The Healthy Lifestyle Activities Provider has been training apprentices for the company and its sector partners since late 2009, providing young people with an important entry route into the sport and active leisure industry. Currently, 15% of Fit for Sport’s 70 permanent staff train through Apprenticeships. By 2013, training manager Jack Shakespeare expects that figure to reach 50 per cent.
“Apprenticeships are, in our experience, the most successful way to recruit, develop and retain effective employees,” Jack says. “The training ensures apprentices are competent and engage in living our vision and values. They are core to our future growth and that of our partners.”
Apprentices gain relevant qualifications while they earn
Fit for Sport’s Level 2 NVQ apprenticeship in activity leadership takes learners one year to complete and includes a salary of between £5000 to £14000 depending on age, hours of work and responsibilities. Fit for Sport looks for six key values in any potential employee. They need to be: trustworthy, professional, enthusiastic, fun, a good role model and lead a healthy lifestyle.
“Our staff are our product,” Jack says. “We can motivate them and provide them with the right practical skills but they have to demonstrate those other qualities from the outset.”
Working with SkillsActive, which designs the apprenticeship frameworks, Fit for Sport tailored the framework to ensure the learning matched the practical skills they needed in the workplace. Fit for Sport apprentices gain a level 2 in activity leadership, which teaches them how to plan, deliver and review engaging, safe and progressive activity sessions for children. They also complete qualifications in behaviour management, child protection, first aid and employability training and, if they need them, key skills.
“Not every employer has the same needs so a flexible apprenticeship framework is important,” Jack says. “Our apprentices are practical minded people so we wanted any theory work to be directly relevant to their role, and SkillsActive helped us with this.”
Building a motivated, loyal workforce
More than 90% of Fit For Sport apprentices secure work with the company or its sector partners such as SLM leisure group. Fit For Sport uses its industry connections to support other apprentices into further education or work with companies specialising in adult activity leadership.
Jack says the combination of learning and working offered by Apprenticeships is priceless.
“Apprenticeships allow Fit For Sport to select the right person and develop them in a way that meets the needs of both the company and the apprentice. We invest 12 months of training and mentoring and we get fully qualified, enthusiastic and work ready employees, each of whom understands our company and our values. It also means we save time and money on recruitment. We are using Apprenticeships to build a well-trained, motivated and loyal workforce which will help us grow and develop our business.”
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 learners to develop at work and progress to further education.
To find out more about Apprenticeships in the sport and active leisure sector please see Apprenticeships
National research commissioned by Central YMCA found that almost one in three people wouldn’t hire a personal trainer with a noticeable physical disability. Furthermore, Aspire, a national charity supporting people with spinal cord injuries, found that non-wheelchair users were more than three times as likely to be invited to interview for job vacancies than wheelchair users.
To help tackle these issues, Aspire has teamed up with YMCAfit on the groundbreaking Instructability project. Supported by a 75% subsidy from the Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund, which is managed by SkillsActive's National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure, the Instructability project provides disabled people with Level 2 fitness instructor training.
Over three weeks, participants learn about subjects such as anatomy and physiology, how to use gym equipment and how to put together a gym programme. Once qualified, they are given support to find placements and employment in the fitness industry.
The Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund aims to increase the number of Londoners working and volunteering in sports ahead of the 2012 Games. Denise Page, Director of YMCAfit, is condident the Instructability approach can help change the culture that may stop disabled people working in the fitness sector.
“We hope that learners will overcome barriers specific to the fitness sector and disability, such as a lack of disabled role models, difficulty accessing training and work venues, and an assessment structure which can be impractical for certain participants.”
Half of the participants on the Instructability pilot in late 2010 are now in employment, working at local leisure centres, helping both disabled and non-disabled people achieve their fitness goals. Tasha Webster, Director of Operations at Aspire, has similarly high hopes for the 30 Londoners who will this year benefit from the Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund subsidy.
“Longer term it is hoped that by employing more disabled fitness instructors in the industry this will increase the number of positive role models and encourage greater participation in physical activity by disabled people, who are significantly less likely to meet the recommended levels of activity for health.”
Street League delivers football and education programmes to 16 - 25 year old NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) groups, offenders and substance users.
“The sole aim of The Academy is to accelerate participants’ progression into sustainable employment, mainstream education & training,” Sally says.
The Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund has provided a 75% subsidy for four academies to be staged across London. Managed by the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure, the Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund provides Londoners with up to 75% off the cost of training in exchange for them volunteering in their local community.
