It is now just over a year ago that the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure was officially given the green light by the government. Since then the Skills Academy has made significant inroads towards its ultimate aim of having the right staff in the right place with the right skills. I’d like to take a few moments to review the Skills Academy’s aims and to reflect on our notable achievements over the past twelve months.
The Skills Academy is working hard towards ensuring higher standards, better career opportunities and a more professional approach to training in the sector. To this end, we have put in place a team of seventeen, with eleven board members, an advisory committee and regional operations groups.
The national launch last November attracted government ministers and employers from across the country. This was followed by the launch of the Online Academy, where over 150 e-learning courses and 60 offline courses can be accessed as well as membership purchased. The Skills Academy has achieved charitable status and received confirmation to move to the Olympic Legacy Park after London 2012.
The Skills Academy’s main function is to add value to employers and individuals wanting to enter or progress in the sector. This is being achieved by ensuring that only the best training providers and programmes are offered; by gaining value for money via economies of scale and maximisation of training budgets; by demonstrating the impact of a skilled workforce on business and organisation performance; and by capitalising on the transferability of skill sets that can be applied within the sector such as people skills, leadership, teamwork and motivation.
In order to recruit individuals to the sector, the Skills Academy works proactively to embrace and harness emerging programmes and funding. This is in addition to up-skilling and professionalising those already working or volunteering in the sport and active leisure sector, such as the Sport England-funded National Coaching Investment Programme and the Department for Work and Pensions Future Jobs Fund.
Throughout our interactions, engagements and operations at the Skills Academy there are three main principles that underpin everything we do: clarity of the offer within a confused marketplace; innovation in matching employer needs and preferred style of delivery with learning provision; and quality in ensuring only the best training in the sector is offered under the Skills Academy brand.
And for our learners, there are several benefits when they deal with the Skills Academy including: dase of access to learning through our Online Academy; quality of learning that is badged and guaranteed; increased chances to be promoted to supervisor/manager level
Increased access to level 3 qualifications; and increased flexibility for volunteers to access tailor made courses.
To date the Skills Academy has delivered the £1.8m National Coaching Investment Programme in partnership with Sport England, Sportscoach UK and SkillsActive. We have secured a £1.9m Apprenticeship Expansion Programme from the Learning and Skills Council which will provide wage subsidies in addition to apprenticeship training costs.
Nearly one year on we have over 50 employer members and an approved network of 47 contracted training providers. Lifetime was our first approved provider and awarded the Centre of Excellence for Fitness for National Employers. Since then they have trained over 500 apprentices. And overall to date over 6,000 learners are active or have completed their courses and qualifications.
So I would like to thank all our partners for providing their invaluable expertise, support and enthusiasm in the Skills Academy’s first year. It is this joined-up approach that has enabled us to hit our milestones and we look forward to continuing this success in the future.
Florence Orban is chief executive of the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure.
The Skills Academy works in conjunction with approved training providers across the country, as well as the CMI and Learndirect, to offer a range of qualifications and courses to help managers looking to improve the motivation of their staff. Such courses include Motivation, Interpersonal Skills/Trust, Supporting Individuals, Supporting Others, Coaching and Building the Team. For more information on the wide range of leadership and management courses available from the National Skills Academy for Sport and Active Leisure, visit www.sportactivensa.co.uk
For previous NSA columns and other articles in The Leisure Review visit the features page.
The Leisure Review, July 2009
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