Rhian Pearce, Exercise Council Wales Development Manager
                      December 2007

CONTENTS                                                               PAGE

1.0   Introduction                                                     3
      1.1    Policy Context                                            3
      1. 2   Exercise and Fitness Developments in Wales                3

2.0   Profile of the Health and Fitness Industry in Wales              6

3.0   Profile of Torfaen Local Authority Area                          7
      3.1    Geography                                                 7
      3.2    Demography                                                8
      3.3    Employment                                                9
      3.4    Health and Wellbeing                                      9
      3.5    Physical Activity Levels                                  11
      3.6    Health and Fitness Activities                             11

4.0   Workforce Development Planning                                   13
      4.1    Aim of This Project                                       13
      4.2    Methodology                                               15

5.0   Research Findings and Recommendations                            16
      5.1    Industry Drivers in Torfaen                               16
      5.2    Skills Analysis of the Health and Fitness Workforce       19
      5.3    Recruitment and Retention                                 26
      5.4    Pay and Conditions                                        30
      5.5    Training and Career Development                           34
      5.6    Future Fitness Workforce Needs                            40

6.0   Conclusion                                                       44

Appendix 1 Workforce Development Costings

Appendix 2 Background information on SkillsActive and the Register of Exercise

1.0 Introduction

1.1   Policy Context

      The promotion of physical activity is a theme throughout a wide range of
      strategies and policies in Wales since there is substantial evidence to indicate
      that being regularly physically active plays a key role in keeping people healthier.
      Current participation statistics suggest that only a third of Welsh adults currently
      undertake enough exercise to meet the recommended guidelines and worryingly
      45% of the nation is inactive (Sport Council Wales, 2005). The Welsh Assembly
      Government has made a clear policy commitment to improve these poor physical
      activity levels by producing ‘Climbing Higher’ (2005) its first strategy for sport and
      recreation.      It aims to tackle the nation’s inactivity over the next 20 years and it
      has set the challenge to achieve an annual increase of at least one percentage
      point per annum in adult physical activity participation.

      These ambitious targets are key drivers for the Active Leisure and Learning
      sector and consequently increase the demand for a qualified and competent
      workforce to promote physical activity and motivate the nation to increase their

1. 2 Exercise and Fitness Developments in Wales

      The heightened public awareness of low physical activity levels and health and
      well-being issues has led to a significant growth in the exercise and fitness
      industry in Wales. Both public and private sector organisations have invested in
      new clubs/facilities across the Principality and the Welsh public have recently
      voted the gym, aerobics and circuit training within their 10 most popular
      sports/activities (Sports Council Wales, 2005).

      The advancing consumer trends in fitness, along with public investment in
      interventions such as exercise referral schemes and aqua-exercise has
      diversified the demands within the fitness industry and it has increased the

requirement for higher skilled human resources to deliver a high-quality service
across Wales.

In response to this need to develop and expand a well-trained and highly skilled
fitness workforce across Wales, SkillsActive and the Sports Council for Wales
established a new fitness organisation called Exercise Council Wales (ECW).
ECW was founded in 2005 as a national, strategic stakeholder body to promote
and support workforce development for the health and fitness sector. The Welsh
Assembly Government and the Sports Council for Wales funded a Development
Manager for ECW and also supported the employment of a Welsh Register
Officer for the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) thereby creating a ‘one-
stop shop for exercise and fitness in Wales1.

The ECW was formed with representation from: public/private sector employers;
training providers (private, Further Education, Higher Education); the voluntary
sector; and other key stakeholders. Their key role was to act as a strategic forum
to direct the workplan of the ECW and to act as a conduit to relay information to
and from their networks.

The       Development          Manager         was       charged        with   engaging   with
employers/stakeholders across Wales to assess the national and local issues that
were affecting the development of the fitness workforce. Following extensive
consultation across Wales, the following were identified as current issues:

      -   Poor access to quality-assured training
      -   Difficulties with recruiting and retaining qualified instructors
      -   Low awareness of career pathways and continued professional
          development (CPD)
      -   Need to upskill exercise professionals from level 2 to level 3 to support
          the national exercise referral project.
      -   Limited public funding for fitness qualifications/CPD


For more information on SkillsActive and REPs, please see Appendix 1.

Having identified these wide ranging problems that were facing the development
of the health and fitness workforce in Wales, the ECW committee instructed the
Development Manager to focus the ECW work programme on two workforce
development pilot projects. The first aim of this process was to practically assist
employers to establish their local workforce needs and identify solutions to impact
changes in their workforce development. The second aim was to identify key
themes/processes that emerged from both pilots and utilise them to create a
model/toolkit that would promote and assist with workforce development planning
for the health and fitness sector across the rest of Wales and the UK. ECW
secured the support of Conwy and Torfaen local authorities to become the pilot
sites for the North and South of the country.

This report will outline the findings from the project that was carried out in Torfaen
and it will discuss the issues that are affecting the development of the fitness
workforce in that area.

Note: For the purposes of this report the terms exercise professional, fitness
instructor, and fitness staff will be used interchangeably to describe the fitness
workforce. It will include occupations related to instructing exercise either on a
one-to-one basis within the gym environment or instructing group exercise within
a class environment, eg aerobics, Yoga.

2.0 Profile of the Health and Fitness Industry in Wales

    The fitness industry has recently experienced a healthy growth in terms of clubs,
    memberships, penetration rates and market value across the UK. Almost 90% of
    the UK population live within two miles of a private or public health and fitness
    facility and 12% of the UK population have become a member of a public/private
    club in 2006 (FIA State of the UK Fitness Industry Report, 2007).

    The Welsh Health and Fitness industry contributes around £20 million to the
    national economy (Experian, 2004) and the growing demand for fitness clubs has
    been reflected in both private and public sector expansion across Wales. The
    private sector has around 120 000 members across 105 clubs (FIA State of the
    UK Fitness Industry Report, 2007) and it is estimated that there are around 180
    public sector fitness facilities now available across Wales.

    The Health and Fitness sub sector contributes 5% to the total Active Leisure and
    Learning employment in Wales (Experian, 2005) and these 1600 jobs range from
    fitness professionals to club receptionists. Labour market intelligence from REPs
    has identified around 800 exercise professionals operating across Wales during
    2007 and it is estimated that there may be another 200-300 that are working in
    Wales but have yet to professionally register.

    SkillsActive research (Skills Needs Assessment, 2006) has identified a noticeable
    trend in this sector towards part-time employment with nearly double the
    proportion of part time workers compared to the Welsh average (43% vs 23%);
    this is also significantly higherUK average for the fitness in. Consequently, full
    time employment opportunities in the fitness industry tend to be less than the
    national average (46 % vs 65%) and may present a recruitment challenge for the

    A large proportion of employment within Health and Fitness is situated within
    micro businesses and small organisations, with 79% of fitness workplaces
    employing less than ten people and only 3% employing more than fifty people

    (SkillsActive, 2005). Small and medium enterprises (SME) in the fitness sector
    make a valued contribution to the participation agenda and these smaller,
    intimate clubs are often more appealing to many consumers than the larger
    gyms/facilities. Despite their obvious importance within the sector, it is frequently
    difficult to engage with these employers and secure their participation at
    meetings/consultations due to several reasons. Firstly, in the absence of any
    distinct umbrella body to represent them, it is difficult to identify these businesses
    and where they are situated and they often do not want to sacrifice time away
    from their business to be part of the network. As an employer-led organisation,
    further work needs to be conducted by SkillsActive to establish the most effective
    way to engage with these businesses to ensure that we are representing their
    views and meeting their workforce needs.

    Therefore, for the purposes of this project the research was focused on the larger
    public sector organisations due to an ease of access from existing working
    relationships. There is an acknowledgement that, in the future, this research
    needs to be extended to SMEs to establish their particular challenges with
    workforce development.

3.0 Profile of Torfaen Local Authority Area

3.1 Geography

    Torfaen County Borough covers an area of around 12,500 hectares (31,000
    acres) and has a great variety of landscape varying from rural to urban
    environments. The eastern side of the valley in Mid Torfaen has a medieval field
    system and an ancient semi natural woodland and the southern landscape is low
    lying and dominated by more traditional agricultural fields (Torfaen Health, Social
    Care and Wellbeing Strategy, 2005).

    The north of the borough is characterised by the past exploitation of coal and iron
    in these valleys and it now comprises of derelict buildings in post industrial lands.

