What is an apprenticeship?

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Apprenticeships are growing in popularity, and are becoming an increasingly usual career path for all those wanting to work in sport. Here, icon-training.com’s Nick Speroni explains what they are, how you get involved, and the opportunities in 2018, and beyond…

Apprenticeships in sport and fitness seem to be growing in terms of popularity and provision… why do you think that is?

Because the sector is an attractive one to work in as it offers real diversity and opportunity of experience and covers all aspects of sport and recreation from professional sport to exercise instruction, including work in leisure centres, gyms, swimming pools, stadiums, and private sports clubs, as well as a range of outdoor activities. With roughly 584,000 employed workers plus 2.3 million volunteers engaged in sport and fitness throughout the country there are many roles on offer to suit different tastes and abilities. If you like working with people, then a career as a fitness instructor, coach or activity leader could prove rewarding. If football is your passion, you could help manage club facilities or work as an event marshal during matches. And for those who prefer to work quietly behind the scenes, operational services are needed to support every business and organisation in the sector. Increasingly, the Government is relying on the industry to help fight illness and obesity. There’s a growing number of fitness club and leisure centre users, which means a growing number of employment vacancies.

A career pathway in sport and leisure, from frontline roles such as Lifeguarding to Managing Director is already mapped out within the leisure sector. It is entirely possible to become a general manager within five to seven years and become a CEO of an organisation within 16 to 20 years with many examples of leaders of organisation having followed similar routes throughout their career.

There seem to be more opportunities to learn on the job, alongside degrees. What has brought about that change?

The recent apprenticeship reforms have increased the awareness of on the job learning because larger organisations are now having to pay. A modern apprenticeship can teach the skills necessary in several professions and provides invaluable on the job experience that can be gained through apprenticeships that take place in gyms, clubs, recreation centres and in sports teams. On the employer side, sport and fitness apprenticeship allows for the opportunity to mould on-the-job training in the way that the company desires. Sports and fitness apprenticeships will take on apprentices at various levels, from school leavers to university candidates and investment is being poured into promoting sports and fitness and improving facilities from community to professional level. In fact, there’s never been a better time to start a career in the industry.

The government are looking to make more new apprentices than ever… is now the best time to get into an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships have been around for a long, long time but there was a period where their attractiveness waned versus going to university. However, recent reports are showing a real shift in opinion when it comes to education and training options, with more and more people starting to favour apprenticeships as an option after they finish school. An apprenticeship is beneficial for people who favour an experiential learning methodology but there are plenty more reasons why now is a great time to get started on an apprenticeship.

What are the benefits of an apprenticeship or traineeship?

In many instances, apprentices can earn several times more than university graduates in their first role and as recently documented, the current gap between the lifetime earnings of apprentices and university graduates is closing and now stands at 1.8%, demonstrating clearly that the skills and experience that apprentices will gain on their apprenticeship add real value and boosts their future earning potential.

You can also start an apprenticeship at any time as opportunities are available at any time of year. That means whether you’re working part-time, going through clearing, or have a new year’s resolution to start your career, there is an apprenticeship ready and waiting in a variety of sectors. There’s also the opportunity to earn while you learn and avoid the large debts that can be associated with a university education and you can develop practical and vocational skills that are more attractive to employers than purely academic skills and knowledge

What are job prospects like for those with an apprenticeship? And how do they compare to degree qualification?

By committing to and completing an apprenticeship, a person is demonstrating a commitment to learning and employment that is attractive to employers in a working environment where people will increasingly move jobs more frequently than in the past. Apprenticeships also build skills that employers can use, making them potentially more effective, efficient employees

What do ICON do?

ICON a multi-award-winning training company. We stand for excellence and inspirational learning.

Our aim is to motivate and energise by strengthening learner employability, raising aspirations and building confidence.

Self-belief is at the core of what we do and we share that belief across our organisation, with our learners and with our employers. We believe that given the right support and guidance, people can achieve many great things. Through every step of the journey, our tutors provide skilled guidance, working with our learners’ commitment and determination. With the help and support offered by our master trainers, our learners can leap every hurdle that comes their way.

ICON is a company that helps our learners gain new skills and knowledge, improving work-based performance and employer objectives.

We offer routes from Traineeships all the way to supporting Directors of organisations deliver a career pathway that support all employees to reach their maximum potential. We work with organisations such as the Chartered Management Institute (CMI), ukactive. CIMSPA, Active IQ who support ICON in delivering market leading qualifications that support long term careers and change lives as demonstrated by many case studies of our successful learners.

We have a rich history of working with schools including managing one of the largest ‘Young Apprenticeships’ schemes in the UK for 14-16 year olds which was part of a national scheme to encourage students from local schools to gain a variety of vocational skills, experience and work-based industry qualifications to prepare them for employment and career pathways

We currently work with Fusion Lifestyle, a large employing social enterprise leisure trust that operate several local leisure facilities in Oxfordshire, employing local people and committing 30 new apprenticeships per year which represents 14% of their local workforce.

We have proposed to Fusion a large national Apprenticeship programme called Fusion 500 where we will build the programme from 2017 to over 500 apprenticeships a year and sustain them by recruiting via schools onto level 2 Apprenticeships or via Traineeships.

ICON and Fusion are creating Ambassadors in partnership that will be available to aspirational school pupils who express a desire for a career in sport and physical activity, administration, leadership and management or customer service across a range of sectors.