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SkillsActive Roll Out Nationwide Sports Apprenticeship Scheme

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In 2004, a number of Young Apprenticeship (YA) schemes were set up with funding from the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) for 14-16 years olds, their aim being to address the issue of school leavers entering the working world under-qualified and under-skilled.

Now, after a successful first year, SkillsActive has announced that the Young Apprenticeship programme in sports management, leadership and coaching is expanding to cover a number of regions across England. The move has been approved by the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) and will be set up between schools, specialist sports colleges and local employers. The programme works alongside the national curriculum, offering students vocational training whilst they also continue with their core studies.

This means that up to 320 students will be able to take part in the YA scheme for the sport and active leisure sector. The rolling out of the programme across the country has been heralded as excellent news by SkillsActive’s YA development officer, Katie Couchman, who says: “YAs are now an England-wide initiative which provides us with the opportunity to develop the specific skills employers in the sector are asking for, at a young age on a much larger scale.”

A “win-win situation”

Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Tessa Jowell has also welcomed the move, saying: “Young people up and down the country are now taking advantage of Young Apprenticeships, which affords them valuable experience in the work place. It’s a win-win situation- employers benefit from better skills coming on stream and young people benefit from increased opportunity to gain meaningful employment”¦”

Tessa Jowell believes that the YAs will also have a positive effect in the build up to both the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, saying: Young Apprenticeships in sports management, leadership and coaching will help ensure that there are enough coaches, officials, trainers and stewards- and that we can deliver a lasting legacy in 2012 and beyond.”

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Employers Urged to Join the Programme

As the apprenticeships gain country-wide momentum, SkillsActive Chief Executive Stephen Studd is urging national employers across England to join up to the programme. He believes that sector employers need to get involved in order to helps shape the skills of the future workforce saying: “I am constantly speaking with employers who are concerned about the calibre of skilled and qualified job seekers. With the young Apprenticeship programme, we can start to address some of their concerns and ensure the sport and the active leisure sector has a workforce equipped to deal with employers”, and ultimately, the public’s needs.”

To emphasise that the Young Apprenticeships are working across various sectors, Stephen Studd adds that SkillsActive currently have a student on a business administration YA working in their offices every Friday- proof that the schemes can provide real opportunities for young people to get involved and learn practical skills in the workplace, giving them a much broader range of options should they decide not to stay on at school beyond 16 years old.

Joel Goldman

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