Fitness workforce "ill-equipped" to deal with changing customer base
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Fitness workforce "ill-equipped" to deal with changing customer base

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The UK’s fitness workforce is “ill-equipped” to deal with the needs and requirements of a modern-day, diverse customer base – according to an industry report published today.

The Raising the Bar 2016 report, compiled by Future Fit Training in partnership with ukactive and CIMSPA, charts the results of a survey which set out to identify the ability of fitness employers and their employees to deliver a service in a market which increasingly includes special populations.

The results show that a huge majority (88 per cent) of the sector’s employers believe personal training staff are not adequately educated to engage with special populations – such as children, older adults, pre and post-natal women, diabetics and overweight clients.

Published today (9 November) during the ukactive Summit in London, the report states: “The survey clearly shows that the industry’s personal training qualification standards need to improve in a meaningful way to meet the shift in expectation and demand from today’s changing customer base.

“No longer is the industry simply working with healthy people looking to get fit. Today’s trainers are increasingly asked to work with special populations and children and tasked to helped deliver on NHS, government and Sport England policies.

“The customer demand has changed dramatically over recent years, but the training of professionals has not, resulting in a workforce that is ill-equipped to help people bring about sustainable improvements to their health and wellbeing.”

The report’s findings paint a picture of an industry which recognises the need for change, but also a desire to see a revision in its training and assessment standards.

Findings include:

• 100 per cent of employers find they have to provide additional training to ensure fitness staff are work ready

• 88 per cent of employers believe personal training staff are not currently adequately equipped to engage with special populations, including children, older adults, pre & post-natal, diabetic or overweight clients

• 80 per cent believe the skills to work with special populations should be included as standard in the personal trainer qualification

• 84 per cent of employers believe the personal training qualifications should take no less than six months to complete (48 per cent said they should take a minimum of 12 months)

• 100 per cent of employers say that practical assessment using real clients is key and accept neither remote assessments nor those done with simulated clients or peers

• 78 per cent of employers are uncertain of the robustness of children’s fitness qualifications

Steven Ward, ukactive executive director, said: “This vital research explores how leading sector employers are navigating this landscape on the front line and looks at what specific steps can be taken at the national level to equip fitness staff with the technical knowledge and customer engagement skills needed to make getting active fun, easy and a permanent lifestyle change.

“As government, Sport England and CIMSPA work together to develop a new workforce strategy for the sector, the views of employers must remain central. Those who pay the bill must set the terms and pace of the debate.”

Raising the Bar 2016 is published at a time of change in the industry including the formal backing of CIMSPA from both government and Sport England to develop a new workforce strategy for physical activity.

With more changes expected in 2017, alongside the introduction of the new Apprenticeship Levy on May 1, 2017, the industry is undergoing extensive strategic reorientation of the sector’s ambitions for a professional and competent workforce.

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The UK’s fitness workforce is “ill-equipped” to deal with the needs and requirements of a modern-day, diverse customer base – according to an industry report published today.
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