Written by Charlie Crane, Active Partnerships National Team
Following on from Volunteers’ Week and Coaching Week, I thought I would share my latest thoughts on workforce development…
I have found the last 18-months to be a really interesting and exciting time for workforce development across the Active Partnership network. The expansion of the traditional Sport England coaching investment to include volunteering, clubs and professional workforce is both a positive and welcome change and one which Active Partnerships have really embraced. The timing of our new primary role was perfect when reflecting on the priorities and approaches laid out in Working in an Active Nation, Volunteering in an Active Nation and Coaching in an Action Nation.
I know that a lot of hard work has been carried out by Active Partnerships to better understand the skills and competencies of our current workforce and mapping these to the needs and aspirations of the customer, especially those who are least active or under-represented. Our traditional workforce has always been fantastic in servicing the core market but their value to our sector does not stop there. I have been impressed by the approach and commitment taken by Active Partnerships to engage, support and upskill the existing workforce to better understand and meet the needs and aspirations of those least active. Equally, the resource, tenacity and commitment of Active Partnerships to seek out and work with new partners and communities to develop a workforce that better reflects the local communities in which they are supporting has been both inspiring and commendable. There have been some fantastic case studies whereby lives have been transformed through the work you are doing from both a workforce and participant perspective.
Building on this, I am excited by the breadth and creativity of the recently awarded Workforce Innovation Funds as they demonstrate how far we have come as a network in working effectively with new partners to engage with those communities and individuals who are hardest to reach. For example, Wesport have secured investment to identify and upskill individuals in refugee communities to deliver activities to these communities and CSW plan to work with community clubs and providers to build their capacity and capability to support social prescribing and referral programmes. My role over the next 18-months is to work with Sport England to share the learning from the core workforce investment as well as the innovation projects.
In terms of how workforce fits and underpins everything an Active Partnership does, as you will know, system change and collaborative leadership are now everyday terms in our world. From a workforce perspective, it is imperative that our own teams have the right skills and competencies needed to influence, lead and affect change especially in the new sectors and networks we are operating in e.g. health, economic development, crime prevention. It is sometimes easy to think that only senior managers need these skills but I challenge you as workforce leads to ensure that every person in your team is supported to develop these key skills so that they to have the confidence to lead, influence and drive change both internally and externally in the work they do. I would also challenge you to consider how you make workforce part of the everyday conversation within your Active Partnership and how you are supporting both internal and external colleagues to prioritise ‘people’ in your place-based approaches.
I believe workforce development will continue to be an exciting area of work. The aspiration to double the number of apprenticeships in our sector is a huge opportunity for our network. First and foremost, we should be using the opportunity of the Apprenticeship Levy to invest and upskill our own teams and local partners especially given the breadth of courses available at Level 5-7. At a national level, we have been working with CIMSPA, UK Active, Sport England, Sport Structures, Coach Core and StreetGames to better understand the apprenticeship world and have shared our learning with the network. We have also embraced the opportunity to be part of significant consultations such as the Workforce Registration Consultation and the review of the Minimum Standards of Deployment for working in schools, both of which could have a significant impact on our sector. The upcoming School Sport Action Plan is also a timely opportunity to collectively reflect on the needs of our current and future workforce and how we can work better together to improve both the physical literacy and positive attitudes of young people towards sport and physical activity. From a health perspective, the falls prevention and social prescribing agendas are advancing at a significant pace and it is important that we continue to share learning across the network and advocate the work we are doing in these areas to partners both nationally and locally.
In summary, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all Active Partnerships workforce leads for your commitment in putting ‘people’ at the heart of everything you are doing locally and for adopting the broader definition of coaching with gusto and ease. We know that ‘people’ are the critical link in terms of tackling the stubborn trend of inactivity and I am confident that as a network, we will continue to support local partners, communities and places to better support, engage and inspire a workforce that better reflects the needs of our inactive and under-represented customers.
Partnership Manager, Active Partnerships national team