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Education and Training


Qualification level of sector

The distribution of qualification attainment in the active leisure, learning and well-being sector is very similar to that seen across the whole economy:

  • 34% are qualified to Level 4 and above, 33% across all sectors of the economy
  • 21% have below Level 2 qualifications, 20% compared with the whole economy

However, there needs to be a distinction between general levels of qualifications and sector-specific qualifications. Sector-specific qualifications are believed to be in short supply, but are required by the industry for regulatory and licensing purposes.

Playwork is the most well qualified sector, as 46% of the workforce have Level
4 or 5 qualifications, and only 19% have a Level 1 or no qualification. However, this data is misleading as the industry is dominated by primary education where the workforce is qualified to a high level. There is a shortage of people with playwork specific qualifications.

In health and fitness, Level 2 is the industry accepted minimum qualification for Fitness Instructors and Exercise to Music Teachers. More than one quarter of the fitness workforce hold honours degrees as their highest qualification level, of which 45% is relevant to the industry.

Source: Sector Skills Assessment – Active Leisure, Learning and Well-being: UK 2010 and Working in Fitness Survey 2009

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Apprenticeships and work-based learning

The Apprenticeship framework contains occupational pathways in key sector areas including: health and fitness; coaching; playwork; the outdoors; and facility operations and management. The mandatory outcomes for completion lead to a Level 2 or Level 3 S/NVQ, some Key Skills awards, a Technical Certificate and other industry-relevant skills.

The Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) responds to the need for talented youngsters to train and improve in their chosen sport while also gaining vocational or academic qualifications. This is to ensure these young people have alternative employment opportunities if they do not succeed in their performance related pathway.

Sixty-nine work based learning qualifications from twelve awarding bodies were identified in the sector, but none were identified in the caravan industry. The majority of the work-based learning provision is within health and fitness, and sport and recreation at NVQ Levels 2 and 3. There is, however, limited provision.

In 2007, just over 2,300 people started an Apprenticeship in active leisure, learning and well-beingand around 770 started the Advanced Apprenticeship. Around 2% of starts across all Apprenticeship Pathways and 1.5% on Advanced Apprenticeships were in Active Leisure and Learning. The number of certifications for Apprenticeships (level 2 and 3) has increased over the last year. Growth at level 2 has been continuous for the last 3 years, whilst the number of certifications at level 3 has been variable.

A higher than average proportion of apprentices are male. There is a need to increase the proportion of female apprentices to be more reflective of the gender profile of the workforce. A higher than average proportion of active leisure, learning and well-being Apprentices are over 19. This is likely to link to the age restrictions imposed in some sub-sectors (e.g. the Sport and the Outdoors).

Source: Assessment of Current Provision – England 2006 and South West Sport and Leisure Progression Pilot – SkillsActive 2009

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Further education

There are a wide range of Further Education college-based courses in areas such as sport science and fitness instruction.

The majority (96%) of those taking academic qualifications are aged under 19. However, the demographic for technical and not accredited qualifications is much older with 38% of students studying technical and 46% of students studying not accredited qualifications were aged over 24.

83% of students are aged under 25 years which is similar to student profiles for sport and recreation, and the outdoors. In caravans, playwork, plus health and fitness, there is an older age profile of students. On health and fitness courses, 40% of students are aged 25 years and over.

10% of the student population on SkillsActive course are from ethnic minority groups. 63% of students on sector related qualifications are male.

Source: Assessment of Current Provision – England 2006, data provided by SkillsActive May 2006 and Skills Active regional fact sheets

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Higher education

Higher-level qualifications are available at undergraduate and postgraduate level. These include degrees in subject areas such as physical education, sports development, sports coaching, sport science and physiology and sport and recreation management.

In 2004, one in five (18%) of the 81,000 higher education applications in England onto SkillsActive courses were accepted. By industry the number of entrants varies, including:

  • 11,561 on sport and recreation courses
  • 3,897 on health and fitness courses
  • 5,25 on the outdoors courses
  • 78 on playwork courses

Most higher education acceptances are on playwork and outdoors courses, but applications are highest for sports and fitness related courses.

However, there were over 1,550 entrants on coaching courses in the UK in 2004. The number of applications on coaching courses has doubles in the last five years and there has been a 145% increase in acceptances since 1999. The gender imbalance has remained unchanged with approximately seven in ten entrants who are male.

In Scotland, one in five applicants were also accepted onto higher education courses. However, there are currently no higher education qualifications available in playwork or the caravan industry. In 2004, there was an increase of 78% for acceptances onto sport and recreation courses and a higher proportion from men (7 in 10 entrants).

Graduate Apprenticeship, to be re-launched in the future, will be designed to act as a Higher Education and employment bridging programme that develops the occupational competence required by employers. A foundation degree has been agreed and will be available in the future.

Source: Assessment of Current Provision – England 2006 and Assessment of Current Provision – Scotland 2006

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Continuing professional development

Data from the Working in Fitness Survey 2009 shows that:

  • The sector spends an average £484 and six days on training and development per annum.
  • Only 9% of respondents said they had not attended any training and development days. Almost one fifth reported a lack of training. Gym instructors (34%) and club/duty managers (31%) most commonly reported a lack of training.
  • The fitness workforce mainly pays for their own training and to a greater extent than last year (58% compared to 45% in 2008).
  • Working in the public sector or charity, voluntary, community sector results in greater employer support, whilst the private sector workforce mainly pay for their own training (72%).

Source: Working in Fitness Survey 2009

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