22 Sep 2021 World leisure: news, training & property
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Health Club Management
2021 issue 7

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Leisure Management - Delivering on employability


Delivering on employability

Six months on from the launch of its Kickstart programme, The Gym Group is hiring the majority of trainees, as Liz Terry reports

The UK’s Minister for employment, Mims Davies, visited the West Croydon site in June to meet Kickstart recruits photo: Department of work and pensions

The Gym Group confirms it has hired 18 out of 24 Kickstart candidates, as its first cohort reaches the end of the six month training period.

The Kickstart programme is part of the UK government’s Plan for Jobs initiative, helping get people into work by subsidising their salaries during training.

Under the scheme, wages and costs are paid to the candidate by the government and passed on to the employer. The funding covers 100 per cent of the National Minimum Wage – or the National Living Wage, depending on the age of the participant – for 25 hours a week for a total of six months. Employers can pay a higher wage and for more hours, but the funding does not cover this.

The Gym Group committed to the Kickstart programme last year and was initially approved for 150 places. It currently has around 90 trainees going through the programme, however, CEO, Richard Darwin, says the company is in the process of applying for additional places as part of its commitment to ‘driving social value in communities’.

“We’re a people-focused business,” says Darwin, “and are proud to play an important role in supporting local communities.

“Sustainability is a key focus for us and we’re keen to do what we can to help young individuals succeed in the world of fitness. Young people have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and schemes like this offer them the skills and tools needed to succeed in this thriving industry.”

As a low-cost operator, The Gym Group – which currently has around 180 sites – has minimal staffing levels and relies on PTs to deliver services for members. The company has had an ambition to ‘grow its own’ for some time, to ensure it has enough well-trained staff to support its development pipeline, so the Kickstart scheme fits the bill well.

The programme
The Gym Group offers Kickstart recruits an intensive scheme which includes practical and academic support. The aim is to give trainees the tools to build a personal training business and the chance to find a permanent home with the company.

Candidates are given on-the-job training and the opportunity to achieve Level 2 and Level 3 qualifications in fitness instructing and personal training, as well as a first aid qualifications and their first year’s insurance. They’re then supported to further develop their skills and build a successful business.

Minister for employment, Mims Davies, visited The Gym Group’s West Croydon site in June, to meet current and recently-hired Kickstart recruits and hear about their experiences. She said: “It’s fantastic to see the Gym Group backing this scheme, helping our next generation get on track and develop the core skills needed to excel in the fitness industry.”

Kickstart recruit Molly John said: “It was a genuine visit from the minister and great to see her enthusiasm for the work she’s doing and how it’s affecting the lives of the young people involved. She definitely wanted to hear about us and our journey. It was a pleasure to have met her and hear how she plans to continue the changes she’s implementing.”

Watch the video: www.HCMmag.com/transform

Creating social value – the big picture
A recent report on The Gym Group indicates the company generated £1.8bn in social value between 2016 and 2021

• The research was undertaken by Sheffield Hallam University and establishes The Gym Group as the first private-sector UK company to commission an analysis of the social value created by its business.

• The methodology, initially commissioned by Sport England and the government, uses a Social Value Calculator developed by 4global in partnership with Sheffield Hallam University and socio-economic data provider Experian.

• The outputs of the model are split into four core categories: health, subjective wellbeing, education and crime and are driven by the number of people exercising, frequency of activity, demographics and socio-economic factors.

• The Gym Group has been backed in part by Bridges Ventures since launch, with Bridges’ social mandate influencing the way it operates. n Bridges has four aims in making investments – healthier lives, future skills, a sustainable planet and stronger communities - hence the synergies with The Gym Group.

photo: The gym group

"Young people have been hit hard by the pandemic, and schemes like Kickstart offer them the skills and tools needed to succeed in our thriving industry" –  Richard Darwin, CEO, The Gym Group

Originally published in Health Club Management 2021 issue 7

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