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  • Writer's pictureCIMSPA

Striking a new path – IfATE approves dry-only pathway for Leisure Team Member apprenticeship

Following a proposal made by CIMSPA on behalf of the sport and physical activity sector, the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IfATE) have agreed to a change to the Leisure Team Member apprenticeship which will lead to more opportunities for employers and employees.

After consulting with sector employers, training providers and CIMSPA members, a proposed change to the Leisure Team Member apprenticeship was submitted to the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education route panel.

The proposition included a major difference in the end-point assessment to enable more employers to benefit from the apprenticeship. Currently, a significant amount of the apprenticeship content is based around pool management, with final qualifications including awards in pool lifeguarding and teaching swimming. This means that venues without ‘wet facilities’ struggle to accommodate the requirements for an employee to be able to complete the apprenticeship.

Following discussion and approval by the IfATE panel, the apprenticeship will be updated to include an option for completion at dry-only facilities.

CIMSPA will now work with IfATE and employers through the sector Professional Development Board to design the new assessment pathway and occupational standard. They aim to release this to be ready for apprentices starting later this year, however, we will be providing updates as the development progresses.

Tara Dillon, CEO of CIMSPA, sees this as a big win for sector employers:

“We are delighted that more employers operating leisure facilities will have the opportunity to realise the fantastic benefits of apprenticeships.

“Through the sector’s Professional Development Boards and Committees, which CIMSPA is proud to facilitate, we know how challenging employers that do not have pool facilities have found it to accommodate the requirements of the Leisure Team Member Apprenticeship.”

Adapting to attract

The update is the result of consistent demand from key sports and physical activity sector employers. They have highlighted the importance of increasing the number of options and pathways into careers in the industry, requesting this change to the Leisure Team Member apprenticeship for some time. This apprenticeship provides not only an essential starting point for people looking to build a career in the sector but also a great skills-development opportunity for those working in the sector.

With 56% of national leisure venues not including ‘wet’ facilities, i.e. swimming pools, the existing learning programme significantly restricts the sites that can accommodate potential apprentices.

The new option is a huge win for improving sector recruitment and skills development, as the change will allow more employers to accommodate apprenticeships without the need for apprentices to transfer between sites or employers.

“Our employer partners regularly tell us about the amazing impact that apprentices that they employ have on their business, so we are pleased to have been able to work with IfATE to help ensure that the impact is felt even wider,” Tara commented.

It also makes the apprenticeship more attractive to potential apprentices, as they can develop and demonstrate the knowledge, skills and behaviours that they develop at facilities local to them without the need for pool access. This is particularly important for ensuring that people from a range of backgrounds and communities can develop their careers through an apprenticeship.

With the new option, more individuals will be able to complete the Level 2 apprenticeship and be equipped with a broad skill set ready to kickstart their career in the leisure sector. Dry-only pathway apprentices will achieve alternative qualifications such as through gym instructor training, as both apprenticeship options will be equally weighted.

The CIMSPA 2024–2030 strategy, ‘Releasing the Power of our Profession’

This development reflects as progress in two of the new CIMSPA strategy system interventions. By ensuring that quality-assured learning opportunities are broader and reflect the real-life landscape of the sector, we are better aligning supply and demand in education provision.

The result of this is a supportive environment that allows people considering careers in sports and physical activity to find pathways into the industry suited to their unique needs. These individuals, as well as those already working in the sector, can flourish which makes them more likely to remain within the sector as they grow in their career.

1 There are 7239 Health and fitness facilities and 3170 pools in the UK. This would suggest there are 4069 facilities with no wet provision (56%).


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