We are delighted to have been awarded a grant to prepare nurses from Hong Kong who have recently arrived in the UK for the OET Nursing English language test.
The grant is from the West Midlands Strategic Migration Partnership who run the regional Welcome Hub for Hong Kong BN(O) citizens. There are 12 hubs across the UK, set up as part of a new immigration route opened on 31 January 2021 to provide Hong Kong British National (Overseas) “(BN(O))” status holders and their dependants with the opportunity to come to the UK to live, study and work, on a pathway to citizenship.
This new route reflects the UK’s historic and moral commitment to those people of Hong Kong who chose to retain their ties to the UK by taking up BN(O) status at the point of Hong Kong’s handover to China in 1997. Each Welcome Hub helps BN(O) status holders access housing, work and educational support to ensure they are able to quickly integrate and contribute to their newfound communities.
An important part of the project is to provide targeted English language support. The Hong Kong BN(O) community includes many qualified healthcare workers who would be hugely welcome in the NHS currently suffering from severe staff shortages. There are now almost 40,000 nurse and over 8,000 doctor vacancies across the UK.
To register to work in the UK, overseas-qualified healthcare workers need to achieve a required score in the English tests stipulated by the relevant regulator. For nurses, this is most commonly a grade B in the OET Nursing test, demonstrating an advanced level in the language of healthcare and nursing-specific English. OET Nursing is used by regulators around the world, including the US, Australia, Canada and Ireland in addition to the UK.
The course for the Hong Kong nurses is taking place online, allowing a geographically dispersed group of students to work with an expert OET preparation teacher on a schedule that suits them. The course is based on the programmes we run successfully for NHS Trusts around the country and includes bespoke materials, personalised learning plans, mock tests, and Reach OET B Nursing, our 100-hour preparation course used by schools and professionals around the world.
This course for BN(O) nurses extends the work we already do with refugee and migrant communities across the UK, from ESOL for Syrian refugees in Northern Ireland, to OET Medicine preparation for groups of refugee doctors, to IELTS preparation programmes in the East of England. There is such a wealth of talent in these communities. To nurture the language skills needed for that talent to flourish is a critical part of what we do at SLC. The reach and scale required to run these programmes is also a key reason why we both teach online and develop online study materials.
We have seen the impact this kind of course has, and the lasting difference it can make to the lives of learners and their families. We’re looking forward very much to working with the team at the West Midlands SMP to help the Hong Kong nurses achieve the OET Nursing scores they need to work in the UK.