   Pontypool and Blaenavon towns were founded as a consequence of the rise of
   these industries and the population of Torfaen grew during the industrial
   revolution. The twentieth century, however, saw a decline of these industries and
   this led to an out-migration of populations from these valley communities. In the
   present day, there is significant historic importance attached to these areas,
   particularly those which lie within the Blaenavon Industrial Landscape, a World
   Heritage Site.

   The south of the borough has been the focus of development since the
   designation of the Cwmbran New Town in 1949 and a new economic base is
   being established in Torfaen in service-related industries. Currently, most
   employment opportunities centre around Pontypool and Cwmbran due to the
   proximity to the M4 motorway and decent road access.

3.2 Demography

   Torfaen is the sixth smallest of the 22 local authority (LA) areas with a population
   of around 90,300 persons (Office for National Statistics, 2005). However, Torfaen
   is the third most densely populated LA area in Wales, behind Cardiff and
   Newport, with 7.2 people per hectare, which is significantly above the Welsh
   average of 1.4 (Office for National Statistics, 2001). This position as a relatively
   densely populated LA area may reflect the fact that many of the other LA areas
   have large rural areas.

   The population of Torfaen been relatively stable over the past 10 years or so with
   an estimated 1.1 % decrease between 1995 and 2005; this is the equivalent of an
   average annual decrease of 100 people across all age groups (Office for National
   Statistics, 2005).   The population structure in Torfaen is similar to that of Wales,
   with persons aged less than 25 years representing 31.3 % of the local population
   and those aged 65 and older contributing 17.5 % of the Torfaen total.

   The proportion of older people in the Welsh population has been steadily rising
   over the past 25 years and, with a steadily decreasing birth rate, is likely to
   continue rising in the future (National Assembly for Wales, 2004). This national

      trend is reflected in Torfaen where there has been a 4.4% decrease in the under-
      15 population and a 5.8% increase in the population over retirement age between
      1992 and 2002 (Office for National Statistics, 2002). It is forecasted that these
      demographic changes will continue over the next 20 years and the number of
      people of retirement age will increase by 11 per cent across Wales. These
      predicted demographic changes in Torfaen will alter the overall balance of the
      population and it is very likely to increase the future demands on the health and
      social care services in the area. Accordingly, the decrease in the proportion of
      economically active young people in Torfaen will negatively impact on the ability
      to finance these services.

3.3   Employment

      Torfaen is ninth lowest of the 22 LA areas for unemployment and it has a
      relatively active economy with unemployment being slightly lower than the
      national average (5.6 % and 5.7 % respectively) (Torfaen Health, Social Care and
      Wellbeing Strategy, 2005). Those who were not in employment are divided
      between those who are unemployed (the minority) and the economically inactive
      (the majority). Torfaen has higher levels of Incapacity benefits claimants
      compared to Wales with 13 % of its working age population receiving these
      benefits compared to 5.6 % claiming Jobseekers Allowance (Office for National
      Statistics, 2004).

      Torfaen has lower proportion of the population who have never worked than the
      all-Wales average but it has fewer residents classified as managerial and
      professional or intermediate compared to the Wales average. Also, there are
      more Torfaen residents with occupations classified as Routine and Manual
      compared the average across Wales (Office for National Statistics, 2004).

3.4 Health and Wellbeing in Torfaen

      On average across Wales, mortality rates for all causes of death are falling
      indicating that people are now living longer, however the average rates across the

South Wales Valleys were significantly higher than across the whole of Wales.
Torfaen is not significantly different to the Welsh average and is ranked 11 out of
the 22 LA areas. Although, analysis at the ward level show that there is variation
across Torfaen with three areas amongst the highest in Wales (Torfaen Health,
Social Care and Well being Needs Assessment, 2005).

There are many factors that impact directly on the health of both individuals and
communities and deprivation has a significant effect. The higher the deprivation
the higher the prevalence of risk factors such as physical inactivity, smoking,
obesity and lack of a healthy diet which all contribute to poor health. Of the 24
wards in Torfaen, 8 are amongst the most deprived fifth of all the wards in Wales
(HIAT, 2005); 31 per cent of the Torfaen population are residents in these wards
and this presents important implications for the geographical targeting of physical
activity interventions across Torfaen.

As across the rest of Wales, one of the most common causes of death is diseases
of the circulatory system, which include stroke, heart attack, coronary heart
disease and heart failure. Torfaen has a rate of 241per 100 000 population
compared to a Wales average 256 per 100 000 and this ranks Torfaen as the 8th
lowest of the 22 LA areas. These diseases also cause a high burden of serious
and chronic disability within Torfaen with 10% of the resident population having
received treatment for heart disease which is higher than the average rate for
Wales of 9.7% (Welsh Health Survey, 2005).

There is a high proportion of the older population (aged 65 years and older) in
Torfaen who are coping with Long Term conditions and Torfaen is ranked sixth
highest of the 22 areas in Wales. 60% of this population have reported a limiting
long-term illness which is a higher proportion than the Welsh average. The
prevalence of these conditions indicates a need to work closely with the Long
Term Conditions Team within the Local Health Board to plan physical activity
interventions for prevention and amelioration purposes.

3.5 Physical activity levels

     Lifestyles choices will greatly influence health and wellbeing and increasing levels
     of physical activity is an important intervention to reduce the risk of developing
     diseases such as heart disease or cancer. The Sports Council for Wales
     participation data (2005) compares all of the LAs across Wales and the indicates
     that the proportion of the population who participate in sufficient physical activity
     to benefit their health, ie 30 minutes of moderate activity, 5 times a week. In
     Torfaen, only 22% of adults are sufficiently active, which is lower than the Welsh
     average of 34% and ranks Torfaen as having the 8th lowest physical activity levels
     in Wales. More worryingly is the fact that 56% of Torfaen adults are completely
     inactive, which compares to a Welsh average of 45%; this presents negative
     implications for the health status of the borough.

3.6 Health and Fitness Activities

 o There is a good breadth of local authority leisure facilities across Torfaen with 4
     leisure centres and a ski centre spread across the borough. The Bowden Active
     Living Centre was opened in July 2007and it is the newest facility providing a
     sports hall and dance/class studio which is shared between the local community
     and the adjacent school.

 o The centre at Pontypool had seen a recent £7 million refurbishment to refresh the
     décor and facilities and become the Active Living Centre. This new centre has
     expanded its services from the traditional sports activities to a wide range of
     health and wellbeing services; including hosting midwifery services.

 o Prior to this, Cwmbran Stadium received £5 million of investment in 2000 to
     modernise and expand the facilities. The recent closure of Blaenavon Leisure
     Centre in the north of the borough is likely to cause access issues for many of
     these residents but plans are afoot to build a new school/leisure site in the near

o All of the council-run leisure facilities offer health and fitness activities and at the
   time of writing, there was an average of 1450 members across the borough and
   the monthly usage figures for Cwmbran Stadium were 4190 compared with 4136
   for Pontypool Active Living Centre.

o The activities within the facilities varied from a range of gym-based sessions for
   adults and children to an extensive selection of classes such as: yoga, Pilates,
   spin, aerobics, Body Pump, Tai Chi, aqua aerobics etc

o Torfaen also had a well established exercise on referral scheme called ‘Exercise
   for Life’, that had received over 800 referrals from local doctor’s surgeries since
   1999. With the advent of the Welsh Assembly Government investing £4 million
   into exercise referral interventions across Wales, Torfaen was reconfiguring their
   scheme to comply with the national protocol and were expecting to receive new
   referrals in early 2008.

o The 2003 Wanless review of Health and Social Care concluded that current
   services across Wales were not working as well as they could, which in turn
   meant that local people were not always receiving the best care and support that
   they could. In response to the recommendations from this report, monies were
   available from the Welsh Assembly Government to support new programmes of
   work that would address new models of service delivery. These monies funded
   projects in Torfaen aimed at providing exercise for older adults, children and
   young people and youth offending teams.

o Outside of leisure centres, there were significant levels of activity within schools
   and communities. Instructors were supported by the New Opportunities Fund to
   provide Kidsfit classes in local schools which was very successful in engaging the
   non-sporty children into activity. Cwmbran Centre for Young People also had
   fitness facilities, which were well used by the local users.

o Outreach work to provide exercise opportunities had been targeted in the Local
   Community First areas via monies from the Sports Council for Wales and the
   Walking the Way to Health initiative. Also, exercise interventions aimed at people

     with Long Term Conditions were being provided in the community by the Local
     Health Board and the cardiac phase IV group, Pontypool Pacers.

 o   In addition to the public sector facilities in Torfaen there are approximately 4
     private sector health and fitness facilities across the borough; one club is part of a
     major UK chain and the remaining are small businesses.

 o   The popularity of Health and Fitness within Torfaen is evident in research that
     has found that local residents voted the gym (12% of men, 5% of women)
     aerobics (4% of women) and circuit training (2% of women) within their top ten
     preferred physical activities (SCW, 2005).

 o   The same SCW data also suggested that latent demand is higher in Torfaen than
     in any other valleys authority apart from Merthyr (43% and 46% respectively).
     Demand is much higher than the national average, placing Torfaen among the
     highest scoring authorities in Wales.

 o Local males indicated that they would like to take part in gym-related activities
     (7%), whilst females also wanted to try the gym (9%), aerobics (9%), and yoga
     (6%) This data clearly displays that there is a market for fitness activities in this
     area and a growth in provision of these activities could further promote physical
     activity levels.

