Work experience more important than academic qualifications say operators

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

The research, carried out by industry insight specialist Leisure-net Solutions in collaboration with Leisure Industry Week (LIW) and award-winning education provider Lifetime Training, showed work experience was the most important attribute a school leaver could have when applying for a job for 47% of respondents, compared to just 15% saying academic qualifications.

Nigel Wallace, Client Services Director for Lifetime Training said: “Relevant experience has always been an important component within service based industries but the margin in this finding is still surprising. 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 a range of both private and public sector operators, showed the health and fitness industry is also buying into the Government’s commitment to deliver three million apprenticeships during the term of the parliament, with 27% of operators already committed to recruiting apprentices and 45% considering it.

However, whilst 62% of organisations questioned know how to recruit an apprentice, 45% 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. Wallace continued: “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. 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.”

The good news is that overall, confidence in the industry is up with 34% stating they felt more confident and 49% feeling the same as three months ago.

Operators are more confident about the future of their individual businesses too, with 27% saying they were more confident than three months ago and 55% saying they felt the same. Confidence in their primary and secondary income streams in growing too (24% and 20% respectively), although most (59% and 63%) feel the same. Interestingly 37% of respondents believe they will employ more staff in 12 months time than they do now.

Major challenges facing the sector are member retention, the economy and staff costs, with areas requiring the most training also highlighted as customer retention as well as customer service and industry knowledge.

Mike Hill, Director of Leisure-net Solutions said: “It’s really pleasing that confidence in the sector is on the increase, and seems particularly buoyed by better development of secondary income streams. The key challenge, as ever, is member retention, but there seems to be increasing recognition that we need to employ the right staff, with good experience and communication skills, and continue to coach and train them in customer experience delivery if we are going to create a great customer experience.”

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For further press information contact:
Abigail Harris at Big Fish Public Relations
Tel: 07738331019

Editor’s note:
Leisure-net Solutions is the leading provider of Customer Insight, Business Intelligence and Consultation services to the active leisure, fitness and cultural services industries. Leisure-net works helps leading industry organisations, local authorities and Trusts, as well as private sector operators and suppliers, to understand their customers’ and clients’ needs and aspirations, and to deliver innovative service and health improvement initiatives.
Lifetime Training is one of the UK’s largest vocational training providers. Established in 1995, it now delivers innovative training programmes to more than 20,000 people a year. More than 250 Lifetime trainers and tutors work directly with learners at over 3,000 workplaces and educational centres in order to deliver on both educational and business needs. Lifetime Training is the 2014 Flame Awards Supplier of the Year.

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