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Northern Ireland's first ever seminar for the health and fitness industry will be held this week. On Friday 5th May, Lisburns Leisureplex will host this event, a joint venture between the Chief Leisure Officers Association (CLOA) and SkillsActive.

This event is aimed at everyone working within the health and leisure industry. Staff at all levels are encouraged to attend to encourage the sharing of fresh ideas and techniques to ultimately improve skill levels and personal development within the sector. This is shown in the SkillsActive mission statement.

By taking responsibility for raising training standards, the industry itself can take control of its future and ensure a positive image of the sector is seen by the public. People want to be certain that they are being looked after by practical and knowledgeable staff they can trust.

Training and Development Needs

One aim of the seminar is to gain an insight into the type of training and development processes the industry needs. These ideas can in turn be built on to offer beneficial and effective training programmes which are straightforward to deliver at all levels in various settings.

Siobhan Wier, Programme Manager for SkillsActive described some of the benefits the event has to offer, saying: "The seminar demonstrates the collective approach the industry is making towards improving skills development and training. We want the public to realise that when they enter a leisure centre, or swim in a hotel pool, the instructors and lifeguards have been through rigorous training and are fully qualified to work with them in a safe and fun manner.

"The seminar is aimed at anyone who cares about the industry and its future development," Siobhan continued, "and I would encourage all likeminded people to come along and take part in the event." The event encourages people from across the Northern Ireland sectors to take responsibility for their own development and the improvement of the industry on a wider scale. Workers should find the seminar useful through the sharing of ideas and through actively participating in discussing development approaches within the health and fitness professions.

Excellent Opportunity

SkillsActive is the Sector Skills Council (SSC) Sports and Recreation, Health and Fitness, Playwork, The Outdoors and the Caravan industries. The SSC is employer led and strives to ensure companies continually encourage skills development. Through taking this responsibility and contributing to training SSC organisations may benefit from public investment and the opportunity to liase and carry more weight with the government.

Jim Rose from the CLOA described how the event is great for the future of the health and fitness industry, saying: "The seminar is an excellent opportunity for the active leisure industry to be part of the strategic development of the sector. The event will allow us to consider various options for multi-skilling our workforce and provide us with a better understanding of how we can use occupational standards to improve the recruitment and retention of staff."

This suggestion that delivering successful skills development programmes is also crucial for employee retention and for recruitment is supported by the SkillsActive mission statement which is "To ensure best quality, best business and best value within the Sector to achieve its economic and social potential."

Mark Feakes, Sports Education Correspondent

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