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The diversity of the sector means that it contains a vast range of occupations; everything from personal trainers to activity leaders, and play assistants to leisure centre managers.

The occupation structure of the sector is comprised of:

  • 23% Associate professional and technical, compared to 15% across the whole economy
  • 21% personal service staff, compared to 8%

Professional, associate professional and technical, together with personal service and elementary occupations are more important within the active leisure, learning and well-being sector than in the whole economy.

The highest proportion of vacancies, both hard-to-fill and skills shortage, are for personal service and elementary occupations.

The most over-represented groups are those classified as managers in hospitality and leisure, teaching professionals, sports and fitness occupations, childcare and related personal services and leisure and travel service occupations, and elementary personal service occupations.

The volunteer workforce in the sector work primarily as coaches, teachers, instructors and activity leaders, but also include playworkers and members of voluntary committees in the playwork industry.

The importance of childcare and related personal services and teaching professionals reflects the playwork sector’s requirements.

Source: Sector Skills Assessment – Active Leisure, Learning and Well-being: UK 2010 and Skills Needs Assessment – England 2005


Occupational hard-to-fill vacancies and skill shortage vacancies

  • 19% of employers in the sector report vacancies, compared with 18% across all sectors
  • 7% report hard-to-fill vacancies, compared with 7% across all sectors
  • in total, there are around 2,017 hard-to-fill vacancies, which is 1% of employment in the sector
  • 4% reported skill shortage vacancies, compared with 5% across all sectors
  • the highest proportion of skills shortage vacancies are for personal service occupations
  • 16% of establishments report skills gaps, compared with 15% across all sectors
  • the proportion of staff described as lacking proficiency is 6%

Skills gaps are highest for personal service, elementary, sales and associate professional occupations. Gaps are reported to be for technical and practical skills, customer-handling, team working and oral communication. The impact of hard-to-fill vacancies is reported to be:

  • increased workload for other staff
  • delays developing new products
  • increased operating costs

Source: National Employer Skills Survey 2007

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Sector earnings

Data from the Working in Fitness Survey 2009 showed that:

  • The average basic salary is £20,300 across all occupations working in permanent position or who are self-employed. Variations in average salaries include:

Self employed/freelancer: £22,900 per year

Permanent full-time: £20,400 per year (range from £13,800 for gym instructor (level 2) to £28,800 for senior management)

Permanent part-time: £12,900 per year

  • The highest salaries are earned in senior management roles (earning an average £26,700), whilst the lowest earners are the level 2 occupations of gym instructor, and group exercise and aqua instructors at less than £15,000. The level 3 roles range between basic salaries of £17,500 (advanced instructors) to £25,600 (personal trainers).
  • Gender variations are evident with males earning, on average, 16% more than females. Females typically work 20 hours or less, or 31-40 hours (51% and 25%, respectively) whilst men work 31-50 hours (36% working 31-40 hours and 20% 41-50 hours).
  • 34% of UK fitness workforce received a pay rise in 2009, lower than 2008 when 49% had an increase.
  • 48% stated that pay is a factor that would motivate them to leave the industry.
  • Those occupations expressing the highest amount of dissatisfaction with their remuneration package are personal trainers (level 3) (46%), yoga, pilates and KFA teachers (44%), advanced instructors (level 3) and gym instructors (level 2) (43% each).

Source: Working in Fitness Survey 2009

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Occupational roles and sources of information

The SkillsActive website as several case studies of those working in the sector highlighting the duties, responsibilities, earnings and advice for those thinking about joining the sector. Selected career profiles available include: sport and recreation coaching coordinator; recreation administrator; health and fitness product manager; play centre manager and caravan park health and safety manager.

The website also includes profiles of Advanced Apprenticeships in Sporting Excellence and the graduate Apprenticeship in the outdoor sector. Careers information on work in the different industries in the sector is also available.

A variety of key roles in the hospitality, sport and leisure sector are identified by Graduate Prospects and detailed information is available. Some selected examples include: fitness centre manager; outdoor pursuits manager; sports administrator; sports coach/instructor; and sports development officer.

The National Careers Service website also has detailed occupational profiles for some occupations in the sport leisure and tourism section. These profiles include information on entry points, training, working environment, employment opportunities and expected annual salary.

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