4.0 Workforce Development Planning

4.1 Aim of this project

     This project was initiated to assist Torfaen County Borough Council to create a
     Workforce Development Plan for its fitness workforce. A Workforce Development
     Plan is a plan that “identifies where an organisation is in terms of developing the
     skills of its staff, where it wants to go and how it intends to get there.” (Skills
     Active, 2005).

This involved recognition of current skill levels of the workforce and identifying any
skills gaps or shortages that need addressing to improve the confidence and
competency of the workforce.

The benefits of successful Workforce Development planning include:
•    Improved skills and knowledge, motivation, attitudes and career options
•    Reduced paid-staff turnover
•    Reduced business costs
•    Good publicity and marketing for the organisation
•    Improved attitudes towards staff
•    More people wanting to be involved with the organisation
•    Achieving targets

SkillsActive has developed the following process for Workforce Development
Planning and this model was used during this project:

                         Stage Six                             Stage One
                         Evaluation                         Identify need and

      Stage Five                                                                    Stage Two
    Implementation                                                                Organisational
    and monitoring                                                                Needs Analysis

                        Stage Four                             Stage Three
                        Workforce                          Organisational needs
                     Development Plan                           summary

4.2 Methodology

    This project followed the aforementioned workforce development planning
    process and the aim of the research was to collect the following information which
    would be used to construct an action plan:

                         - exercise professionals’ qualifications
                         - skills gaps and solutions
                         - recruitment and retention strategies
                         - workforce requirements to support an expansion of fitness
                         activities to meet Climbing Higher targets.
                         - current access to fitness training
                         - solutions to improve supply of appropriate training.
                         - sources of funding to assist upskilling.

    Several informal interviews were held with fitness staff within the Torfaen Leisure
    Department and questionnaires were created with assistance from the Sports
    Council for Wales’ Research and Evaluation Unit. These were distributed to the
    fitness staff and leisure managers across Torfaen County Borough Council.

    Approximately 30 exercise professionals were employed on casual contracts to
    provide group exercise classes across the borough and these were often at
    unsociable hours. Due to the potential difficulties in getting responses, the
    questionnaires weren’t distributed to this group and instead the Group Exercise
    Coordinator consulted with them on an individual basis and collated their
    feedback. Of the 5 leisure centre managers, 3 returned completed questionnaires
    and 15 out of the 21 gym-based exercise professionals responded.

    The data from the questionnaires and interviews was augmented by a structured
    focus group day that was held to elicit more in depth information. The day was
    attended by 19 multidisciplinary delegates ranging from exercise professionals
    and leisure managers to representatives from the health sector, education sector
    (private and further education providers) and the Sports Council for Wales. The

      sessions were facilitated by an external consultant and the findings of the day
      were compiled into a report which has fed into this paper.

      The subsequent section of this report will discuss the findings from this research
      and it will outline recommendations to improve workforce development in Torfaen.

5.0 Research Findings

5.1   Industry Drivers in Torfaen

 o It was perceived that health, fitness and physical participation issues were
      generally higher on “people’s radars” than it was 3-4 years ago. Health Challenge
      Wales was seen to have played a key role in raising pubic awareness.

 o A key and very positive driver in terms of participation was felt to be that GPs
      were more actively encouraging exercise to overcome health issues and referrals
      to exercise had created a good link between the leisure and health sector.

 o It was felt that a key strength in Torfaen was that it: “already has a lot of good stuff
      going on in the community” and that there was an opportunity to build on this by
      increasing the “pace and scale” of activities.

 o However, this breadth of choice of activities had in some instances led to an
      element of over-complication and it was deemed to have caused “confusion in the
      market place”.

 o There was concern that physical activity opportunities can often be “overly supply-
      driven”, especially in Community First areas where additional funding enables
      extra activities. The value of this intensive spatial targeting towards areas of
      deprivation was debated and whilst it was agreed that attitudes and behaviour
      patterns needed to be changed, it was acknowledged to be a difficult challenge.

    A demand-based approach was suggested as the way forward, so services would
    be provided based on what the public wanted.

o   Further to the above, there was an expressed need to make much greater use of
    research and ‘market intelligence’ to target interventions aimed at increasing
    participation, especially data from the Sports Council for Wales (SCW).

o The impending Climbing Higher Partnership Agreements (CHPA) with the Sports
    Council for Wales was seen to provide a framework for action and a greater focus
    for collaborative activity across Torfaen.   Torfaen was identified as being in the
    first phase of the roll out of these agreements across Wales.

o These agreements would be the main overarching partnership document between
    the SCW and the local authority (LA) and would consolidate all existing
    agreements with the purpose of increasing physical activity levels.

o Underpinning the CHPA will be a 3 year action plan which will follow the SCW
    delivery menu of Active Young People / Active Communities and Performance
    and Excellence. Each of the programme areas will have clear outputs as well as
    softer measures of success such as inter departmental working.

o Initiatives being funded on short term cycles were felt to be a key threat in
    developing the workforce since the lack of continuity and insecurity of short term
    contracts were a disincentive to remaining in the sector.

o The existing public transport infrastructure was identified as a barrier to using
    some of Torfaen’s leisure facilities, although by the same token it was also seen
    as an opportunity for people to walk and cycle to facilities.

o Communication and marketing was seen as a weakness in Torfaen, in terms of a
    co-ordinated approach across the county and across various aspects of service
    provision.   This was seen as a barrier to making more progress in engaging
    disaffected groups.

o A key point that emerged was in relation to a level of “confusion of purpose” of the
   health and fitness provision in public sector facilities and a need for additional
   “clarity in terms of policy direction”.

                “the quasi-competitive nature of Leisure Centres on the one hand
                means increasing expectations in terms of income targets; whilst on the
                other hand we’re being told to give away more for free as part of the
                social agenda”. Focus Group Participant

o On a separate note, it was identified that despite investment into new facilities in
   the borough, that there wasn’t always an ongoing budget for renewal of
   equipment. As a result, one of the gyms was operating with below par equipment
   and technical assistance was needed for maintenance.


   Develop a physical activity/fitness strategy:
   There is a clear need for a strategic direction for the provision of health and
   fitness services across Torfaen and the pending CHPA/action plan with the SCW
   will contribute towards addressing these needs.            The specific workforce
   development needs of the fitness staff should be built into the action plan.

    It is essential that the strategy/agreement for action takes a multi agency
   approach and that there is commitment form a variety of sectors, not just the local
   authority.    The Physical Activity Collaboration in Torfaen (PACT) group is a
   representative committee of multi-disciplinary partners who are committed to
   coordinating Physical Activity across Torfaen. Work has already been conducted
   on a mapping exercise and this group should be integral to any future work
   moving forward.

   This strategy also needs to focus on the development of effective marketing and

     communication techniques within the leisure departments marketing team and
     across partner organisations to promote positive messages relating to Health and
     Fitness participation/activities.

     Utilise Local Research:
     Linked to the above, it is recommended that the during the planning process, the
     Sports Council for Wales research for Torfaen is utilised alongside other local
     intelligence to balance the supply of health and fitness activities with evidence-
     based demand where possible.

