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SkillsActive Launch Consultation to Establish National Sports Training Standards

SkillsActive, the Sector Skills Council for sport and recreation, last week launched an industry-wide consultation to develop national occupational standards for sports officials in the UK. The profession currently has no centralised governing body in place responsible for the training, education and development of officials ““ these duties are carried out on an individual basis by each sport’s National Governing Body (NGB).

Over the course of the next six months, SkillsActive will be holding regional and UK-wide consultations inviting submissions to address some of the common problems and recruitment issues encountered by sport and share examples of good practice in relation to the training and development of referees, umpires, stewards and judges with the aim of establishing a new national framework.

Once this process is complete, Sports Officials UK (SOUK), a group of representatives from a small number of NGBs hope to be recognised as the organisation responsible for representing and supporting officials across all sports throughout the UK.

Training Programmes for Universal Qualifications

The SOUK, in cooperation with a number of NGBs, have developed a series of generic training programmes which it is hoped will become standard within the officiating profession across the majority of sports and establish universally recognised qualifications. The scheme is based upon five draft national occupational standards that have been developed over the past two years with the support of the Football Association, Rugby Football Union, Rugby Football League, Lawn Tennis Association, as well as representatives from badminton, swimming, netball, athletics, triathlon, squash and motor sports.

SkillsActive and Improving Professionalism

Steve Mitchell, SkillsActive’s entry to the workforce manager, spoke of the positive effect a national generic framework would have in promoting the professionalism of the industry: “This is a real chance for the sports industry to have, for the first time ever, a set of National Occupational Standards that are accepted and agreed by a wide-range of sports, across the UK.”

He went on to say: “It will also provide a framework to which National Governing Bodies of Sport can further promote officiating as a viable career option, as well as highlighting volunteering opportunities.

“Promoting officiating as a valued job role, a professional or Sunday morning club volunteer is equally as important. People forget that without a referee, umpire or judge, sport just wouldnt take place. Theres never been a better time to get involved in officiating, with the recent announcement about London 2012, the sports industry is completely buzzing, all Olympic and Paralympic sports need officials too!”

Andy Melrose, training and education officer for Rugby Football Development Ltd, believes developing National Occupational Standards is vital to attract more people into officiating: “Standards for officiating gives the role greater credibility within the sports, which then leads to more recruitment and retention not just of referees but also of administrators within officiating.”

To find out more or to take part in the consultation process please click here.

Michael Lloyd

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