Dispute over location of public health school
Tórshavn has a shortage of qualified staff members in elderly care, and this problem will only get worse in the future. More people would apply to study within healthcare if the Public Health School was located in the central region rather than in Suðuroy.
This is the view of Bergun Kass, Tórshavn City Councillor, who has called on the Ministry of Culture to reassess the Public Health School in Suðuroy.
The principal of the Public Health School, Jórun Petersen, says the school receives many applications and accepts as many students as it can. She adds that the school is functioning well and that its location provides a good environment for learning and development.
In 2017, 51 people applied for the health visitor course, and 34 were accepted. In 2018, 44 applied and 38 were accepted. The health assistant course received 36 applications in 2017 and only 18 were accepted. In 2018, 25 health assistant course applications were received and 18 were accepted.
The number of work experience places determines how many students the Public Health School can take in, says Petersen, because they cannot accept applicants who do not have opportunity to do vocational training.
“This lack of work experience places would still be a problem if the school was located in Tórshavn,” she adds.
Figures which Tórshavn City Council has obtained from the Public Health School reveal that the period 2006-2015 showed a relatively higher uptake of Suðuroy locals at the school, compared with applicants from elsewhere in the country.
Over this period, 96 people from Suðuroy graduated as health visitors, compared with 57 for the Suðurstreymur region, 52 for Norðurstreymoy, 88 for Eysturoy and 55 for Norðoyggjar.
However, school principal Jórun Petersen is keen to add that the average student age is just above 30, and many of them have children. She does not believe the school is losing out on a group of young parents because of its location in Suðuroy.
A survey from 2017 showed that the Public Health School had the highest student satisfaction ratings in the entire country.
Petersen adds that students do not spend all their time in Suðuroy. The 22 months of the course consist of two and three 11-14-week school modules. The rest of the time is often spent in the central region where most of the work experience places are.
Tórshavn City Councillor Bergun Kass still insists that reconsidering the location of the school could help solve the shortage of educated workers in Tórshavn’s elderly care.
“There will be 30% more people aged 80 or over ten years from now, and that’s why we need to boost the number of workers who are qualified to take care of these people,” she says.
“I would like to call on the Ministry of Culture to reassess the school in Suðuroy to see if the investment has benefited the country in the best way possible.”