Our National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure works with the best training providers in our sector to deliver cost-effective, quality assured training solutions.
We have a proven track record of successfully managing government funded training programmes and finding easily accessible and cost effective training for businesses and individuals to succeed. Now working as part of SkillsActive, the Skills Academy continues to deliver a number of key projects in England to support those working in sport and active leisure.
The Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund, delivered by SkillsActive’s National Skills Academy, provides London volunteers with up to 75% off training to deliver a sporting legacy from the 2012 Games.
The Yorkshire and Humber Coaching Bursary, delivered by SkillsActive’s National Skills Academy, provides 60% off UKCC coaching qualifications for new and existing coaches. It is funded by Sport England Yorkshire.
Activegraduates.com is a free job matching website to help employers find talented, work ready candidates from our pool of successful Future Jobs Fund participants.
The National Skills Academy’s network of training providers have been through a rigorous approval process and offer quality assured training.
SkillsActive works on behalf of the active leisure, learning and well-being sector to develop a framework of qualifications, training and continuous professional that meet employer needs, ensuring the workforce is properly trained and qualified.
Through our National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure, we deliver those qualifications, ensuring the training is quality assured, cost effective and relevant to employers’ needs.
Leeds Rugby Limited is a Dual Rugby Partnership between the city's main Rugby League and Rugby Union sides - the Leeds Rhinos (Rugby League) and Leeds Carnegie (Rugby Union).
Traditionally, the organisation used St John’s and the Red Cross to provide first aid training for staff until human resources officer Sarah Tate learned about SkillsActives’ cut price training offers.
SkillsActive has partnered with Medical Lifesigns, a top quality Health and Safety training specialist. The partnership provides First Aid training tailored specifically to the sport and active Leisure sector – at great-value discounted rates.
More than 160 qualified and experienced trainers located all over the country provide training to more than 10,000 people every year.
Sarah says: “Keeping employees and customers safe is an important priority for our organisation, especially with so many members of the public attending our matches. We wanted to use a reputable local provider and maximise our training budget.”
Eleven staff from across the Leeds Rugby Limited completed three days of first aid training with Medical Lifesigns at the club’s headquarters. The mix of groundskeepers, cleaners, security, chefs and bar managers learned the basics, including resuscitation techniques and how to dress injuries.
Sarah says: “It was cost effective, saving us about £50 a head. The course organisers met with us before to ensure the course content matched our needs. The training could also be delivered onsite, which was very convenient for us.”
"The Academy offer ticked all the boxes for us. It was cost effective, saving us about £50 a head for the three day First Aid at Work course. The course organisers met with us before to ensure the course content matched our needs. The training could also be delivered onsite, which was very convenient for us."
Meet your individual learner needs
In January 2011, 11 staff from across the Leeds Ruby Limited completed three days of first aid training with Medical Lifesigns at the club's headquarters. The mix of groundskeepers, cleaners, security, chefs and bar managers learned first aid basics, which covered resuscitation techniques and how to dress injuries.
"Some staff had previous experience and some were first timers but Medical Lifesigns catered for all different skill and knowledge levels. The feedback from our staff has been really positive."
Sarah was so impressed by the first aid training, she is now working with the Academy on sourcing leadership and customer service training for Leeds Rugby's staff through the Academy's partners.
"The Academy has provided us with great discounts on a wide range of courses. I would definitely tell other businesses to consider using their services."
Take PGL's Human Resources projects manager Mark Lavington. A science teacher by training, Mark joined the company as a canoe instructor in 1988. He spent the summer of 1988 leading groups of young people down the limestone gorge of Ardeche in Southern France "and never really left".
"I worked seven seasons for PGL, often going back to teaching or travelling in the winter," he says.
PGL saw potential in Mark and he quickly progressed to river leader then manager of a series of centres. When the business centralised its training in 1993, Mark secured a permanent job setting up PGL's training department.
Following further training and support, Mark became training manager and then Human Resources manager before moving into his current role. It's the work, the people and the ethos of PGL that have kept him interested, he says.
"PGL are a good responsible employer and staff development is at the heart of the organisation. It's in our business plan, our vision and our values. I love seeing people grow in confidence and competence as they progress through their career with us."
A good fit for Future Jobs Fund
It's that focus on training which made PGL a good fit for Future Jobs Fund. The government programme, which has now closed, provided £1bn to help create 150,000 jobs for 18 - 24 year old people who had been out of work for nearly a year.
SkillsActive's National Skills Academy for Sport & Active Leisure made successful bids for money and is now overseeing the delivery of 5300 jobs across the sport and active leisure industries.
Mark heard about the scheme and saw an immediate affinity with PGL.
"PGL have a 50 year history of providing young people with competence, confidence and qualifications," he says. "We are well placed to take people at the early stage of their career and give them the support and mentoring required for that first step on the career ladder."
PGL accepted 10 Future Jobs Fund employees for the April 2010 intake and is planning a further 40 people for the 2011 intake.
Learning the ropes
The successful candidates spend 10 days selection and training at PGL's Boreatton Park activity centre, learning anything from archery to abseiling. They are then posted to a regional centre agreed upon during the application process for the rest of their placement. This can be a big upheaval for some young people, Mark says.
"But more often than not they come to us saying it's the best thing they ever did, that they were in rut at home before they stepped into this fantastically supportive environment."
A standard day could involve delivering a morning session on fencing and an afternoon session on orienteering. They start off assisting activity sessions and, when their confidence grows, they are responsible for leading them.
During their six month placement, the first intake of PGL Future Jobs Fund employees will gain an NBG qualification a Level 2 Award in Introductory Work in the Outdoors and a Level 2 Apprenticeship in Activity Leadership.
"We stack them up with accredited training so that whether people stay with us or move on they all come out with transferrable skills," Mark says.
Serendipitously, the first intake coincided with PGL's busiest time of year - the summer holidays.
"It's always handy having an extra pair of hands. Though these are extra staff there is plenty of work to do."
Take the leap
PGL's staff are genuinely impressed by the attitude and skill set of the Future Jobs Fund employees.
"They're enthusiastic, highly productive workers who we might not have accessed if FJF hadn't put the opportunity in front of them," Mark says. "Future Jobs Fund put us on their radar."
His advice to employers considering joining Future Jobs Fund is: go for it.
"Talk to the Academy, even if you think you might not quite fit the criteria, because there are people who can help smooth the way. Future Jobs Fund is another way of finding great workers who wouldn't necessarily have found you."
At the end of their six month placement, almost everyone on the PGL Future Jobs Fund programme will be offered seasonal employment at one of PGL's activity centres in the United Kingdom, France or Spain. Others will use the skills and qualifications gained during their time with PGL to secure paid work elsewhere.
"I'd love to look up in three or four years and see someone who came to us through Future Jobs Fund managing one of our centres," Mark says.
"Given the focus we put on staff development, and the enthusiasm shown by the current crop of Future Jobs Fund employees, that would be glorious and entirely achievable."
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."