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CIMSPA report highlights need to diversify workforce

The Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity (CIMSPA) have published The Workforce Insight Report 2023, produced in partnership with Lightcast.

Catherine, a disabled personal trainer supporting client in the gym

The CIMSPA report comes three years after its previous edition. It sheds light on how the sector has recovered following the COVID-19 pandemic. It also examines how current economic challenges are affecting workforce dynamics.

The extensive document focuses on the composition of the workforce and its evolution in recent years. The findings illustrate some of the changes and challenges that the sector is facing, providing insights to help organisations plan for their own workforce development.

It explores the workforce demographic, amongst other topics. It found that overall, disabled people account for 13% of workers within the sport and physical activity (S&PA) workforce. This is 20% lower than the overall workforce, with all S&PA occupations having a lower than the average (16%) share of disabled workers.

Sports players in particular stand out for having the lowest share of disabled workers (only 6%). The report suggests this could be reflective of the physical demands of these roles. It also shows significant barriers to inclusive opportunities in the sectors, such as lack of reasonable adjustments and the prohibitive costs of adapted sports equipment.

Tim Hollingsworth, CEO of Sport England, commented on the release:

"The publication of this Insight Report gives us a valuable picture of our sector and the people who make up the sport and physical activity workforce.It builds upon Sport England’s Active Lives Survey data and will be enormously useful for those looking to understand the makeup and skills of those working in the sector.
"It shows that, whilst the coronavirus pandemic was enormously challenging for many, the sector has been remarkably resilient and is making progress as we head into 2024.
"Yet, while there are positives in this report, it also highlights how much there is still to do, especially in terms of increasing our diversity so that our workforce is truly representative of modern England. To do this successfully it will be vital to listen carefully to people from under-represented groups and put their lived experiences at the heart of our solutions. We are in no doubt the scale of the challenge, but it is one we will work hard tackle head on."

CIMSPA have released a series of recommendations as part of the report. One focusses on improving the diversity of the sport and physical activity workforce. It states:

Engaging more of the population in sport, fitness and leisure requires a more diverse and inclusive workforce. In comparison to the wider economy, our sector lacks diversity and for some communities has poor representation which is a barrier to participation. The sector needs to approach diversity on all levels if we are to engage more effectively with a wider proportion of the UK, particularly culturally diverse communities and disabled people. Benchmarking against sector norms can provide a useful indicator with support being available from CIMSPA.

Tara Dillon, CEO of CIMSPA said:

"This report not only provides an accurate and comprehensive update on workforce changes and trends over the last three years but an even richer set of insights in relation to how diverse and representative our workforce is and where people work, whether that be for an employer or in their own business.
"The last three years have shown just how well the workforce can not only adapt but also unite. The insights from this report have enabled us to develop a new strategy which we will be using to deliver real impact for people working in the sector, those considering joining our profession, as well as employers, education providers and our system partners.
"We truly believe that by unlocking the power of our profession, the sport and physical activity workforce can make a massive impact on the health, wellbeing and economic prosperity of our nations."

You can read the full report on the CIMSPA website.