Employers can contact West Lothian College at

Contact information

Sandra Wilson
Communications Officer
Scottish Social Services Council