Sally says Street League recruited 59 young people for the first Academy in October through channels such as Job CentrePlus and the probation service. North Londoner Tony Young, 20, was approached about the course after attending the Street Football sessions.
“I was going for about four job interviews a week but not getting anywhere so I thought I’d see what the Academy could do for me,” he says.
Over eight weeks, Tony and the other participants attended workshops in employability, health and nutrition and gained qualifications in community sports leadership, first aid and coaching. They then committed to 20 hours of volunteering their skills in their community.
“The best thing about the course was learning interview techniques and CV writing skills, which I never learned at school,” he says.
After graduating from the course, Tony was offered a coaching apprenticeship at Street League. He now spends his day coaching young people just like him: “I used to have no idea what I wanted to do. Now I’ve got new skills and a new career helping people and giving back to my community.”
An impressive 23 of the 40 who completed the October Academy programme have progressed to further education or sustainable employment, supported by Street League’s progressions staff. Sally is confident the young people who complete the funded Academies in February, June and October 2011 and February 2012 will have similar success.
“The Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund and the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure have helped us expand our structured football and education programme across London and engage a greater number of young unemployed people through the power of football.”
The amount of the adult population who do not participate in sport or active leisure has hovered at around 80% since 2006, according to the Active People Survey.
To help engage and improve residents’ activity levels, Sutton Council has partnered with Sutton and Merton Primary Care Trust to train people in areas of high non-participation to help build participation in their communities. The project is supported by a 75% subsidy from the Mayor’s Sports Legacy Fund, managed by SkillsActive's National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure, and additional funding from Sutton Council.
Programme coordinator Brian Pote-Hunt says recent research carried out by Ottaway Strategic Management ltd found that Sutton residents who had been inactive for a long period of time “don’t feel confident getting into the Lycra scene – they want to do something that’s free with people from their local community”.
“We’ve responded by putting together a ‘community activator’ programme which gives people the skills to run community based activity sessions for small groups of people.”
Participants on the four day Central YMCA course learn how to set up physical activity sessions in their community, gaining their Level 2 Certificate in Fitness Instructing. They are also provided with the all important insurance to run community sport, health and physical sessions in their community.
Brian says 13 people from a diverse range of backgrounds attended the first programme in March 2011, shortlisted from a group of 30: “We had a librarian, journalist, engineer, au pair, unemployed people and people looking to volunteer locally. But the one thing they all had in common was an interest in helping people lead healthier lives.”
Participant Trevor Graham says many of his engineering colleagues at 02 work long hours, and so exercise slips to the bottom of their priority list. Following his training, Trevor now leads 30 minute activity sessions three mornings a week involving a warm up, full body workout and cool down.
“I’m just trying to help them get their recommended 30 minutes of exercise a day. The first few sessions were hard for some of them, but they’re carried on and now I get between five and 15 people turning up to each session. It’s great.”
Brian says other training participants plan to work with mental health groups, children’s centers and domestic violence victims: “If each of our ‘community activators’ worked with a group of 10, then that’s 130 people we’re providing with an opportunity to become fitter and healthier.”
Ashley Peake, 21, studied engineering after he finished school and then worked at his father’s business. But his real passion was for the Outdoors and, in his spare time, Ashley volunteered as a climbing instructor for Blackpool Council. It was there that he learned about the apprenticeship scheme at Derwent Hill Outdoor Education Centre in Keswick.
Ashley says: “I’ve always been into climbing and hill walking so I thought, why not make a career out of it?”
Frameworks and quality training provide the right mix of practical and technical skills
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. Ashley began his one-year apprenticeship with Derwent Hill in August 2010.
SkillsActive put the Derwent Hill Outdoor Education Centre in touch with Kendal College, part of its network of top quality training providers. Kendal College, which was awarded an outstanding grade from OFSTED in 2011, provided Ashley with practical and theory based qualifications, including Level 2 Activity Leadership, L2 Certificate Working in the Outdoors, Level One Certificate in Coaching Paddlesport and Foundation safety and rescue training.
Ashley acknowledges he could have achieved the same qualifications at a Further Education institution, but says that would only have given him “paperwork knowledge” of the industry.
“I wouldn’t have developed the confidence and the communications skills I have from working with groups week in, week out. Apprenticeships are definitely the way to go if you’re a hands-on, practical minded person. They’re great fun, particularly if you work in the Outdoors, and I’d recommend them to anyone.”
Apprenticeships add value to business
Depending on the day, you can now find Ashley, who lives onsite, planning activities and leading groups of young people on high ropes courses, canoe trips, abseiling or mountain walking.
