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Over the previous twelve months, the physical activity sector has taken huge strides towards developing a high-quality and fully-equipped Wellbeing Workforce. In time, this team of highly-skilled experts will be ready and eager to get more people, more active, more often, and to take their place alongside other allied health professionals as the front-line delivery arm of the NHS’s preventative agenda.
[emaillocker] In late 2015, the government published its landmark and aspirational strategy for physical activity, which outlined its intention to make tackling physical inactivity a national priority, backed by a host of wide-ranging policies and investments. In addition to recognising the vital role that the physical activity workforce has to play in delivering this ambition, the strategy included an endorsement of the sector’s decision – led by ukactive – to back the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) as the sole custodian for skills and workforce development. To support this, the government earmarked new funding and manpower to work alongside the organisation in driving this agenda and delivering a comprehensive new workforce strategy.

This represents huge strategic progress for training and development in the sector. While still an area that urgently needs addressing – as demonstrated throughout this report – crucially, the stage is now set for CIMSPA to accelerate its work and make a tangible impact on the ability of newly-qualified fitness professionals to thrive.

This is the third year that ukactive has supported Future Fit Training in conducting expert analysis into this area. The vital research explores how leading sector employers are navigating this landscape on the front-line, and looks at what specific steps can be taken at the national level to equip fitness staff with the technical knowledge and customer engagement skills needed to make getting active fun, easy and a permanent lifestyle change for every new member who walks through the door. More broadly, the sector is in agreement that its traditional customer is changing, and that the challenges presented by an ageing population – alongside the rise in individuals living with non-communicable long-term conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity – represent an opportunity to ensure that activity professionals meet the needs of patients, as well as customers.

As government, Sport England and CIMSPA work together to develop a new workforce strategy for the sector, the views of employers must remain central. Those who pay the bill must set the terms and pace of the debate. ukactive welcomes working in partnership with Future Fit Training to drive forward this agenda.