Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance

Qualifications and an Employer-Led System: Recruitment Practices in the UK Fitness Industry

Current UK skills policy is centred on the need to drive up qualification obtainment and make the system more employer-led with Sector Skills Councils (SSC) being given the role of articulating the ‘voice’ of employers. Through a study of recruitment and selection processes in the fitness industry, this paper explores employers’ attitudes to existing qualifications and whether their skill needs are being identified by their SSC. It also considers the broader implications of an employer-led system. The research is based upon interviews undertaken in 17 gyms, focusing on the occupation of fitness instructor. The paper examines who does the recruitment and selection, what qualifications and skills are actually being recruited and how this relates to subsequent training levels. The findings reveal that managers adopt a wide range of approaches in how they recruit, train and value qualifications on the labour market. Although qualifications in this sector are important in recruitment and some improvements have been made in raising skill levels, the over-supply of ‘qualified’ workers means there is little incentive for most employers to tackle low wages or improve opportunities for training and development.

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