Unemployed for 10 months, the former builder was looking for a way to break into his dream career in the sports and fitness industry.
"I was always interested in working in sport but it never worked out for me," he says.
He learned about SkillsActive's Future Jobs Fund opportunity with CACT through the Job Centre and applied.
The Future Jobs Fund, which has now closed, is a government programme that provided £1bn to help create 150,000 jobs for 18 - 24 year old people that had been out of work for nearly a year. Dean, 28, was accepted into the programme because of his length of unemployment. He says he was nervous on hearing he would be mentoring and taking football workshops with youths at HMYOI Cookham Wood, "but it's actually very rewarding work".
"I work with a programme coordinator to shift the boys' focus from crime to football and help them see all the other possibilities available to them in life," he says. "The boys are at a very impressionable age and, if even a handful of them listen to us, we've achieved something."
Dean has proved such an asset to CACT, he's been offered a full time position. Finally, he feels he's on the right career path: "In 10 years time I hope I'll be coaching football and teaching nutrition. This opportunity has been a godsend and I plan to make the most of it."
FJF 'a smart business move'
Employment and skills manager Elly Virgo says the seven Future Jobs Fund employees are helping the charity to deliver its award-winning football coaching programmes to disadvantaged communities in Bexley, Greenwich and Kent.
"We always have plenty of demand for our programmes so we need the staff to deliver them," Elly says. "The Future Jobs Fund programme was a smart business move for us because the funding allowed us to create these positions earlier than we would have without. It also meant we could give somebody who might not have come to our attention through the normal recruitment process, like Dean, a chance to prove themselves worthy of a job."
Working around learning disabilities
CACT were looking for outgoing, capable, confident employees. Learning disabilities were not a barrier.
"We actually took on three people with mild to complex learning needs," Elly says. "NSA put us in touch with Remploy who supported the young people with additional training. We found ways to take advantage of their strengths and work around their difficulties. The most important thing is they had a good personality because that's something you can't teach."
Five of the Future Jobs Fund employees work as coaches, delivering CACTs programmes in schools, estates and prisons.
"They facilitate and referee matches and provide a point of contact for people on our estates programme," Elly says. "They also coach people from the age of three, right up to working on our older person's project for the over-65's."
Two work behind the scenes in administration, providing customer service and technical support for the programmes.
Tailoring training programmes
All CACT Future Jobs Fund employees are trained in health and safety and first aid, and CACT tailors the rest of the training programme to suit the individual. Administration staff are trained in software packages and business administration. Most of the trainee coaches gain level 1 training. CACT offered to pay for level 2 training for Dean, who achieved his level 1 training prior to joining the programme.
Elly says while most of the employees had been outstanding, some initially required extra support: "One guy was just out of practice at getting up on time for work, so we started with basic employability skills for him."
Elly says most of the Future Jobs Fund employees will be offered permanent employment at CACT at the end of their six month contract. CACT will provide interview training skills to the others to help them get work elsewhere. Dean is one of those definitely staying on.
"I couldn't believe he was unemployed when he came to us," Elly says. "He's an absolutely outstanding coach and we were lucky to find him through the Future Jobs Fund."
Mark says the leisure industry has a steady turnover rate so keeping quality staff is critical. He is committed to the training and development of SCL workforce, with special emphasis on staff recruitment and retention at its seven facilities.
"We have a development plan for everybody at SCL from me down, which is reviewed twice yearly," he says. "It combines training for job specific skills with future development potential. So even if a person doesn't want to progress beyond their current job, they've got the training to stay motivated and energised and improve the way they carry it out."
SCL works with SkillsActive to supply staff with a "menu of relevant, meaningful training" up to NVQ level 4.
"SkillsActive provides a single point of contact for our training needs and requirements. The most junior person benefitting from brokered training is a greeter and the most senior is a centre manager."
Apprenticeships provide the work-ready people we need
Mark says the active leisure industry needs commonsense people with strong intrapersonal skills and practical skills. He believes in career progression through vocational training and is also a firm advocate of apprenticeships.
"Apprenticeships allow people who are more practically focussed to gain the appropriate qualifications to work in our sector. And with the government cut back on spending, and University caps, apprenticeships are more relevant now than ever before."
SCL has provided about six people with apprenticeships in the past year, mainly in leisure attendance and recreation assistant roles.
"In the past we've experienced considerable turnover because people find their way to us by accident as opposed to actually wanting to be involved in the industry. We want people to come to us because they've chosen it as a career, and apprenticeships, which are designed by SkillsActive, are a good way for us to achieve this."
Investing in tomorrow's workforce today
To ensure it has a workforce with the right skills to meet anticipated future growth, the company signed up for the Future Jobs Fund Programme.
The Future Jobs Fund programme, delivered by SkillsActive’s National Skills Academy, provided 5000 young unemployed people with six months training and work experience in the sport and active leisure sector. It was funded by the government and supported by 175 employer partners nationwide.
"They proved very useful to us, and we felt as though we were providing them with meaningful work experience. This gave us the confidence to take on more people."
Activepassport gives employers confidence
By working with SkillsActive's network of recognised training providers, Mark ensures his staff access quality training. But verifying the training completed by prospective staff can be difficult. For this reason, Mark volunteered Sencio to be one of the first companies to trial the activepassport system.