5.2 Skills Analysis of the Health and Fitness Workforce in Torfaen

 o At the time of research (August 2007) Torfaen County Borough Council employed
     33 class instructors and around 15 gym-based instructors across their facilities- 5
     of these instructors worked across both gym and classes.

 o   Given its size this workforce has a big task to provide health and fitness services
     across the borough and make an impact on participation levels when its capacity
     equates to one instructor per 2000 of the population.

 o Torfaen CBC had registered 21 of their staff with REPs and developments were
     underway to register the remaining fitness staff. This professional registration
     would provide a quality assurance to the employer and the public that the exercise
     professional was qualified and competent to instruct.

 o REPs registration also gives a skills analysis of the workforce and its capacity to
     instruct in certain disciplines; the breakdown of the 21 registered exercise
     professionals is depicted in Figure 1 below.

   Figure 1: REPs skills analysis of registered exercise professionals in Torfaen (July

      Number of instructors


                                                                       Le 1
                                                                      L2 l 2

                                                                       Le l

                                                                     Tr r


                                                    g h rts S ults

                                                                      L 2 ic
                                                                    to n t

                                           - W Sp e r A al

                                                                     Te e r
                                       Ca Exe n al cto

                                                       P i Pe n t
                                                   Ex M e ss

                                                    SP Po e IV

                                                     L 3 e s T on s
                                       L3 ac R e R ine





                                      SP P O ld N at
                                                                se m e



                                                                g a ch

                                                 L 3 e d me



                                              L 2 e & Fi tn

                                                               t rs
                                                           Yo e a
                                            L 3 ers n str

                                               L 3 te & a s

                                                           bl g e

                                                         er o v


                                                     sa a
                                                     P dI

                                                  Di a n
                                                 er e n '

                                                 - A ab



                                             L3 t M


                                           SP e h
                                                       i ld


                                        L 2 Ch



                                   L3 3 S




                                                    Qualifications and REPS status

o Of the registered exercise professionals, 86% had attained full status on REPs
   and thus had approved qualifications and the relevant experience for that level.
   The remaining 14% had provisional status, which may be due to attaining older or
   lower level qualifications but with some areas of higher training. This gap in
   skills/experience of the provisional members would need to be addressed and a
   tailored blend of training would need to be provided to ‘top-up’ them up to full
   status. This proportion of members in Torfaen was slightly more favourable than
   the Welsh average of 80 % full members and 20% provisional.

o The level 2 gym instructor qualification was the most prevalent amongst this
   workforce with 43% qualified to instruct exercise in this environment. This
   qualification provides an important entry route into the industry and it is also the
   most common qualification across Wales, with an average of 65% of the
   workforce attaining this award. At the time of this research, at least 2 of the

   surveyed exercise professionals were working in the gym without a formal
   qualification and needed to upskill to level 2.

o With respect to all of the staff working in the gym environment, there were several
   areas of development that were identified by employers and exercise
   professionals; these included: updates on free weights instruction; updates on
   strength programming; stability ball training; programming using different
   environments- eg running track, sports hall.

o The level 3 Advanced Instructor qualification was the next most common
   qualification with 38% of the registered exercise professionals attaining it. On
   average, 55% of exercise professionals across Wales have attained this
   qualification and it is a vital prerequisite to be able to instruct special populations
   and to progress to more specialised areas at level 4.

o The leisure managers highlighted that there seemed to be a “significant step”
   between Level 2 and Level 3 qualified staff and that there was a shortage of
   people progressing through to the higher level. Therefore, upskilling 7 members
   of staff from level 2/ provisional level 3 to full level 3 was established as a priority
   to create the capacity to support specialised exercise programmes.

o It was acknowledged that there were exercise professionals who were instructing
   exercise sessions without the specialist unit of qualification for that particular client
   group. 5 instructors needed to undertake the level 3 module for instructing older
   adults and 2 instructors needed to be attain the level instructing children and
   young people.

o The exercise referral scheme was currently being supported by 3 members of
   staff (not all included in the skills analysis figure) and demand was expressed by
   at least 3 other members of staff to be upskilled in this area to provide exit route
   activities for those clients.

o On a national level, the physical activity and nutrition agendas are increasingly
   becoming interlinked and nutrition skills were identified as an operational skills

   gap by both managers and exercise professionals. This gap centred around
   instructors needing to be competent to provide healthy eating advice and having
   the knowledge on how to promote change.

           “People have tended in the past to come from one area or another – but
          the way the agendas are moving they need to come from both angles and
          its now part and parcel of the role”. Focus Group Participant

o 14% of the registered instructors had attained the weight management
   qualification and at least 5 more exercise professionals expressed a demand to
   be upskilled in this area. In addition to this, it was highlighted that the knowledge
   to refer clients to health professionals for more intensive nutritional support
   represented a skill in itself and needed to be part of CPD-related training.

o The level 2 Exercise to Music qualification was attained by 33% of the registered
   exercise professionals and it was acknowledged that there was a need to improve
   regular access to workshops to keep them updated on areas such as: step, body
   conditioning, advanced choreography and safe and effective practice.

o With respect to instructing group exercise, it was recognised that instructors
   needed to improve their group teaching skills to ensure that their delivery is
   appropriate for the class and inclusive for all abilities:

          “Sometimes we forget about the individual at the back of the class. We get
          carried away with how well we are doing and sometimes we don’t ask
          ourselves why didn’t that person come back next week”? Focus Group

o 5% of instructors in Torfaen were qualified to deliver exercise to Phase IV cardiac
   rehabilitation clients, which was the same proportion when compared to the
   national average ( 6%). Due to the recent changes in the health and fitness
   qualification structure, cardiac disease has now become a level 4 specialist area
   qualification. Once the pre-requisites for this level have been finalised by
   SkillsActive and REPs the existing cardiac rehabilitation instructors may be

   required to complete further training/coursework to progress to level 42.
   Additionally, the advent of the exercise referral scheme including level 4 areas of
   expertise meant that at least 2 other instructors needed to undertake this

o In terms of other technical skills gaps to deal with different user groups,
   awareness training for mental health and drug abuse issues were referred to as
   key gaps.

o Communication skills or “people skills” were highlighted as being a key gap within
   the Health and Fitness sector in Torfaen. Specifically, this point related to the
   interpersonal skills of “customer facing” staff and their ability to relate to some of
   the previously mentioned key target groups:

            “We need to equip staff with the confidence to speak with people and be
            able to give them proper diagnostic skills”. “Staff need to be able to
            communicate with them [the public] on their level – they need to have
            empathy. I think in general, older people with more experience find this a
            bit easier”. Focus Group Participant

o Despite a high profile national agenda to promote Basic Skills in adults
   (Numeracy, Literacy and ICT), communication skills were the only gaps to be
   identified. The remaining skills received very little prioritisation from both
   employers and employees in terms of needing to address gaps. This may be due
   to the self-report nature of the research questionnaires and the difficulties in
   sensitively diagnosing basic skills deficiencies.

o The local FE College (Coleg Gwent) and a private training provider (VT training)
   reported that basic skills testing occurred during their courses and it was agreed


   There are 6 Units of National Occupational Standards which have been developed and approved at level 4;
   they include: cardiac disease, mental health, back pain, falls prevention, after stroke care, diabetes/obesity.
   SkillsActive is concluding the requirements around the standards, ie. Assessment, tutors, pre-requisites etc
   and these should be completed by Spring 2008.

that sharing such intelligence with the managers would be a useful way forward in
setting individual baselines to inform Continuous Professional Development plans.

The potential costings of meeting these training needs are outlined in Appendix 1

Level 2 gym upskilling:
Torfaen CBC needs to upskill 2 members of gym staff who currently have no
qualification to level 2. This can be achieved via work-based learning provision, FE
college or other private training provision.

Upskill provisional members:
With assistance from REPs, there is a need to audit the gaps in skills and
experience of the provisional members and source training to meet these needs.

Workshops/ courses for gym instructors:
Torfaen CBC to source training and create a regular programme of CPD to update
the staff in the specified areas of: strength programming; stability ball training;
programming using different environments- eg running track, sports hall.

Workshops/ courses for group exercise instructors:
Torfaen CBC to source training and create a regular programme of CPD to update
the staff in the specified areas of: group teaching skills; step; body conditioning;
advanced choreography; safe and effective practice; exercising mixed ability

Level 3 Advanced Instructor upskilling:
Torfaen CBC to upskill the identified members of staff to level 3. This can be

achieved via work-based learning provision or via the Step-Up programme of
training that has been arranged by SkillsActive for Feb 2008.

