CIMSPA welcomes Raising the Bar 2018

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CIMSPA has welcomed the latest Raising the Bar report, based on research from our partners Future Fit Training and ukactive. 

Tara Dillon, CIMSPA CEO commented: 

"I'm pleased to see Raising the Bar 2018 recognise the significant progress made by CIMSPA and our partners and the wholehearted support of the industry's operators," says Tara Dillon, CIMSPA CEO. "It's now essential that we measure the impact of the employer-led changes that we at CIMSPA will drive on their behalf. This way we can help answer the industry's call for a more highly skilled workforce, capable of engaging and dealing with the diverse needs of our society." 

Read on for a summary of this important work and to access the full report. 


Raising the Bar Report 2018 reveals a leisure industry ready for change

The active leisure industry is ready for change, willing to support the Government’s drive towards a healthier nation and determined to raise the standard of skills across the workforce. These are the key findings in the Raising the Bar Report 2018, produced by Future Fit Training and supported by ukactive.

For the first time, the annual Raising the Bar Report was launched at an industry dinner on May 16, hosted by Future Fit Training. Forty leading operators and industry experts joined Future Fit, ukactive and CIMSPA to have first sight of the report, discuss its key outcomes and debate next steps to future-proof the industry.

“Our Raising the Bar launch brought together some of the most influential operators to speak openly about the challenges our industry faces and the opportunities we have,” says Rob Johnson, Future Fit Training Managing Director.

Raising the Bar 2018 reveals that UK leisure operators are more united than ever behind the initiatives proposed by ukactive and CIMSPA. However, there is still a long way to go in terms of training provision, assessment of fitness professionals and upskilling. The report shows an overwhelming consensus amongst sector employers with 73% of employers believing that personal training qualifications and assessments should take no less than six months to be completed plus:

  • 100% of operators believe the CIMSPA professional standards for fitness will have a positive impact on raising the quality of Personal Trainers entering the industry.
  • 92% of employers provide additional training to ensure fitness staff are work ready.
  • 87% of respondents said that candidates are entering the sector with unrealistic expectations; this posed a recurring issue when looking to recruit high-quality staff.

Skills gaps

Recruiting and retaining high-quality fitness staff continues to be a consistent and recurring challenge faced by employers in the physical activity sector. The above findings are complemented by a range of common skills gaps that have been identified in every iteration of Raising the Bar over the last four years. Newly qualified professionals lack commercial acumen (cited by 78% of respondents), social skills (74%) and behaviour change skills (74%). Respondents indicated that these issues can be solved through a more robust, comprehensive and employer-focused approach to initial training and development.

Engaging disabled people

Raising the Bar 2018 explored the ability and readiness of professionals to engage disabled people in physical activity. Currently amongst the least active people in society – disabled people are almost twice as likely to be inactive as non-disabled people. The report highlights that the physical activity sector is not currently representative enough to effectively engage and train disabled people.

Confidence in the industry’s ability to engage with disabled people must be improved:

  • 86% of the Report’s respondents don’t believe most exercise professionals are adequately trained to work with disabled people.
  • 61% of operators don’t know what percentage of their membership is disabled.

The future generation

UK children are the least active generation in history, harming their physical and mental health, educational attainment, and increasing their risk of becoming inactive adults. The Government has reaffirmed its commitment to tackling childhood inactivity but facilitating and delivering these opportunities requires appropriately qualified physical activity professionals.

Raising the Bar 2018 shows there is still progress to be made:

  • 86% of respondents don’t believe fitness professionals are adequately equipped to work with children.
  • 59% believe working with children should be included as standard in the personal trainer qualification.
  • 55% say it’s a priority for their organisation over the next five years to engage with more children but 60% aren’t clear to what extent their fitness professionals can do this.

Expert views

“Raising the Bar 2018 is our most thorough report to date, consulting with more fitness operators and industry experts on more topics than ever before,” says Rob Johnson, Future Fit Training Managing Director. “We have seen great progress in attitudes and willingness to implement change since our last report but recruiting and retaining high-quality fitness staff continues to be a challenge for employers. CIMSPA, ukactive, awarding organisations, training providers and employers must now come together to address these skills gaps to further professionalise the industry workforce.’’

“We share Future Fit’s vision of a world-class, highly professionalised physical activity workforce, and supporting its development is a key priority for ukactive and its members,” says Steve Ward, ukactive CEO. “Although this report lays bare some significant challenges for the sector and there is still more to be done, Raising the Bar 2018 has charted the substantial progress made by CIMSPA, employers and other organisations across the sector toward realising our ambitions. It is now imperative that we translate this progress and support to the frontline.” 

About Raising The Bar

Each year the compilation of Raising The Bar provides an opportunity for Chief Executives, Human Resources Managers, and Training and People Development Managers from across the industry to share their expertise and experience regarding the current state of their front-line workforce, identifying areas where they excel, and where the industry should turn its focus next to support their ongoing professionalisation. Future Fit Training and ukactive collected data from a diverse range of leisure operators, representing a total of over 45,000 fitness employees. This was supplemented by several expert consultations with senior organisation leaders.