Long term, he hopes to gain the skills to lead groups on mountain climbing trips abroad; Mt Everest is top of his list: “It was a big decision to leave engineering behind because I liked my old job. But my new job – I love it.”
Ashley’s manager, Andy Morris, says Derwent Hill has a long proud history of sourcing quality staff through apprenticeships.
“Ashley and our other apprentice definitely add value to our business. While they’re training, it means an additional competent staff member to help take sessions. When they’re nearing the end of their placement, and are capable of leading sessions, our apprentices save us money by freeing up fulltime staff.
“Ashley picks up physical skills very quickly; he also has the communications skills to be a very good coach. He has a very bright future in the Outdoors.”
To find out more about Apprenticeships in the sport and active leisure sector see Apprenticeships
Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust is a charitable trust set up to manage and operate Doncaster Dome Leisure Complex. Head of Leisure Jon Whiteley says the Trust had always been good at providing staff with mandatory training such as first aid, health and safety and pool plant operation, but it wasn’t as strong on softer skills like management, sales and customer care.
Supporting staff stepping into management
A SkillsActive account manager started working with Trust managers to understand the results of their appraisals, and to source suitable training providers to fulfil their training requirements.
Jon says many staff at the Trust progress to duty management positions through internal promotions, and while this means they have good knowledge of their field, they often lack management skills: “We wanted to support them make the step up from the front line.”
SkillsActive presented the Trust with a number of training options using its recognised training provider network. In September 2010, 16 current or aspiring managers from the leisure, conferencing, catering events and cleaning teams attended Developing Duty Managers training.
Jon says the feedback was extremely positive: “The delivery was really innovative. They learned about effective communication, being assertive, formal and informal feedback mechanisms, and how to motivate staff. I’m certain this has made them better managers.”
FJF employees extend programme reach
SkillsActive also encouraged the Trust to sign up to the Future Jobs Fund programme. The government programme, which has now closed, provided 5000 young unemployed people with jobs in the sport and active leisure sector. In January 2011, the Trust took on three recruits as Assistant Community Engagement Officers.
“This was a really good business decision for us as it provided us with the wages and training grant to take on three new employees to help deliver our community outreach schemes, such as the 50 plus and Play Rangers community activity programmes."
The Trust is also now investigating opportunities to provide funded training to several other eligible staff in customer service, business administration, supervisory development and activity leadership through Apprenticeships.
Making a long term commitment to staff – and the Academy
In April 2011, the Trust will enter an exciting new phase as it extends to manage 10 more local leisure facilities. This means consolidating staff training from 11 different organisations. Jon says the Trust is committed to working with SkillsActive to continue the innovative skills development programme it has started.
Established in 2007, the Football League Trust (FLT) is funded by the Premier League, the Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association to deliver industry leading youth and community development programmes.
Continuing the pioneering work of the national Football in the Community programme, it is the umbrella organisation for 72 community trusts linked to Football League clubs, including 11 in Yorkshire and Humber.
Quality staff training to retain quality staff
The Trust’s Regional Community Manager for Yorkshire & the North East, Angus Martin, says the Trust’s clubs have little trouble recruiting quality staff but with so much competition in the sector, retaining them can be a challenge.
“Staff development is important to all of our clubs but as charities operating in difficult economic times they need to be clever with their money,” Angus says. “That’s why we joined SkillsActive - to source the best training available at the best price.”
Many clubs have undergone huge growth in recent years. But although the Trust has a proud history of investing in coaching development programmes for its front line staff, business development training is less entrenched, Angus says.
A SkillsActive account manager looked over the Trust’s staff appraisals to identify training needs and then presented the Trust with a list of 20 possible courses using two of its recognised provider network. It also secured the Trust a 60% discount by brokering funding from the Skills Funding Agency’s Train to Gain programme, an English Government initiative.
“The funding reduced the training cost for us from £10,000 plus VAT to £4000 plus VAT,” Angus says.
“We decided to put 20 senior managers, representing each club, on five full days of continual professional development through ISPAL. They learned about outcomes based planning, developing effective partnerships, charitable leisure training, managing discipline, grievance and dismissal, and finance for the non-financial manager. Without the funding, the training would not have been feasible for us.”
Trust staff learn skills to deal with challenging behaviour
The Trust’s staff often deliver programmes in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and so need the skills to deal with challenging behaviour, but it had difficulty sourcing conflict management training at an affordable price.
“SkillsActive sourced two different local providers for us and we sent nine staff on Complete Assessment & Training Solutions’ course. They now feel more confident delivering the activities and, if something happens, they understand the right course of action to take.”