Level 3 specialist units: Torfaen CBC to upskill staff in the areas of exercise
referral (3 instructors), older adults (5 instructors), children and young people

Weight management :5 instructors have been identified to be upskilled in this
area. Links should be made with the appropriate department in the LHB and NHS
trust to establish reciprocal referral arrangements.

Level 4 – Cardiac rehabilitation: In spring 2008, Torfaen CBC will be required to
upskill the existing cardiac rehabilitation instructors to level 4.    Additionally, 2
instructors attached to the exercise referral scheme need to undertake the whole

Drugs/ mental health awareness training:
Torfaen CBC to source awareness training for these 2 areas for all of the fitness
staff. The Local Health Board and local NHS Trust may have personnel who would
be able to provide this training locally; otherwise private training provision will have
to be sought.

Communication/customer care skills:
Torfaen CBC needs to take a strategic review of communication/customer care
skills across the organisation and determine the most effective approach to
addressing the gap. An organisational approach would involve a long-term plan to
raise standards and create a positive culture across all staff and departments.
However, if a ’quick hit’ was required just to upskill the fitness staff, one or two day
workshops can be sourced and this would obviously be less costly.

Basic Skills testing:
Torfaen CBC to work with local training providers to diagnose basic skills levels of

5.3 Recruitment and Retention

 o The majority of the leisure managers in Torfaen stated that they had difficulties
    recruiting qualified, local people into fitness roles. The most hard to fill role was
    perceived to be the entry level Fitness Instructor roles in the gym and this capacity
    problem had previously caused a restriction in service delivery when extra
    manpower was needed to cover extra shifts or sick leave. It was also apparent
    that these roles were difficult to retain in the long term.

 o Other hard to fill roles were identified as specialist roles such as: exercise referral;
    Cardiac Rehabilitation; and chronic conditions specialists.

 o When faced with these difficulties in recruiting qualified staff, several managers
    expressed that they would rather recruit people based on their personality:

            “I’d rather recruit people based on their softer skills; their personality – then
            train them up to do their posts properly”. Focus Group Participant

 o The above recruitment practice is reflected in recent research which has found
    that managers across the industry have adopted a wide range of approaches in
    how they have recruited, trained and valued qualifications. The chosen approach
    was often dependent on the organisation’s business strategy/financial position or
    the local labour market ( Lloyd C: Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational
    Performance, 2007)3.

 o The majority of the surveyed exercise professionals were employed on
    casual/part time contracts and were often juggling 2-3 different roles. Due to the
    nature of the leisure industry, these roles would often entail unsociable hours at
    the evenings or weekend.


    Qualifications and an Employer-Led System: Recruitment Practices in the UK Fitness Industry
    SKOPE Research Paper No . 75 July 2007. Caroline Lloyd, SKOPE, Cardiff University.

o Both short-term contracts and part-time roles with a small sum of hours are
   undoubtedly a disincentive from the perspective of prospective entrants to the
   sector and make it far more difficult to recruit people to key occupations. This
   point applied equally to the retention of staff in key posts and was widely felt to be
   a de-motivating factor.

           “We’re working to achieve long term policy goals and targets set out by
           the likes of Climbing Higher – which is absolutely right – but then we’re
           almost all on short-term contracts”. Focus Group Participant

o Managers also commented that occupations within the Health and Fitness sector
   needed to be more varied and made more attractive to potential recruits. This
   could be addressed by creating full time contracts that entailed gym and class
   instruction plus customer care/member retention activities.

o The advertising methods used to recruit into vacant posts were identified as a key
   weakness. Predominantly, jobs were advertised internally, or in the local job
   centre, due to budget constraints within the leisure services department. It was
   suggested that the council would need to advertise in the papers and the radio to
   improve the effectiveness of recruitment.

o One manager also proposed that having access to a governing body list of
   qualified staff who are looking for work in the industry in Torfaen, would be a
   useful resource to identify qualified staff who would work in the area.

o A key issue that emerged with all of the leisure managers was that the Human
   Resources Department within Torfaen CBC needed to work more flexibly and
   develop its policies and procedures to be more aligned and “in tune” with the
   situation “on the ground”.

o This was seen to be a major barrier to recruitment and it was felt that managers
   should be given additional range to recruit and manage their staff with more
   imaginative methods.

          “We need to be given the flexibility for example to allocate more hours –
          without going through so many hoops”. “We’re having to work with over-
          heavy policies and procedures for the flexible working environment in
          which we operate”. “What they [HR] do is just too rigid for what we need”.
          Focus Group Participant

o Given some of the difficulties around recruitment and retention, some managers
   were concerned that the quality of staff in some posts was slipping. The majority
   of managers did not closely monitor staff throughout the probationary periods and
   this often resulted in the retention of staff that were not effective:

           “Because we have such trouble recruiting – we may end up recruiting the
          wrong person just to get someone – because we are just hoping for the
          best”. Focus Group Participant

o It was agreed that tighter appraisal techniques and systems were required to
   ensure that the recruit was in fact suitable for the job.

o When focussing on other recruitment methods, managers agreed that Torfaen
   CBC did not effectively manage work experience placements for local students
   and that the area needed to be reviewed. These are potentially valuable entrants
   into the local labour market, but the placements were often unstructured and did
   not promote a career in working in health and fitness.

          “We need to make sure that they [potential new recruits to the sector] are
          offered quality placements. What we’ve got to do is make it a worthwhile
          experience for them – say a block of 3 months”. Focus Group Participant

o Improving the leisure department’s links with local schools/colleges was identified
   as a way of promoting the qualifications and skills needed for the industry. The
   health and fitness staff had minimal opportunity to regularly attend out-reach
   events such as career fairs/community events, which would be a good opportunity
   to market and recruit local students/residents into the department.


Review fitness instructors’ contracts:
To improve the appeal of working in Health and Fitness, it is recommended that
Torfaen CBC reviews their staff structure and pilot a new type of full-time contract
which would involve working in both the gym and in classes (enhanced rate for
these hours) and customer care duties.

This will aim to overcome existing problems in recruiting and retaining staff and
the lessons from this pilot will be considered and, if appropriate, the contract could
be rolled out across the borough.

Review job advertising:
In light of the negativity around recruitment methods, Torfaen CBC should review
the efficacy of where job adverts are placed, ie whether it is attracting the right
candidates. If posts are continually having to be readvertised due to ineffective
recruitment, the cost effectiveness of these approaches should be measured.

Utilise REPs for labour market information:
Linked to the above and based on the request for a ‘governing body’ list of
instructors, utilise the REPs services whereby they will send out job opportunities
to instructors on their database who live in the area/region.

Review recruitment methods with the Human Resources department:
In response to the significant concerns that were raised on this subject, there is a
need for a debate between the Health and Well Being Strategic Director and the
Director of Personnel, to move this issue forward and improve the operational

    effectiveness of the current processes.

    Improve links with local schools/colleges:
    Managers/fitness staff need to proactively make contact with local schools,
    colleges and community organisations to link in with relevant events and provide
    opportunities for the fitness staff to ‘sell’ working in fitness in Torfaen to local

    Improve structure of work experience placements:
    Placements within the health and fitness environment in Torfaen CBC need to
    become planned, worthwhile placements that will engender the student to want to
    become part of the industry. A supervisor/mentor should be appointed to co-
    ordinate the arrangements for induction, work programmes and also act as a role
    model who will motivate, encourage and support students to maximise the

    Advice and guidance on this should be sought from Careers Wales.

    Monitor staff through probationary periods:
     Managers/supervisors need to closely oversee staff through the 6 month
    probationary periods and also enforce the achievement of definite standards to be
    retained in the job role.

