WE recently launched a campaign to get 100 young people into apprenticeships within 100 days. Today we profile how the leisure industry is turning to apprentices as it plans for the future

THE leisure industry is fast becoming a favourite among apprentices.

Many regard the new skills they learn as an extension to their sporting pastimes and hobbies.

The Heritage Group on Plover Road in Lindley has taken on five apprentices over the past 18 months.

The leisure centre works closely with vocational training company CMS to help the apprentices gain formal qualifications and get the most out of their practical experience.

Ex-Huddersfield Rugby League player and health academy manager Barry Jacobsz said: “We have been really pleased with the work of our apprentices. One of our latest recruits, Oliver Huntington wants to be a fitness instructor and has now been here for over six months.

“I feel like he has really grown in his maturity, personality and he has also worked on his appearance. He has also had full access to gym and is a fantastic addition to the academy.

“Throughout the apprenticeship he has gathered more experience.

“He began shadowing me and has then eventually taken on a lot more responsibility.

“In an apprentice we are looking for someone who shows they can use their initiative and work hard.

“It is an opportunity for people to test the water and see what they might like to go into in the future.”

One of the Heritage’s past apprentices is now self-employed as a personal trainer.

Oliver, 20, of Linthwaite, went to Colne Valley High School before heading on to Huddersfield New College to do a Btec in sports and exercise science.

He came across the opportunity after a friend of his had worked at the centre and later signed up to CMS to gain his vocational qualifications.

Oliver said: “I really wanted to work in this field and this opportunity came along so I sent my CV in immediately.

“I have been here since February and I am now only a couple of weeks away from completing my level two qualification where I will be able to take fitness classes by myself.

“The experience has changed me and my confidence is at a different level.”

Oliver must gain the level two gym instructor certificate to enter full time employment in the health and fitness industry.

Once he has completed this, he will be able to design specific exercise programmes in either gyms or health clubs.

Although Oliver has the option of entering employment and gaining a pay rise, he has decided to stay on as an apprentice until he gains his level three personal training qualification.

He said both the practical experience and online assistance outlet has helped him.

“The CMS online system allows me to do revision and check on certain stretches and training exercises that I’m not completely sure about,” he said.

“They check up on me weekly to monitor my progress and see how I am getting on at the leisure academy.

“I am so glad I did this. I love getting up and going to work in the morning.”

The other apprentice working at Heritage is 19-year-old customer service adviser Laura Sinkevicute.

The sport and fitness industry is one of the country’s fastest growing sectors, with 650,000 people working in the industry across 230,000 organisations.

Heritage Lofts Centre manager, Danielle Firth said: “We have had five apprentices and we have found it to be a fantastic scheme.

“We have two that we have here at the moment who have been outstanding and we would be happy to have more like them in the future.

“We do hope that we may be able to take these two on full-time at the end of their apprenticeships.”

Both apprentices are signed up to CMS Fitness Academy – a large provider of health and fitness vocational courses in the north of England.

Danielle said: “We have found that CMS has been extremely helpful. In most cases they provide us with CVs and then we narrow down to three candidates for interview.

“Then we take on one person when we need them.”