Activepassport is a secure online record of an individual's skills, qualifications and training, which is independently verified. Fourteen staff at Sencio populated their activepassport as part of the trial in mid-2010, and Mark says the system has a lot of potential.
"As an individual, it helps you keep an accurate record of your training and skills. As an employer; it gives you confidence that any prospective candidate has in fact undertaken the quality leisure specific training they claim."
"I would like to see everybody involved in the sector have an activepassport to follow them throughout their career."
The 18-year-old is an apprentice at Goldhill Adventure Playground in Leicester, and his supervisor is none other than his grandmother, senior playwork instructor Dee Dixon.
"We get on really well and she treats me exactly the same as the other workers," Josh says. "She encourages me to do well but if I get told off, it's that much more embarrassing because we're family."
Josh, who used to work part time at Goldhill Adventure Playground, always wanted to work in sports. He decided to leave school at 16 when he learned he could fast track his career by taking up an apprenticeship at the workplace he'd come to know and love.
"I'm a practical minded person and I was getting bored at school," he says.
Josh met with Leicester College NVQ trainer assessor Charlotte Coulson, who recommended he undertake the apprenticeship in activity leadership as it most closely matched his responsibilities at the playground.
An average day for Josh involves arriving at the playground at 2.30pm and setting up the site and equipment for sport activities. He will then lead anywhere between 40 and 50 children in a range of sports until 6pm. During holidays, he helps provide full day care for anywhere up to 250 children.
"Every day is different," he says. "Unlike at school, here the children get to play whatever sport they want so I've got to be ready and willing to instruct in a range of sports."
As well as gaining valuable work experience, Josh has achieved recognised qualifications including FA Level 2 football coaching badge and his first aid certificate. He put the latter to use at an 11 aside football tournament.
"Two lads banged heads during a game, which left one with a cut eyebrow," he says. "I kept him calm, bandaged his wound and made sure he went to hospital incase it was something more serious."
Resurrecting and coaching Goldhill Adventure Playground's 11 aside football team is one of Josh's proudest achievements: "They've now made the league and are doing really well."
After finishing his apprenticeship in activity leadership, Josh began an advanced apprenticeship in sports development. He is now working with the newly reopened Southfields sports centre to promote its activities and services and lead football sessions.
"I'm learning great skills, working flexible hours and earning money. It's great."
Josh reckons he's matured a lot during his apprenticeship - he's more confident, responsible and sure about his future path: "When my apprenticeship finishes next August, I want to start a University foundation learning course. Ultimately, I want to combine my interests in sports and working with young people and be a PE teacher."
Charlotte has no doubt Josh will achieve his dreams: "He's an excellent student, he loves sports and he's willing to put the work in. He has all the qualities to be a great teacher."
SkillsActive, the sector skills council for sport and active leisure, has designed the apprenticeship frameworks to help businesses train employees to a high level of competency and performance.
There are four types of apprenticeships available in the active learning, learning and wellbeing sector. They provide a mix of practical and technical skills that allow development at work and progression to further education.
To find out more about Apprenticeships in the sport and active leisure sector please see Apprenticeships
ELA promotes lacrosse in schools and communities and provides training, support and advice to clubs and players. English Lacrosse Association (ELA) membership soared in 2010 and national education manager Paul Coups says this number is projected to reach 25,000 by 2012.
To help manage this increase, a SkillsActive account manager helped the ELA produce a national action plan, then began brokering funding and solutions for them. SkillsActive is funded by Sport England to support national governing bodies of sport to deliver the workforce development commitments in their current plans.
Growing the workforce
SkillsActive recommended ELA sign up for the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure’s Future Jobs Fund programme (which has now closed) to provide the extra workforce ELA needed to grow the sport and sustain participation. ELA took on three FJF employees in the first funding wave. It was so impressed by the quality of employees, it agreed to take on another 35, with £228,000 provided by the government in wage subsidies.
Upskilling the workforce
A Business Link review identified a lack of level 2 and higher level coaching skills, which are necessary to develop new and existing lacrosse volunteers in England. So ELA, in conjunction with SkillsActive and City and Guilds, developed nationally recognised qualifications at NVQ levels 2 and 3 in coaching, teaching and instructing lacrosse for students and volunteer workers.
SkillsActive helped broker £12,000 from Train to Gain funding, an English Government initiative, to train 12 paid coaches and volunteers to the new NVQ level 2 coaching certificate. SkillsActive also helped ELA successfully apply for £26,000 from the Academy’s Coaching Investment Programme funding, which provides coaches with bursaries to help them develop their skills, and £3000 in local bursaries in the North West, East and Greater Manchester.
Finally, SkillsActive recommended ELA sign up for the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting excellence (AASE), a unique sporting qualification for young people with the potential to achieve in their sport at the highest level. Dian worked with ELA to develop an AASE portfolio. SkillsActive also formed relationships between ELA and local colleges, securing about £117,000 from the Skills Funding Agency towards training costs.
A relationship with impact
In 12 months, SkillsActive helped secure £482,000 in training and other initiatives for ELA. ELA national education manager Paul Coups says SkillsActive has been “an exceedingly good business partner”.
“We’ve worked on some phenomenal projects with SkillsActive in the past year and without their support, we would not have got this far. The next 12 months should be equally as fruitful as we capitalise on our successful hosting of the World Lacrosse Championships and work with SkillsActive to grow the sport domestically and internationally.”