The recent government backing given to several new vocational qualifications for 16-19 year olds preparing for a career in the physical activity sector, has been widely well-received by those in the industry and marks a key development in our Active Pathway for students.
The Department for Education (DfE) approval of Active IQ’s Level 3 Technical Diploma and Level 2 Technical Certificate in Physical Activity, Fitness and Exercise Science will see the inclusion of these qualifications in the 2018 16-19 performance tables, and the Level 3 Diploma has also been accepted onto the new UCAS Tariff for progression to higher education from first entry 2017.
This latest development of professional and technical training for 16-18 year olds is a significant achievement for Active IQ, given that vocational qualifications have been the focus of enormous change over the past 18 months, affecting the entire further education landscape.
At a time when the design principles of the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF) have been withdrawn, making way for the new Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), professional and technical education has suffered over the recent past due to the confusion around a standard definition of Guided Learning Hours (GLH), contributing to the pressure the active leisure sector has come under in terms of quality.
Training providers choosing to promote the cheapest, fastest courses with no face-to-face interaction or tutor support has resulted in lesser-skilled graduates without the ‘soft skills’. They also miss out on meaningful engagement with peers, tutors and coaches who inspire and motivate the next generation of physical activity professionals. The very reasonable expectation to utilise technology in place of people has increased this downward pressure, with online learning getting a bad name, and a balance has to be found
The minimum GLH is soon to be clarified by way of consultation with the industry and training providers alike for key market entry qualifications (that is, the amount of real time teaching experienced on a Personal training qualification for example). By the end of 2017 it will be compulsory for all training providers to meet this minimum requirement in order to be compliant with awarding organisation (and Ofqual) requirements. New training providers wishing to enter the market place will only be successful if they are also aiming to offer the highest quality teaching and learning experience.
In these changing times, Active IQ is committed to upholding high quality vocational qualifications that provide a clear line of sight to gainful employment. By taking on board feedback of employers and training providers, we’ve ensured our new Tech Cert and Tech Level qualifications cover a range of career pathways. These include Exercise and Fitness, Health and Wellbeing, Leisure Operations, Physical Activity and Management.
These diplomas, available to students as part of a two year college study programme, provide learners with a broad base of knowledge and skills to be able to work in a variety of customer-facing roles within the active leisure industry, including fitness instructing, personal training and leisure operation as well as being able to access higher education degree programmes.
Learners completing Active IQ Technical qualifications can feel assured that they’ve committed to a course that supplies them with all the soft-skills essential to their future employers, and in turn we help to provide leisure operators with skilled, high calibre graduates that are ready to hit the ground running.
Fitness is now recognised as a cradle to grave spectrum, encompassing physical activity, exercise in both formal and non-formal settings, from walking to work, through dance to sports and performance coaching. Employment opportunities in active leisure have never been stronger and our rigorous vocational qualifications are key to the future success of this vibrant and growing industry.
Sarah Edmonds is Director of Quality and Standards at Active IQ, the UK’s leading Ofqual recognised Awarding Organisation for the Active Leisure, Learning and Wellbeing Sector.