Thousands of nurse training places and probation officer jobs will be created as part of a new government recruitment drive for the public sector.
The Ministry of Justice is hiring 1,000 new probation officers just months after it was announced the service would be brought back under government control after a disastrous spell of part-privatisation.
The Department for Education has also approved over 3,000 additional university positions to study nursing after record vacancy levels were recorded in 2019.
The public sector jobs boost, after years of cutbacks under austerity, comes ahead of the publication on Thursday of government statistics on police and teacher recruitment. Last year Boris Johnson promised to recruit 20,000 new officers in England and Wales after years of declining officer numbers.
“We have seen more clearly than ever the heroic efforts of our public workers during this pandemic,” said Johnson.
“The fantastic teachers, police officers and NHS workers truly are the pride of the nation and embody the spirit of public duty that every one of us can aspire towards.”
A total of 5,611 places for healthcare courses have also been allocated at universities in England to support the NHS, with 3,803 of these additional places going to nursing training.
There will be 2,827 places on adult nursing courses, 332 for children’s nursing and the rest spread between mental health and learning disability nursing.
In 2019 there were 44,000 nursing vacancies across the NHS – around 12% of the nursing workforce – with the service highly reliant on non-EU staff after Brexit.
There are currently 800 new probation officers already in training, with the commitment to hire 1,000 more in 2020, increasing the workforce by 29 %. The recruitment aims to reduce officer caseloads to more manageable levels.
The government said it also wanted to introduce more wellbeing schemes to give emotional support to frontline staff with professional counselling and buddy programmes.
Between March 2010 and March 2018, police forces numbers in England and Wales dropped by 15 %, loosing around 21,732 officers. The drive to recruit 20,000 is over a three-year period.
Mike Adams, Royal College of Nursing Director for England, said: “When there are tens of thousands of unfilled nursing jobs, we expect to see greater ambition from government – that includes supporting would-be nurses with their fees and maintenance costs.
“These kind of announcements, on their own, are not enough. By the time they finish their education, these students will be left in debt which, for many, will never be paid off.”