College sports run out of staff

23rd May 2008 at 01:00
Sports training at colleges is in increasing demand as the sports industry urgently seeks more properly trained staff

Sports training at colleges is in increasing demand as the sports industry urgently seeks more properly trained staff.

Ministers have been warned that there is a widening skills shortage.

Skills Active - responsible for assessing the training requirements in the industry - said the supply of trained workers, including coaches and managers - has not kept pace with demand.

The number of jobs in sports-related businesses is growing by an estimated 3.9 per cent a year - four times the rate of the rest of UK industry put together.

But in its annual report, based on a survey of 36,500 organisations, Skills Active says 20 per cent of employers maintain they are short of skilled staff.

The report also says that just 29 per cent of the current workforce are qualified to NVQ Level 2, GCSE-equivalent. In order to better meet the needs of employers, Skills Active is forming an "academy" - effectively an umbrella organisation for the various training organisations, including colleges, around the country.

The academy will consist of a network of "hubs" - central points of contact - where employers can get information about training providers in their area. It has been created because employers have reported being baffled by the variety of courses and training organisations which are available.

The report said: "The fragmentation of the training market means that most employers have difficulty finding a local provider, identifying vocational provision that meets their needs, and ensuring that the training is quality assured and leads to qualifications."

The academy will become increasingly important with the introduction of the new diploma in sport and leisure, which is being developed with the support of employers.

Sue Hook, programme manager for Skills Active, said: "It is vital that colleges and universities take part in shaping the diploma's content. This will influence the take-up and ensure its success." One of the challenges, she says, will be to make sure the diploma takes its place alongside apprenticeships and A-levels as an accepted qualification in the eyes of universities and employers.

The expansion in the sports sector nationally comes as Boris Johnson, the new London mayor, has appointed a commissioner with the brief to increase participation in the capital.

The job has gone to Kate Hoey, a former Labour sports minister. She will promote sporting activities, particularly among youths from deprived communities who may be likely to become involved in crime.

Mr Johnson said: "I am absolutely delighted that Kate is going to be helping me rebuild sport provision in London.

"She has made it perfectly clear that she cares deeply about providing young people in London with access to good sports facilities."

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