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By Jenny Patrickson, Managing Director, Active IQ

I was delighted to be asked to chair the morning panel at the CIMSPA conference last week, to discuss ‘the positive pay-off from investing in staff skills and training’. Firstly, having been previously involved in the development of individuals in the training sector, I’ve seen first-hand the impact that education can have on people’s lives, in relation to the development of knowledge, skills and behaviours and subsequently on future performance. Then, from an awarding organisation perspective, I’ve seen how individuals can follow clear professional development pathways, by undertaking relevant training and/or qualifications to climb the career ladders that exist within out sector. And as an employer, I’ve seen the impact that training and development can have on outcomes – in relation to all areas of the business including sales, customer service, quality assurance and management.

If you consider the investment we typically make in marketing budgets, infrastructure and equipment, why wouldn’t we also invest in our people? We know this, but at the same time we are in the midst of significant change when it comes to the world of training and development; and the current and future landscape is complex and somewhat uncertain. As well as apprenticeship reform, we’re also now facing significant change in the area of technical education. With the introduction of ‘T-Levels’, as they have been referred to recently, we will see the evolution of 15 technical pathways for 16-19 technical education. September 2018 will see the start of new ‘T-Level’ qualifications arise across fifteen areas, with a move to replacing many existing vocational qualifications across all sectors, with the aim of providing an equally rigorous pathway for technical education, to ensure parity of esteem with A-Levels.

All good intentions, but with sport and active leisure largely ignored, buried and somewhat lost within the proposed ‘health and science’ technical pathway, where does that leave us and our sector? Will more in-house training be required to ensure an adequate return on investment as a result of young people entering our businesses without the relevant knowledge, skills and behaviours simply because our world of work is not regarded as ‘technical enough’ by government? In the absence of a 16th technical pathway for sport and active leisure, it’s going to be our job as a sector to collectively shape the proposed skills plan as best we can to meet the needs of employers and learners alike, to ensure that our sector gets the recognition it so rightly deserves.