GM Active launches bespoke workforce training academy to meet future public health and sector needs

Employees working across diverse roles in Greater Manchester’s community leisure and cultural sector are to undertake a strategic transformational development programme to boost their understanding and skills surrounding the public health agenda and in turn, provide their communities with an innovative ‘health and wellness service’.

We are launching the GM Active Skills and Training Academy which involves a workforce learning journey and a catalogue of training and support opportunities.

The purpose of the academy is to equip all 3,600 of GM Active’s employees with the skills to support and meet the needs of their customers, enabling a transformation in the culture, knowledge and behaviours of staff to address the challenges of inactivity in the region. Upskilling leisure sector workforces will also provide better outcomes for local communities and the NHS.  

The training academy is being supported by GreaterSport and made possible with investment from the National Lottery, through the Local Pilot in Greater Manchester with Sport England, and delivered in partnership with the training provider, Future Fit Training.

The training answers our vision for community leisure to play a unique role in developing a new ‘national wellness service’ to support the NHS and the national prevention strategy to tackle the conditions posing the greatest threat to health and social care services.

Speaking about the new training academy, our vice-chair Andy King said: “Our leisure and cultural workforces and facilities contribute hugely to public wellbeing and are on the frontline of the prevention agenda. Our new training academy will widen and enhance awareness and understanding of the latest and emerging public health and leisure sector issues, enabling more staff to apply their new knowledge and skills when supporting our customers and delivering more targeted interventions. The academy also illustrates our forward-thinking, imaginative and collaborative ethos with partners across the community leisure and health sectors.”

The training complements the Greater Manchester Moving (GM Moving) strategy and GreaterSport charity’s work to increase participation in physical activity, aligned to the Greater Manchester Population Health Plan priority themes and wider reform agenda. 

GM Moving and GreaterSport have targets of enabling two million people in the region to lead more active lives by 2021 and 75 per cent of residents to be on the move by 2025, making Greater Manchester the UK’s most active region.

Hayley Lever, Chief Executive at GreaterSport and Executive Lead at GM Moving said: “This exciting training will support our community leisure and culture workforce to play their part in the health and wellbeing of communities across Greater Manchester. People are our greatest asset in our collective work to keep the region moving through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. 

“Organisations which invest in the skills and capability of workforces during the coronavirus crisis are demonstrating great vision and commitment to population health by addressing the challenges of today and the future.”

Training topics include coronavirus recovery and resilience, mental health and wellbeing, boosting engagement with people with long-term health conditions to lead more active and healthier lives, and working with older people to help them start and stay active.

Ultimate social and economic benefits will include better public physical and mental health, the easing of pressure on the NHS, reduced sickness at work and improved productivity.

Elaine Briggs, Director of Education at Future Fit Training, said: ‘’GM Active is leading the leisure sector by taking practical steps to up-skill the workforce with additional skills which sit outside regular job roles and to ensure that customers can expect a rounded health and wellness service which takes their individual needs into account. 

“A distinctive feature of GM Active is the promotion of co-working between physical activity and clinical healthcare providers in Greater Manchester. We not only see this new training as an extension of that work but also as a skills passport for continuous professional development in the leisure industry.”