5.4 Pay and Conditions

         ‘Low pay is the most common key factor that would persuade people to
         leave the fitness industry…. 59% of exercise professionals stated this as the
         main reason for leaving.’ Working in Fitness Survey (SkillsActive, 2006)

o Pay and conditions was, significantly, the most debated area during the focus
   group session in Torfaen and it featured heavily as a topic within the other
   research that was conducted. It was commonly agreed by all involved that the
   fitness sector is underpaid and undervalued when compared to lower skilled jobs
   in other sectors such as retail.

o Taking into account all of the jobs in the sector, including management roles, the
   average basic salary across the fitness industry was £17 200 per annum (Working
   in Fitness Survey, 2006).

o At the time of research the hourly pay for gym instructing in Torfaen was
   £7.18/hour which would equate to around £13 800 pro rata, which is slightly more
   favourable than the UK national average for level 2 instructors of £12 111 but
   slightly below the average for a level 3 instructor of £13 915 (SkillsActive Working
   in Fitness Survey, 2006).

o There were 3-4 gym supervisors within the fitness team and they received a more
   elevated rate of pay of between £16 000 -£18 000. They were responsible for the
   staffing and maintenance of the gym but had little involvement with staff training
   and development.

o Group exercise instructors are employed on a casual basis and therefore have no
   holiday or sick leave entitlement; they are also required to buy their own licensed
   music, as a result the pay was considerably higher than gym-based roles at
   £14.62/hour. However, it is unlikely that an instructor would work full time on
   classes due to the physical nature of have 37 hours of classes per week; on
   average across the UK, exercise to music instructors earn £12 295, whilst Yoga or
   Pilates teachers accrue around £14 273 (SkillsActive Working in Fitness Survey,

o There was difficulty in sourcing job descriptions to account for the responsibility
   and levels at these salaries but it was reported that there were no sliding scales of
   pay to reward staff for higher qualifications/ experience. This lack of salary

    structure was seen to be a key weakness in recruiting and retaining quality staff
    and strong feelings of demotivation were expressed by the fitness staff.

o   Adding further uncertainty to the situation was the fact that Torfaen CBC was
    currently undertaking a Job Evaluation review across the council. There were
    mixed views that this process could either be an opportunity to improve pay for an
    undervalued workforce or that it may actually decrease current rates of pay. It
    was unclear when this review would be concluded and when changes in salary
    would be implemented.

o Performance related pay was mooted as a strategy to motivate and reward staff
    but there was a consensus that this would be problematic to monitor and award
    due to the difficulties of standardising different classes and controlling for
    differences in marketing and promotion of classes.

o Pay and conditions are amongst the most contentious areas within workforce
    development for the fitness sector as they have the biggest influence on
    recruitment and retention of quality employees. With the expansion of the sector
    to provide services within a variety of health and well-being areas, exercise
    professionals are increasingly required to provide a quality service delivery, often
    in very technical areas such as cardiac rehabilitation, but for relatively little

o This is also a very difficult area to effect any positive change within the public
    sector due to the local and national funding arrangements, whereby public
    investment in leisure services is a non-statutory area and in many areas it is on
    the decline.

o Externally-funded monies, such as the Welsh Assembly Government Exercise
    Referral project, have supported 3 posts in Torfaen at a salary range of around
    £16 000-£18 000, but these jobs have a 2-3 year cycle and then there is a risk
    that they are discontinued. This situation will only temporarily plug a service
    delivery gap for a specialised population; it does not create a solid infrastructure

for workforce development and growth to target other areas of the population, e.g.
inactive young women, older age groups etc.


Inform the Job Evaluation Review and introduce a structured salary system:
A coordinated response needs to be made on behalf of the health and fitness
workforce to the Job Evaluation team in Torfaen CBC, to ensure that they are fully
aware of the internal issues with pay and conditions.

It is also advocated that Torfaen CBC should introduce sliding scales of pay,
linked to the REPs framework, to reward the progression through qualifications
and accumulation of experience.

Create new salaried roles:
Linked   to   the   previously   mentioned   recommendation,    there   is   further
reinforcement of the need that Torfaen CBC needs to create more substantial
salaried roles which are often more attractive to an employee and will improve
recruitment and retention.

The leisure managers/fitness workforce should be fully involved in this process.

Secure more in-depth labour market intelligence:
Of the respondents to the SkillsActive Working in Fitness Survey (WIF) only 5% of
the labour market intelligence relates to exercise professionals working in Wales.
To reinforce the WIF survey and this initial research within Torfaen, more in depth
labour market intelligence is needed to present a comprehensive profile of this
sector across Wales, e.g. how many instructors there are in this sector in Wales;

    what are their experiences of working in the industry; what are their job roles and
    qualifications; what are they are paid; whether they are employed or self-
    employed; in which sector.        This information will provide strategists/policy
    planners with a clear picture of the issues faced at the ‘coalface’ and it will provide
    a framework for future action.

    SkillsActive will liaise with the Welsh Assembly Government’s Department for
    Children, Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills to seek funding to expand this
    area of work.

    Advocate the value of the sector to the Government :
    On a national and UK level there is need for dialogue with Government and
    business to raise awareness of the value of this sector and the crucial role it plays
    in promoting the wider health agenda of Wales. In turn, there is a need to lobby
    for more investment to develop and retain this qualified workforce.

    In the first instance, SkillsActive will fully brief the Welsh Local Government
    Association (WLGA) on the workforce development issues facing the health and
    fitness sector and the outcomes of this project. The WLGA and SkillsActive will
    then have a key role to move this agenda forward with the relevant Welsh
    Assembly Government Departments.

5.5 Training and Career Development

 o It was evident that the development of a fitness career in Torfaen limited by the
    lack of available varied positions within the leisure department, especially in
    supervisory/management roles. This has given little opportunity for exercise
    professionals to progress within exercise instruction or to move on to more senior
    management roles, which would have better pay and conditions and enable the

   experience of the fitness sector to influence the development of the service as a

o The training and career development for the gym instructors in each of the fitness
   suites was the responsibility of their respective leisure centre manager, whereas
   the group exercise instructors across the borough were overseen by one class
   coordinator. Recent personnel changes had meant that the class coordinator role
   had become vacant and, in a climate of budget cuts, there didn’t appear any firm
   plans to reappoint to this position.

o A key issue that emerged from discussions was the perceived importance of the
   leisure managers being equipped and able to understand how to motivate their
   staff and develop their career.

o Within the questionnaires that the leisure managers completed as part of this
   research, they were surveyed on their knowledge of fitness career development.
   Figure 2 below depicts the results.

   Figure 2. Percentage of Leisure Managers’who rated their knowledge of career
   development for the fitness sector

              Fitness Career Pathways

     Register of Exercise Professionals                                         Very good
        Access to fitness courses in the
                     locality                                                   Poor

     Fitness qualifications and relevant

                                           0%   20%   40%   60%    80%   100%

o The majority of the Leisure Managers commented that they needed to improve
   their own knowledge and understanding in the different aspects of career
   development for the fitness sector.

o None of those surveyed perceived that they had a ‘very good’ knowledge in the
   stated areas, but two-thirds felt that they had a ‘good’ level of understanding.
   One-third indicated that their knowledge on 3 out of the 4 categories fell into the
   poor category and two-thirds only rated their knowledge on REPs as ‘satisfactory’.

o There was particular uncertainty expressed in the focus group around private
   training providers and the concerns related mainly to quality assurance and
   selection of a provider.

          “There’s a real variance in knowledge in what’s seen as an endorsed
          training provider”. Focus Group Participant.

             ‘Poor training and development is a reason why 21% of instructors
      would leave the sector’ (SkillsActive Working in Fitness Survey, 2006).

o The surveyed exercise professionals completed a questionnaire on the training
   and development support that they received from their manager. Nearly 80% felt
   that they would benefit from increasing their skills/knowledge and accessing
   further training in the areas outlined in the ‘Skills Analysis’ section. The remaining
   results are depicted in Figure 3 below.

   Figure 3: Percentage of surveyed exercise professionals who have received
   training and development support.

