Work experience more important than qualifications, say fitness operators
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Work experience more important than qualifications, say fitness operators

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Work experience is more important than academic qualifications, according to operators taking part in the latest Fitness Industry Confidence Survey.

The findings follow a growing sentiment in the industry that many qualifications do not provide candidates who are fit-for-purpose, with a lack of ‘soft skills’ of particular concern.

The latest research, carried out by insight specialist Leisure-net Solutions in collaboration with Leisure Industry Week (LIW) and Lifetime Training, showed work experience was the most important attribute a school leaver could have when applying for a job. Around 47 per cent of respondents expressed a preference for new-starters to have work experience, compared to just 15 per cent saying academic qualifications.

“Relevant experience has always been an important component within service based industries, but the margin in this finding is still surprising,” said Nigel Wallace, client services director for Lifetime Training.

“It really suggests that skill and knowledge-based training integrated within the work setting is perhaps the most effective means to build talent within an organisation.”

The survey, which questioned 143 senior managers and directors from private and public sector operators, showed sections of the health and fitness industry are behind the government’s commitment to deliver three million apprenticeships during this term of parliament. Around 27 per cent of operators are already committed to recruiting apprentices and 45 per cent are considering it.

Apprenticeships have been a hot topic in the physical activity sector of late, following the attainment of Trailblazer status, allowing employers to define apprenticeship standards for PTs and leisure managers. The extra responsibility is designed to enable the industry to streamline training pathways and proactively address skills shortages.

However, whilst 62 per cent of organisations questioned know how to recruit an apprentice, 45 per cent were unsure or unaware of how to implement an apprentice scheme, showing work still needs to be done to ensure the government’s places are taken up by our industry.

“Whilst our industry has been getting more involved in apprenticeships over the past few years these figures suggest many operators are still missing out on the opportunity,” added Wallace.

“Getting started for an employer couldn’t be easier, as all the challenges involved in dealing with audits, compliance, funding and such like are absorbed by the training provider.”

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Work experience is more important than academic qualifications, according to operators taking part in the latest Fitness Industry Confidence Survey.
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