Shared Intelligence was commissioned by Active Essex and Creative Sport and Leisure Ltd to create a demand-led and evidence based skills action plan. The plan was intended to steer and inform future skills developments for the sector, designing interventions which will impact positively on qualifications and skills provision.

This work started with research into the needs of sporting and non-sporting employers and close engagement with education providers to gain a better understanding of their challenges and opportunities. The result of these meetings and discussions led to a comprehensive report with key recommendations and case studies alongside a sector skills action plan identifying outcomes, targets and priorities to support employers and promote best practice.

We also delivered an economic profile of Essex, looking at five specific areas of sports related activity and employment. These were:

  • Sports, cultural and recreation education;
  • Human health activities;
  • Sports activities;
  • Manufacture of sports goods;
  • Holiday and short-stay accommodation.

Each has a specific occupational profile within the sports sector, demanding a different balance of skills.

This research culminated in a set of recommendations grouped into four themes reflecting what was raised by stakeholders during workshops, in our conversations, and our analysis of sector and occupational data. These themes were: training, jobs and skills; partnership; funding and finance; and awareness raising.

The main methods we used were:

  • Desk research and data analysis to build an understanding of the relevant and an economic profile.
  • Identifying good practice models in workplace health.
  • Conducting a survey, focus groups and one-on-one interviews with stakeholders.
  • A final report including a set of recommendations and an action plan.

There are considerable policy drivers which place sport and physical activity at the heart of the solutions. In order to better support the sector and its progression through a variety of agendas, a skilled workforce remains central to success. In preparing our recommendations we considered their ability to raise participation levels, provide for a new demographic of demand and raise the profile of the sector given its ability to deliver outcomes for public health, infrastructure and economic development.

Our recommendations to Active Essex CSP and Creative Sport and Leisure included:

  • Providing better access to the 11-14 learner group and promote volunteering and career opportunities which offer the fullest range of sport types.
  • Creating a map of ‘bite-sized’ learning tools and a forum to share ‘what works’ to encourage best practice.
  • Supporting the creation of a business and education provider-led sub-group which can generate and feed up market intelligence to the Essex employment and skills board and South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) skills board.
  • Continuing to support local active networks and encourage them to feed-back local intelligence which can support intelligence creation about needs and priorities for activity, including local responses and initiatives.
  • Promoting the sport sector as an opportunity sector within wider economic priorities, recognising the value of cross-cutting benefits it delivers.

We also prepared an action plan for Active Essex CSP and Creative Sport and Leisure to take forward and ensure that the recommendations could be delivered. Among other actions, we encouraged the creation of a sub-group or partnership to relay and develop messages to Essex Skills and Employment Board, SELEP and other bodies such as Sports England.

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