     60                                  57
     50 47       47
     40                                                           36
                                  33                                    31 31
                                              21 21
     20                                                      14
     10      7                7
                                                                                         0 0 0
     Appraisal/Dev.       Formal        Non formal   Mentoring         Shadowing         Other
         plan            training      training from                   employees
                         courses            staff

                      During previous year        During previous 5 years        Never

o It was evident there was no coordinated approach to training and development of
   the fitness workforce in Torfaen, with less than half of the surveyed staff receiving
   a formal job appraisal during the previous year.

o It was widely agreed that exercise professionals needed to maintain their
   Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and keep their knowledge up to

           “With advanced exercise programming it’s important that skills are up to
           date. If someone’s qualified 10 or 20 yrs ago there’s obviously going to be
           a vast difference in the technology”. Focus Group Participant

o However, whilst 60% of staff had attended formal training within the last year,
   33% of staff had never attended any formal training. Also, managers identified
   that there was very little being done on basic skills diagnostics or training needs

o There was a more favourable situation with the access to in-house training with
   just over half who had attended any sessions within the previous year and only

    21% who had never attended any sessions. However, it is not clear whether the
    content of this in-house training is quality assured and relevant to each instructors
    development needs. This situation could be improved significantly if there was a
    designated pool of staff within Torfaen CBC who were trained to tutor and assess
    fitness training, as currently occurs with the pool-based training.

o When questioned on other forms of job development, only half had received
    mentoring support during the previous year and 40 % had never had the
    opportunities to shadow more experienced staff. This was likely to be a particular
    problem for new group exercise instructors who would tend to work in a more
    isolated environment than gym instructors.

o The majority of the training provision for Torfaen fitness staff had been facilitated
    by one of the leisure managers and over 10 private training companies had
    delivered a variety of quality assured courses in the area.

o Torfaen CBC also maintained good links with the local FE college (Coleg Gwent)
    and staff had attended level 2 and level 3 fitness courses at the local campus.
    However, it was acknowledged that further joint work would be useful to explore
    creating a framework of CPD.

o Recent relationships had been created with a private sector work-based learning
    provider who was delivering level 2 and level 3 apprenticeship courses for the
    fitness staff that were fully funded by the Welsh Assembly Government.

o As previously mentioned, it was left to the discretion of each centre manager/gym
    supervisor whether the exercise professionals could attend training and as a
    result this had led to a variance in access to opportunities.

o   This situation was particularly compounded when the fitness suites were
    operating with less than a full compliment of staff. In some instances, this
    reduced capacity made it very difficult to cover shifts and despite staff starting
    training courses, they were not being released from their shifts to complete them.

o There was a consensus that there was a need to develop a planned programme
   of training and CPD and move away from the ‘hit and miss’ reactive attitude to

          “you need to be able to dip in and dip out of various bits of study to move
          on in you career” Focus Group Participant

o It was also widely felt that this lack of structured development of staff and a
   perceived lack of career prospects was a key factor in causing recruitment and
   retention difficulties:

          “the Activity/Fitness sector is actually being dealt a poor hand”
           Focus Group Participant

o To address the above issues, it was identified that there was a need to have a
   central point of coordination for fitness development within Torfaen:

          “A senior fitness professional who has the knowledge, drive and ambition
          to take Torfaen fitness to a higher level of service delivery. A person who
          oversees the fitness side of our business and manages all sites.”
           Focus Group Participant


   Employment of a Fitness Development Coordinator:
   There is a very clear need for a central point of coordination for training and
   development of the fitness workforce across the borough, since the current
   system is very fragmented and not equitable to all staff. The employment of a
   Fitness Development post would be key to oversee the workforce development
   needs of the fitness staff across all of the centres/gyms. It would also increase
   the capacity to communicate with the public and community groups on fitness

    services and career opportunities.

    Establish a positive culture to support training and development: Linked to
    the above need to create more coordinated training opportunities,          Strategic
    directors and Senior Management in Torfaen CBC need to promote and instill a
    supportive ‘learning environment’ culture throughout the leisure department so
    that staff can be released from shifts and access these training opportunities.

    Create a programme of CPD with local training providers:
    Torfaen CBC needs to nurture the availability of training provision in the locality
    and further develop relationships with the local Further Education colleges and
    private providers to establish if they can create an ongoing programme of CPD for
    the fitness staff.

    Upskill fitness staff to be fitness tutors/ assessors:
    Torfaen CBC to initiate discussions with training providers, such as Torfaen
    Training, to examine how existing fitness staff could be upskilled to tutors and
    assessors for fitness courses. The benefits of this recommendation are two fold,
    in that it to creates an opportunity for career development for existing staff and it
    also creates capacity to provide in-house training/CPD, which would be cost-
    effective for Torfaen CBC.

5.6 Future Fitness Workforce Needs

 o There was significant debate around the future direction of the fitness service
    provision in Torfaen and how it would need to develop to meet the needs of both
    the local population and national participation targets. Accordingly, the associated
    reconfiguration and expansion of the current workforce was deliberated upon.

 o There were serious concerns that there may be a future lack of instructors
    available to meet demand and to deliver the necessary programmes and services

   to meet Climbing Higher targets. Consequently, some stakeholders felt that this
   specific issue needed to be explored further since; as yet, there was no
   quantification of the fitness workforce needed to effect a population change in

o Following on from this point there was also an over-arching apprehension as to
   the capacity of training providers in general to be able to provide the kind of
   upskilling needed to fulfil Climbing Higher and other Welsh Assembly policy
   targets which have direct and indirect implications for the Health and Fitness

o It was generally agreed that it was very difficult to engage 16-24 year olds in
   Torfaen in Health and Fitness activities and disaffected young people, particularly
   those from deprived areas, found it difficult to “associate” with Leisure Centres.
   Therefore, improving links with community groups was seen as a key opportunity
   to consult on what the hard to reach, sedentary individuals actually wanted
   provided.      This would create a resultant need to enhance the community
   engagement and behaviour change skills amongst fitness instructors to achieve
   effectiveness in this environment.

o Linked to the above point, it was felt that it would be important to develop
   ‘Champions’ or 'animateurs' within these communities to assist with addressing
   the needs of target groups such as older people or disaffected young people.

o From a health perspective, there was an awareness that a future ageing
   population would significantly increase the requirements of the chronic disease
   teams. As a result there was concern expressed that the industry would need to
   create well-paid exercise instructor positions and develop well-trained Level 4

o It was identified that a wider range of activities should be available at
   venues/locations other than leisure centres, due the negative images that are
   often attached to these buildings.      It was suggested that opportunities to

    participate in activity needed to become: “accessible to people on their

o   The workplace was emphasised as a key location for in future participation and it
    was envisaged that future employers will have increased their commitment to
    encouraging their workforce to become more active. This would manifest itself in
    far higher levels of buy-in amongst senior managers, particularly in the private
    sector and would lead to direct opportunities and incentives to participate in
    physical activity. Qualified instructors would therefore be needed to meet the
    requirements of workplace activities across Torfaen.

o Customer trends have indicated that there will be an increasing level of demand
    for “non traditional” classes such as Mind and Body classes. The current dearth
    of Level 3 Yoga and Pilates instructors in Torfaen would need to be addressed by
    upskilling level 2 instructors with these qualifications.

o It was suggested that there was a need to decrease the differentiation between
    the public and private sector in terms of their business approach. With regard to
    this point, it was highlighted that there was currently an increasing demand for
    one-to-one personal training sessions, however current council policy meant that
    instructors weren’t permitted to carry out these sessions. This position should be
    reviewed in light of future business/participation strategy and     instructors who
    have expressed an interest in this area should be upskilled in personal training to
    meet this demand.


    Joint planning for future activities:
    In light of the suggested outreach activities with communities, schools and chronic
    disease patients, there is a reinforced need for joint planning with partners such
    as education, health and community development to ensure that activities aren’t

duplicated and resources are shared. This joint working could increase the value
of exercise professionals amongst the Health, Social Care and Well being
partners and pave the way for career development opportunities for exercise
professionals in different environments. Again, the Climbing Higher Partnership
agreements/action plans will provide a key opportunity to structure a future action

Create a workforce modelling tool:
Despite the occupational themes that emerged from this research into future
workforce needs, it was evident that there were difficulties in employers actually
quantifying the future workforce capacity that would be needed to effect a
population change in participation through fitness activities. This does not enable
an assuredly ”future-proofed” workforce development plan to be produced since
the proportion of future roles/positions were assessed by the less than scientific
method of ‘guesstimating’, which is a risky strategy when requesting further
workforce investment in a climate of budget cuts.

There is a distinct need for a workforce modelling tool, similar to those used in the
health and social care sectors, to provide solid data on the amount of full time/part
time roles that would be needed to provide targeted services across Torfaen to
make a significant impact.

Additionally, SkillsActive is developing a web-based training needs/organisational
needs analysis tool which, when customised for the Welsh context, will be
available to use with employers in 2008. This will help contribute to effectively
collecting and analysing workforce needs across the Welsh fitness industry.

6   Conclusion

    This research was initiated to identify the key issues that were preventing the
    growth of the fitness workforce in Torfaen and to establish solutions to address
    these barriers to development. The research process elicited a complex blend of
    strategic and operational issues that are significantly influencing the delivery of
    fitness activities in Torfaen, with the main thrust being that the fitness workforce in
    Torfaen was undervalued and underpaid.          The workforce development of the
    fitness staff is not aligned with national/local strategies and it requires strategic

    On an operational level, access to training and development was inconsistent and
    the lack of a career framework had meant that there were few opportunities to
    progress.    For those who were motivated to gain further qualifications and
    experience, there was no extra pay to reward for this advancement. To deal with
    these issues it was recommended that, in the short term, Torfaen CBC should
    designate a full time coordinator to oversee the training and development of this
    workforce. In the long term; it was recommended that Torfaen CBC reviews the
    pay and conditions and upgrade them to reflect the skill level and responsibility of
    this workforce.

