5 Takeaways from our webinar: Careers in Sport – What Does the Future Hold?

Here's what we learned from leaders of the sports sector about what future career paths might look like and how the industry will bounce back.

By James Burbidge · 28th September 2020

Our recent webinar – Careers in Sport: What Does the Future Hold – was a panel discussion between some of the leaders in our sector, the people who make the decisions and shape the policy that affects what coaches like you do day-to-day. As we come out of the Covid-19 lockdown it is clear that sport and physical activity more important than ever, but that the industry has taken a hit. This webinar was a chance for these leaders to speak about what they think the future holds for young professionals in the industry. We’ve picked out 5 things we learned from listening to the panellists and that you might find useful too. If you’d like to see the whole thing, you can access it by signing up to our newsletter.

The panellists included:
– Stuart Armstrong – Strategic Lead for Workforce, Sport England
– Tara Dillon – CEO, CIMSPA
– Huw Edwards, CEO, ukactive
– Emma Atkins – Director of Coaching, UK Coaching
– Andy Reed – Chair, Sport for Development Coalition

1) Covid-19 has been traumatic for the sector – but people are being forced to innovate and out of that innovation there is the opportunity to build a new and better system. In fact Sport England started working on strategies that should help with this a couple of years ago.

The opportunities of the future are going to be different. The old jobs may not come back. Sport for development is likely to be a big area of growth. The opportunity is there for young people to use their creativity, innovation and energy to forge their own micro-businesses, working in communities and having a meaningful impact on people who really need their help. That’s where the sector is going to see growth and it will be massively driven by young people.

2) It doesn’t matter what industry you might end up in or want to end up in – if you look at the underlying skills that employers are looking for, then you can’t think of a better place to start than sports coaching. If you have the core skills of a coach, there is pretty much nothing that you can’t do or apply for.

3) Just say yes to stuff. Take every opportunity that comes your way. Use the time when you can’t coach to build areas of skill. There are so many free online opportunities to learn at the moment, and the more you do, the more ready you will be as things come back online.

4) Hyper-locality is going to be important. Surveys showed that if you’re someone who is inactive and thinking about becoming more active, a leisure centre 2 miles away is too far away. So there’s a real potential for those people in the workforce who can bring physical activity provision to people where they are. The vast majority of people in the existing workforce (PTs and coaches etc) don’t really see inactive people as being a key audience for them to engage. There’s a huge disconnect there, and so if you’re a young person thinking of coming into this sector, you can have a huge impact by being able to work with people where they are. And the more multiskilled you are the more able you are to engage a range a people. So don’t think of yourself as a single activity coach – a football coach, a PT, etc – try to become as multi-dimensional as you possibly can because that’s where the future’s going to be.

5) There has been a lot of talk about the impact of Coronavirus on mental health, particularly that of young people. We know that coaching and volunteering contributes positively to your mental health and wellbeing. If you are feeling that way, you might not want to go and get involved in stuff like coaching, but actually it is something that will help you, as well as the person that you’re helping. It gives you that social connection and that sense of purpose that is so important when you’re going through that kind of period in your life.

We polled the audience at the beginning and end of the webinar and found a 20% increase in optimism, which is hugely encouraging. If you want to feel that benefit then check out the whole thing.

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