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Workforce needs to adapt to fulfil physical activity agenda, says GreaterSport CEO

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The workforce in the sport sector will need to become more adaptable and flexible if the government’s physical activity ambition is to be recognised, according to the chief executive of one of the largest County Sports Partnerships (CSP) in the country.

The Sporting Future strategy put forward by the government in December 2015 laid out a number of desired outcomes, including the engagement of hard-to-reach demographics and cross-sector working between sport, health, transport and other industries.

GreaterSport – the CSP overseeing a population of 2.8m in Greater Manchester – has linked up with organisations like Public Health England (PHE) to put physical activity at the top of the agenda.

However, chief executive Yvonne Harrison told Sports Management that there would need to be a “huge workforce development scheme” for the sport sector to effectively engage with traditionally inactive communities and develop partnerships with other interested bodies.

“The workforce piece is really important because if we just assume that the existing work can solve the inactivity crisis and also assume that if we give the NHS a line about the benefits of being physically active, then that’s not going to cut it,” she said.

Instead, those working on the ground in the sport sector need to tailor their approach to the vast amounts of insight being collected around motivation, relationships with physical activity and behaviour change.

Harrison said that within GreaterSport’s constituency were “areas of significant affluence and some of the most deprived parts of the country”, as well as a diverse range of cultures and ethnic backgrounds.

Engaging the inactive in each of these communities was “definitely not one size fits all”, she emphasised.

In 2014, GreaterSport was given a mandate by local organisations in the health, transport and planning sectors to put forward a “coherent view” for the physical activity agenda, which manifested as the Greater Manchester Moving strategy in 2015.

The strategy put forward a number of pledges, and demonstrated how increased physical activity in the region would contribute to the health and economy of Greater Manchester.

“The drive here is around improving the health, wealth and wellbeing of Greater Manchester,” said Harrison.

“If we can get people well and into work, we can generate more taxes within Greater Manchester which can boost spend for Greater Manchester given that it is a devolved authority.”

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The workforce in the sport sector will need to become more adaptable and flexible if the government’s physical activity ambition is to be recognised, according to the chief executive of one of the largest County Sports Partnerships (CSP) in the country.
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