    On a national level, there is a lack of recognition of the professional development
    needs of this sector and the importance of its current and potential contribution to
    the health and well being agenda. The position of leisure services as a non-
    statutory area and the resultant relatively low levels of investment is at odds with
    the expectation of the Welsh Assembly Government that local government will
    provide more services to get the nation more active, more often. The workforce
    development issues that have been discussed within this report will not be
    peculiar to this authority. To enable the collation of further national evidence it is
    proposed that the methodology/processes followed within this research, subject to
    the improvements advised in the above recommendations, should be used as a
    workforce development model for the fitness sector. Replicating this research
    within other local authorities/ private sector fitness clubs across Wales would add
    strength and depth to the national picture and provide the Welsh Local

Government Association and SkillsActive with more solid evidence to act as
advocates on behalf of employers to challenge the current level of investment
from the government.

                                                                        Appendix 1

                                                      Workforce Development Plan Costings

         Skills Gap             Proposed Training               Potential Providers         Approximate Cost          Number of      Approximate
                                     Course                                                     per Head              Candidates      Total Cost

Provisional level 2             Level 2 gym instructor     1. Fitness Wales                 1. £500-600                            1. £1000-1200
instructors need to be          qualification
upskilled to full level 2                                  2. Coleg Gwent (Usk Campus)      2. £300-400                            2. £600-800
                                                           3. Lifetime Health and Fitness   3. £400-600                            3.£800-1200

                                                           4. VT Training                   4. No training costs if                4. £0
                                                                                            undertaking the
                                                                                            programme (fully
                                                                                            funded by the Welsh

Level 2 and provisional level   Level 3 Advanced           1. Fitness Wales                 1. £500-600                            1. £3500-4200
3 instructors to be upskilled   Instructor qualification
to full level 3                                            2. Coleg Gwent (Usk Campus)      2. £300-400                   7        2. £2100-2800

                                                           3. VT Training                   3a £250 (SkillsActive                  3a £1700
                                                                                            ‘Step Up’ upskilling
                                                                                            project)                               3b £0
                                                           4. Lifetime Health and Fitness

                                                         Training                         3b No training costs        4. £3150
                                                                                          as above

                                                                                          4. £450
Instructors working with        Level 3 Older Adult      1. Fitness Wales (not yet an
older adults require a          course                   awarding body qualification)     1. £195                     1. £975
relevant qualification                                                                                           5
                                                         2. Focus Training (CYQ)          2. £350                     2. £1750

                                                         3. Lifetime Health and Fitness   3. £345                     3. £1725
                                                         Training (CYQ)

Instructors working with        Level 2 Certificate in   1. Fitness Wales                 1. £295                     1. £590
children and young people       Instructing Health       2. Focus Training                2. £330                2    2. 660
require a relevant              Related Exercise for
qualification                   Children/ ‘Kidsfit’

Add capacity to exercise        Level 3 Exercise         1. Fitness Wales                 1.£595                 3    1. £1785
referral scheme by upskilling   Referral qualification   2. Focus Training                2.£470                      2.£1410
existing staff                  (CYQ)                    3. Lifetime Health and Fitness   3. £550                     3. £1650

                                Level 3 Nutrition and    1. Fitness Wales                 1. £195                     1. £975
Diet and nutrition skills for   Weight Management        2. Focus Training                2.£270                 5    2. £1350
gym instructors                 course (CYQ)             3. Lifetime Health and Fitness   3. £350                     3. £1750

                                Advanced                 Focus Training                   £50                         £1000
Exercise to music CPD           choreography                                                                     20
workshops                                                                                                             £800
                                Body Conditioning        Fitness Wales                    £40

Gym instructors CPD             Level 3 Training in      1. Focus Training                1. £250                15   1. £3750

                              Different Environments   2. Fitness Wales          2. £135         2. £2025

Upskill level 3/existing      Courses yet to be        TBC                       TBC        6    TBC
Cardiac Rehabilitation        designed
instructors to level 4
Mental health awareness to    YMCA Exercise and        YMCAfit                   £160       10   £1600
deal with these clients       Mental Health
Customer                      Bespoke course           University of Glamorgan   TBC             TBC
care/communication            suitable for Torfaen     Coleg Gwent                          30
In-house assessors for        A1 Assessors course      Torfaen Training          £100-500   3    £300-1500
fitness training and                                   Coleg Gwent
development                                            YMCAfit

                                                                                                 £20 000 -28 000
Lack of coordination of
training and development of   Employment of a Fitness Development Coordinator
fitness staff

                                        APPROXIMATE TOTAL COSTINGS                               £31 000- 47 000

                                        Appendix 2


     SkillsActive host the Exercise Council Wales Development Manager post and
     have played a key supporting role in the development of this workforce
     development research, in terms of providing project support and labour market

     SkillsActive is the Sector Skills Council (SSC) for the Active Leisure and Learning
     Sector and it encompasses Sport and Recreation, Health and Fitness, Playwork,
     the Outdoors and the Caravan industries. SSCs are employer-led organisations
     that aim to tackle the skills and productivity needs of their sector throughout the
     UK by providing employers with the opportunity to articulate their needs to

     The SkillsActive Manager for Wales is responsible for the development and
     implementation of SkillsActive work within Wales in conjunction with key sector
     partners. The Welsh Assembly Government and Sports Council Wales have
     funded SkillsActive to undertake programmes of work to address the skills
     implications of key strategies affecting the sector.

     Sector Skills Agreements (SSAs) are currently a key focus for SkillsActive and
     they are the means for SSCs to exert strong influence throughout the system to
     help shape the supply of relevant training and skills and to raise employer
     commitment to skills. SSAs will be a crucial mechanism to deliver on four strategic
     objectives: increasing productivity, addressing skills gaps and shortages,
     providing greater opportunities, and more responsive education and training. The
     agreements lie between the SSC, employers, partner organisations and
     government. Specifically, SSAs will:

                            -   Provide a means for employers and government to
                                collaborate in meeting the priority skill needs of
                                industry sectors.
                            -   Present a genuine opportunity for employers to shape
                                training provision and coherent progression routes.
                            -   Challenge employers to work collaboratively across
                            -   Give individuals access to training which is relevant to
                                industry needs, to help secure well paid employment
                                and progression.

     SkillsActive compile the National Occupational Standards (NOS) for the Active
     Leisure and Learning Sector and these technical criteria are set by employers
     and industry experts. NOS have been established for exercise professionals at
     levels 1-3 and recent demand has led to the development of level 4 standards to
     support Exercise Referral professionals working in clinical, specialist areas such
     as Coronary Heart Disease, Stroke, Falls Prevention etc.

           By creating a UK framework of qualifications and training for the exercise
           and fitness sector SkillsActive aims to encourage skill development that:

           •   enables individuals to understand career opportunities
           •   supports the growth of a highly professional and competent workforce
               to meet the needs of employers
           •   ensures the sector is equipped to fulfil it’s economic and social

Register of Exercise Professionals

     The Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs) is a wholly owned subsidiary of
     SkillsActive and it was established in 2003 with the purpose of improving

confidence in the fitness industry for customers, the public, partners and the
medical profession. Since its conception it has registered around 30 000 members
throughout the UK.

The Register uses a process of self-regulation that recognises industry-based
qualifications, practical competency, and requires fitness professionals to work
within a Code of Ethical Practice. The Register’s levels are underpinned by the
National Occupational Standards at levels 1-4 and qualifications are only
accepted if they match the standards. These include awarding body certified
S/NVQs (Scottish/National Vocational Qualifications) and RVQs (Related
Vocational Qualifications) or externally assessed Industry Recognised Awards.
Registration will ensure that Exercise Professionals will commit to Continued
Professional Development.

From September 2005, REPs became the only recognised register of exercise
professionals in Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government and Sports Council
for Wales supported the funding of a Welsh Register Officer. To date, REPs has
registered over 1000 members in Wales, with approximately 800 people currently
members at present.      The Welsh Register Officer for REPs will continue to
promote and expand the profile of the register in Wales and will aim to increase
registrations from the public, private and voluntary sector.


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