Published: 01/12/2005 Volume 115 No. 5984 Page 27

I am a senior manager in a workforce development department of a strategic health authority. My role focuses on the quality monitoring of education contracts. I am wondering where my experience could best be used in the new configuration, and where the safest places to look for jobs would be.

Katy Gordon writes

Workforce development is becoming increasingly important with the changes that are occurring and the uncertainty they bring. At present, the only way to see where the safest jobs could be - or where your experiences could be best used - is to gaze into a crystal ball.

However, with change comes opportunities and this should not be forgotten. It is too easy to get caught up in worrying about what might or might not happen in the future.

The best thing that anyone can do in this environment is to make sure you have an up-to-date skills inventory and know what your core and transferable skills are.

Hand in hand with this, explore your three preferred options for potential jobs. These alone should keep you ahead of the game when opportunities present themselves.

What else can you do? Study the HSJ jobs pages every week, keep your ear to the ground locally for potential jobs falling out of the proposed restructuring, and keep your profile raised with people in key strategic jobs.

Be proactive in sending your CV to potential employers and use your own wider networks to let you know of possible jobs coming up.

Ask yourself where the focus of your current role could be used in monitoring quality of education in the future. Is there a niche, for instance, for linking education around the Skills for Health framework with assessing and monitoring practical competencies? How could you use your mentor to help with this or any other lines of enquiry for potential jobs?

The other crucial issue to remember, especially in times of extensive change, is to look after yourself. If you are feeling good about yourself, others will recognise it. This can only work positively for you. So pamper yourself and do what it takes to grow that positive feeling and enthusiasm for all that life brings you. If you need some help with this, now would be a good time to get yourself a personal coach to help you make the most of your potential.

Sally Gorham writes

Whatever changes the NHS is currently going through, there is still going to be an important role in commissioning education. You may find yourself working in another organisation, but doing very much the same role.

However, at periods of organisational change it is a good time to consider what other opportunities there are. Two simple exercises are a good way to get started.

First, draw up a list of your skills and competencies and discuss them with a friend - they may see skills that you are ignoring. Then start collecting adverts for jobs that attract you.

At this stage, do not restrict yourself - keep an open mind. Once you have 10-20 of these, sit down and look at them alongside your list of skills and competencies. You will probably find there are jobs in your cuttings that you would never have previously considered, but which you find attractive and have the competencies and skills to do. The next step is convincing others.

Bryan Carpenter writes

It is clear that the reconfiguration of strategic health authorities will radically affect workforce development directorates. In some, they are already looking at streamlining the funding processes by contracting for education and training directly with universities.

This will mean that there will be much closer links between the health and education sectors. And this will increase career opportunities for those who work in the education and workforce sector of the NHS. It might mean, of course, leaving health for education.

Fewer - but certainly larger - SHAs will also mean there will be other career options for someone at your level with your experience, although your role at the moment appears to be rather narrow. This might be an opportunity for you to work in a wider, more general senior management role, which will further increase your future career options.

Our panel

Bryan Carpenter is human resources director of Bournemouth and Christchurch trust.

Kate Gordon is an independent nurse consultant and qualified life coach.

Sally Gorham is chief executive of Waltham Forest primary care trust.

Hazel Henderson is Choosing Health lead for Wandsworth PCT and Smokefree NHS project manager for South West London strategic health authority.

Jenny Rogers is an executive coach and director of Management Futures.

Jan Sobieraj is chief executive of Barnsley Hospital foundation trust.

To read more detailed advice from our Career MOT panel, visit www.goodmanagement-hsj. co/ careermot. To submit your own career issues, e-mail hsjworkinglives @emap. com. Published entries will receive a copy of our Leadership at every level toolkit.