Apprenticeship: earn and learn!

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Maddie Smith, Work Based Learning Manager with Freedom Leisure Training (www.freedom-leisuretraining.co.uk) reveals how you can progress your career and earn while you learn thanks to an apprenticeship.

Why is an apprenticeship a good way to start a career in health and fitness?
An apprenticeship allows a young person to expose themselves to all elements of working in a leisure centre and get experience of working in a busy and diverse environment. You will gain experience of different types of clients and be able to learn from not only your tutors and assessors, but also your work colleagues and managers. You will earn while you learn and be more employable at the end of you time as an apprentice. 

Are there some benefits to an apprenticeship that you wouldn’t get if you went to University to study fitness or took an entry level job in the leisure industry?
Undertaking an apprenticeship gives you the hands-on experience of doing real work with real clients/customers. The fitness-based qualifications that you will gain are also industry recognised and will allow you to access the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPS).

What sort of health and fitness related apprenticeships are available?
There are Intermediate and advanced level apprenticeships available. Intermediate apprenticeships include Leisure Operations, Swimming Teaching, Exercise and Fitness and Customer Service you need no qualifications in order to start out on these routes. The advanced apprenticeships include a level 3 Personal Training qualification – which will allow you to earn more money for yourself and your club by delivering personal training to a range of clients – and a level 3 apprenticeship in Leisure Management.  A level 2 qualification is a pre-requisite for these courses.

How do you know if an apprenticeship (and which apprenticeship) is right for you?
You should research what is available to you in your chosen area and weigh up the pros and cons of each pathway. It is always good to get some advice and maybe even try to speak to people who have completed an apprenticeship before.

Are all health and fitness apprenticeships paid the same?
All apprenticeships have to pay a minimum of £2.68 per hour. Some apprenticeships offer a higher wage but the majority will be paid at this rate. All apprenticeship frameworks have to contain additional technical certificates and at Freedom Leisure Training we will try and choose qualifications which will allow our learner to earn some extra money, such as completing a Group Indoor Cycling qualification.

Are all apprenticeships the same length?
Intermediate apprenticeships (Level 2) are a minimum of 12 months and advanced apprenticeships (Level 3) are a minimum of 18 months.

What questions should I ask at the interview?
Try to find out as much about the apprenticeship as possible by asking questions like: ‘what qualifications will I gain when completing the apprenticeship? What opportunities may there be at the end of the apprenticeship?’ and ‘what will be my duties and responsibilities be?’ Also ask questions about your place of work such as ‘how many staff work at the centre? What are the shift patterns? How many members does the leisure centre have?’

What happens at the end of the apprenticeship?
At the end of your apprenticeship you will be in a really good position to apply for full-time positions in the leisure industry. If you are on an Intermediate apprenticeship it may be possible to go on to an advanced apprenticeship. Your assessor and training team will be on hand to offer information, advice and guidance all the way through your training and will be there to support you at the end of your time as an apprentice.

Freedom Leisure Training delivers a wide range of apprenticeship and training opportunities throughout the south east of England.  With over 30 leisure sites across Sussex, Surrey and Kent they have extensive experience in the provision of leisure, fitness, customer service and sales training. For more information on Freedom Leisure Training apprenticeships visit www.freedom-leisuretraining.co.uk