Fitness & Health

Leisure faces an acute skills shortage

Although unemployment in the United Kingdom is rising, skills shortages still exist in some sectors, such as sports and leisure. Research produced by the government-sponsored Sector Skills Agreement shows that, while the number of jobs in sports and leisure has grown at an annual rate of 3.9pc in recent years, it remains constrained by a low-skills-base workforce.

About 20pc of the UK industry’s 36,500 organisations report skills gaps, with 29pc of the leisure workforce lacking qualifications up to NVQ Level 2 or equivalent. To fill the gap, the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure is planning to train 85,000 new entrants in the industry, together with existing staff and volunteers, each year.

However, it estimates that in order to meet the Government’s target for 50pc of the nation to be active by 2020, the industry will need to fill 100,000 new jobs by 2014 and find 85,000 new staff each year to replace those leaving.Yet such figures do not take into account the estimated five million volunteers who support clubs and other organisations in the active learning and leisure sector, which means that skills gaps affect 20pc of establishments in the sector – higher than the 16pc reported in England as a whole. “This suggests that 17,000 employees have skills weaknesses that need addressing,” says Florence Orban, interim CEO at the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure.

One initiative aiming to address this is The Centre of Excellence for Fitness, launched in October by Lifetime, a training organisation with 10 venues in England running government-funded programmes in fitness instruction and personal training. The courses are free and people finishing them can go into the workforce to finish their NVQ.

Lynda Brown, a project leader, says: “The fitness sector is growing and there are some fantastic free training opportunities to help people achieve a rewarding career.”

Source: Daily Telegraph

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