Angus encourages other employers to work with SkillsActive on training solutions.
“SkillsActive sources cost effective solutions to our training needs and uses their knowledge of and access to funding steams to offset costs. Our relationship with SkillsActive has certainly proved beneficial to us.”
Activity Sheffield deliver a variety of sport, play and activity sessions across the city, with the goal of leading the city to a more active, healthy and sporting future.
Richard says, traditionally, Activity Sheffield recorded staff training on paper. Details were entered into a spreadsheet programme and manually updated once a year as part of an individual's performance appraisal.
"We wanted a more modern way of recording and maintaining personal training records," he says.
Richard organised a demonstration of the activepassport through SkillsActive. The activepassportTM is an online tool that provides a verified record of an individual's training, qualifications and personal and professional achievements. It reduces administration by recording achievements, identifying skills gaps and setting reminders for training renewals and refreshers. It also quickly identifies individual and organisational training needs.
Easy access to training records
Richard says the electronic system appealed because it could hold all staff qualifications in one place and be easily updated. He bought 120 activepassportTM for Activity Sheffield's permanent staff who have now entered their training, qualifications, personal and professional details into the system. They will also soon upload their certificates.
"We've got coaches, development officers, operational managers, and office staff all using the system," Richard says. "The feedback is it's easy to use and navigate their way around, even for those who are less computer literate."
Alerts keep qualifications current
Activity Sheffield has used the system to produce reports identifying skills gaps.
"I like the fact that it flags up when staff qualifications expire so you don't have a situation where, for instance, a person's first aid certificate has run out and they're no longer qualified in that area," Richard says.
"The report also identifies if there are several people requiring training in a key area so we can then set up a course for them. And if a staff member leading a coaching session calls in sick, we can search through activepassportTM and see who else is qualified to take the session."
Saves time and creates staff incentive
The activepassport reduces the paperwork and time taken to record staff training, Richard says. It also shows staff that Activity Sheffield takes workforce development seriously.
"Staff are able to upload their training goals onto the system, so we can see these and help them to progress. They know that by putting this system in place, Activity Sheffield genuinely cares about them and investing in their professional development."
In the future, Activity Sheffield plans to extend the activepassportTM to its 80 casual and part time staff. It also wants to use the tool as an incentive for volunteers.
"The activepassport is an excellent way to capture staff training electronically. It's easy to use, it saves time and it's given us a proper hold on staff training. I'm not aware of anything else like it."
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."
David Read, 22, Chris Wood, 32, and Peter Friel, 38, play and coach at Wimbledon Racquets and Fitness Club. The community sports club is one of 33 Badminton England Performance Centres and a registered pre-Olympic badminton training venue for London 2012. It is also currently one of six Badminton England High Performance Centres.
Club director Phil Read says the club's 250-strong junior badminton section provides a powerful springboard for the future, but coaching demand for both juniors and the 450-strong adult section often outstrips supply.
"Money is definitely an obstacle. For example, a Level 2 Certificate in Badminton Coaching costs £350 and that's a lot for coaching candidates to put forward for something they volunteer their time for."
Luckily, Phil's internet search for coaching funding turned up the Mayor's Sports Legacy Fund. Led by SkillsActive's National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure, the Fund is part of the Mayor's plan, 'A Sporting Future for London'.
It provides up to 75% off the cost of training to increase the number of Londoners working and volunteering in the sports sector, and up-skill those already involved. All funding recipients need to do in return is volunteer their new found skills in their local community.
Chris successfully applied for a 75% subsidy towards his Level 1 Certificate in Badminton Coaching and David and Peter, who already had that qualification, successfully applied for the same subsidy towards their Level 2. This reduced Chris's bill to £48.75 and David and Peter's to £87.50.
The men completed the coursework in five weeks. They dedicated their 25 volunteer hours, which were verified by Phil, to helping a group of five adult players move up a grade and to coaching new club members who wished to join a graded session.
"The five graded players lacked tactical awareness and basic knowledge of doubles positioning.
Following two hours coaching a week over 13 weeks from Chris, David and Peter, they have now improved their technique and achieved their grade B. This means they can compete at a higher level."
Phil is confident the extra coaching expertise will contribute to a 2012 legacy for badminton.
"As a High Performance Centre, we're geared towards equipping players with the skills for national, European and international success and as a Performance Centre we are committed to developing junior players. Thanks to the Mayor's Sports Legacy Fund, we have the capacity to take on more of these junior players and nurture their talent. The Mayor's Sports Legacy Fund has been a great help for us, and we're keen to see more of our staff benefit from it."