It has been clear for some time that the leisure industry does not have enough confidence in the capability of some of its key job roles to deliver what is required for an evolving sector. The sector is constantly developing to incorporate various elements including technology and health, and it is crucial the workforce keeps pace with these developments in order to meet its ambition to be a frontline deliverer of wellbeing. A changing sector requires a changing workforce and this is not currently being delivered.

Whilst ukactive already has an extensive understanding of the sector’s concerns in this area, some of the statistics arising from this consultation were still deeply concerning such as the fact that not one employer claimed they were satisfied with the current Level 3 Personal Trainer qualification, one of the sector’s most crucial roles.

This research, combined with corresponding existing research in this field, is extremely valuable in highlighting and confirming where key skills gaps exist and what employers would like to see introduced in order to improve this. The failure of the current system is costing businesses valuable time and resources that could be better used elsewhere. However, as a sector, we are now coming to terms with and facing down this issue.

The sector is in agreement that training and assessment standards are not satisfactory in their current state, we have identified where the skills gaps lie and it is now time to implement change in the sector to correct this. Following a confirmation from employers through a series of events in 2014 and 2015, the leisure sector, via ukactive’s Membership Council, made a clear call to regulators that the skills development pathway for physical activity should be held within a single body responsible for the administration of an updated skills pathway from levels 1-7. It has tasked its Chartered Institute, CIMSPA, with the role of delivering this in consultation with, but under the direct control of employers.

It is essential to ensure the sector is united on this issue, as it is necessary to have the backing of a broad range of stakeholders in order for any reforms to successfully take hold. The next step is the development of a long-term workforce development strategy, housing all job roles within the sector in one place and creating a unified structure with clear pathways and progression for people joining our workforce. We have to invest in the development of a new, comprehensive and dynamic skills structure that our industry needs.

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