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Leisure snubbed in government plans for skills shake-up

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Government plans for a major shake-up of Post-16 vocational education have been met with disappointment from the leisure industry, after the newly-proposed routes into skilled employment appeared to overlook the sector.

Skills minister Nick Boles has tabled plans to remove thousands of “ineffective courses that short-change employers and young people” and replace them with 15 “straightforward routes” into technical employment covering key industries. The recommended reforms are based on a report into technical education by an independent panel, chaired by Lord Sainsbury.

Among the new routes are Construction; Transport and Logistics; as well as Legal, Finance and Accounting; however there is no clear route for entering the leisure industry. In fact, the word ‘leisure’ did not feature once in Boles’ 60-page Post-16 skills plan, despite the £117bn leisure sector accounting for 7.4 per cent of GDP, according to Deloitte.

When contacted by Leisure Opportunities, a department for education spokesperson said that the government has included leisure industry jobs in the 15 Skills Plan routes, but across different pathways.

“As the routes have been developed to group skilled occupations with shared knowledge, skills and behaviour, leisure sector careers will be spread across different routes,” said the spokesperson.

“For example, jobs such as health and fitness trainers would be included within the Health and Science Route. A job such as park ranger would be included within the Agriculture, Environment and Animal Care Route.”

In response to the report and Post-16 skills plan, the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMPSA) said it broadly agrees with Lord Sainsbury’s 34 recommendations for skills reform, but expressed concern that the sport and physical activity sector isn't given its own direct route within the plans.

“It is disappointing that, once again, the sport and physical activity sector and the contribution it makes to developing young people has been overlooked,” said CIMSPA CEO Tara Dillon.

“We have to make a better case for the impact our sector has on equipping young people with skills for life. The sector employs over 500,000 and is one which young people can join knowing full well there is no glass ceiling to their progression.”

Controversially, the Post-16 skills plan includes the proposal to have just one awarding organisation for each of the 15 routes. CIMSPA says it will work with the government to discuss how the sector can influence the rollout and implementation of the recommendations, but emphasised it does not wish to see “a qualifications-awarding monopoly.”

Dillon added that CIMSPA will work to ensure that, going forwards, the sport and physical activity sector plays a more prominent part in government thinking on education and skills than has been the case to date.

She added: “Tackling inactivity has been put firmly on the health and sporting policy agenda; our job is to now do the same in the area of education and skills.”

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Government plans for a major shake-up of Post-16 vocational education have been met with disappointment from the leisure industry, after the newly-proposed routes into skilled employment appeared to overlook the sector.
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