Trailblazer gains momentum as three new apprenticeships standards announced

The active training workshop and awards 2015, which took place in Marlow on 26 November, marked a milestone step forward in the sector’s skills and workforce development agenda, with detailed discussions as to next steps and a timeline for development of the sector’s skills framework. Significantly, the day also marked agreement on three new sets of apprenticeships standards to be developed by the physical activity sector trailblazer group.

The trailblazer project management group met in advance of the event, which is formed from the group of employers tasked with steering the new development process, and whose work is coordinated by the CIMSPA secretariat. The group set out its ambition that the next three trailblazer standards to be drafted would be those for fitness instructor, leisure assistant and children's activity practitioner.

Initial expressions of interest will be submitted to the relevant government agencies in the first quarter of 2016, with unique steering groups for each standard to be formed. The group also agreed a communications plan for the coming year, with ukactive and CIMSPA working together to ensure communications are clear and employer engagement is maintained throughout the process.

The emergence of these new standards will coincide with the implementation of the new skills framework, with a single set of standards for all roles, at all levels being led by CIMSPA. Tara Dillon, CEO, CIMSPA, set out detailed plans at the active training workshop, with a current count of around 60 roles and corresponding standards on the horizon over the next few years.

The workshop and awards this year fell at a key time for the sector: interest in apprenticeships has increased due to the employer levy creating opportunities and focus, whilst the recent release of the “raising the bar” report highlighted employer perceptions around current standards, heightened by reforms to the QCF (Qualifications and Credit Framework) that could potentially lead to a 'race to the bottom' for skills. In July 2015 ukactive’s membership council made a clear call for a single body to house levels 1-7, with single registration and single assessment standards, leading to the development of the 'chartered activity professional'.

Rich Millard, chair of the trailblazer project management group, said "The trailblazer project has been a shining example of employer and sector collaboration on workforce development. By the end of January 2016 we will have submitted the first two assessment plans for the leisure duty manager and personal trainer roles, the standards for both of which were successfully developed and approved this year, driven by two employer-led steering groups.

To continue down this positive path, it is crucial to ensure all employers have an understanding of the significant opportunity with which they are currently faced, and an awareness of how they can get involved. We cannot rely on awarding organisations and training providers to develop standards on our behalf, it is crucial employers of all sizes have a say throughout the process start to finish, as one size doesn’t necessarily fit all.”

As successful as the process has been thus far, the challenge we now face could be that consultations have a tendency to be led by larger employers, and as a result, smaller trusts and local authority employers may find themselves ‘out of the loop’.

Steven Ward, executive director, ukactive stated "ukactive, as a representative voice of employers in the physical activity sector, supports CIMSPA on behalf its members, who have made a clear call for a single body to house all levels 1-7.”

“ukactive have committed to providing assistance to the trailblazer group by developing a communications strategy with CIMSPA to drive employer engagement at all levels, across all regions, to ensure the development of a set of standards fit for the workforce of the future."

Tara Dillon, CIMSPA CEO commented: "Our focus for the last two years has been on listening to employers and laying the foundations of a skills landscape that meets their needs. It's exciting to now be moving into the next chapter of the story.” About the active training workshop and awards 2015

The ukactive and CIMSPA active training workshop and awards 2015 took place in Marlow on 27 November 2015. The awards celebrate exceptional performance committed to vocational training and development within the physical activity sector.

Incorporated by Royal Charter Charity registration number 1144545

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