CIMSPA labour market intelligence / introducing member eLearning


Tara Dillon, Chief Executive Officer, CIMSPA
Ian Doherty, Client Services Manager, CIMSPA


Tara introduced the session with an overview of the CIMSPA labour market intelligence (LMI) process and explained that its aim is to provide an annual report on the state of the sport and physical activity sector’s workforce. Tara outlined that there are two elements to the project – one survey aimed at employers and one aimed at employees.

The first set of surveys has now been completed and the report is currently being compiled. Tara reiterated the importance of as many employers and employees completing the surveys as possible to ensure the best possible data and made a call to action to employers present at the session to participate in future surveys.



Tara outlined that this session would focus on some of the heading figures and that the full report will follow within the next 4-6 weeks. CIMSPA employer partners will get a free copy of the report, whereas there will be a fee for non-partners.   

Headline figures

Q. What is the male to female split within our sector?
A. 54% male – 46% female

Q. Is there a gender pay gap?
A. Yes average male salary £31.5k, average female salary £24.6k (gap of £6,950)

Q. Diversity – percentage of white people in our sector?
A. 96%

Q. How long do employees stay in their current job role?
A. 5 years

Q. What are the top five customer complaints?
A. Activity / class / session quality, centre cleanliness, staff helpfulness, staff attentiveness, broken equipment.

Q. Percentage of turnover spent on training?
A. 0.5%

Detailed breakdown

A more detailed drill down into the statistics revealed that 60% of respondents were from a management role, with 40% being from technical roles with the top 5 of each being:

Management Technical
Duty manager Fitness Instructor
Centre Manager Receptionist
Senior Manager Group Exercise Instructor
Sports Development Manager Swimming Teacher
Contract Manager & Fitness Manager (equal place) Personal Trainer

Tara then outlined that the data showed that females tended to be paid more in technical roles and males more in management roles. The rationale behind this could be due to females taking time out of employment to have children. When they seek employment again after a number of years they are placed at the bottom of the pay scale as opposed to their male counterparts who have amassed additional years of experience and have worked their way up the pay scale.

Additionally technical roles tend to be more flexible and offer those with children wider choice over the hours they work.

Tara then moved on to discuss the differential between full and part time work between males and females. The data showed that the majority of people in full time management roles are male, whereas females take the lead in higher technical roles.

Tara summarised that this shows our sector is not overly adept at being flexible with initiatives such as job shares for more senior management positions such as general managers / CEOs and is something we should look into to allow females who have chosen to have children the opportunity to take on these more senior roles.


More positively, our sector seems to perform well in relation to diversity for those with a disability, condition or illness. 12% of respondents identified they had a disability, condition or illness with the highest percentage being autism and dyslexia. 

  • 35% of these were employed in a technical role
  • 65% of these were employed in a management role

Tara summarised that these figures are in fact higher than the average uptake in the same roles. So, we offer equal opportunities but our profile of BAME and disabled employees is starting from a low base.

Are we looking after our staff?

On average we are keeping our staff for longer (5 years) – this has risen from 3 years when a survey of this last type was carried out.

More men are looking to leave their current job than women (41% male, 29% female). The main reasons for wanting to leave were: salary, lack of benefits and poor management.

75% of men in emerging manager roles (duty manager etc.) are currently looking for a new job. These are predominantly 25-32 year olds. Scarily 40% of these are looking for a new job outside of our sector.

With the exception of group exercise and contract manager, women stay in their roles longer than men, but more contract managers are looking for a new job even though they have the second highest average salary.

Training needs

A clear majority of those asked were looking for more training in management, and employers too highlighted first line management as their training priority. This would go some way to explaining why first line management is where we currently see the biggest drop off of staff leaving employment. If we were to address training in this area we may see higher rates of retention.

Employers believe they get the most value out of leadership, communication skills and customer management training areas, yet have identified leadership, managing others and business planning as most required for management training.

Employees say that the most common training they receive is the statutory health and safety courses with customer management and team management at the bottom of the list.

Training split within the sector:

Technical Quals In House Training Management
We qualify our technical staff 52% 45% 3%
We qualify our management staff 37% 36% 28%

Tara asked the question, Why do we stop training our best so young and at a pivotal point in their careers? Is it down to spend?

  • 0.5% of turnover spent on training.
  • How much more is spent on recruiting and retraining?
  • So how much is our sector’s staff attrition really costing?

Tara summarised if we invested more in quality training and CPD for our employees it would save an awful lot of money in the long term. Employers said that staff poor performance costs up to 60 hrs per year and around £5.5K, this does not include the cost of losing custom – real or potential? Do we really need to revisit that investing in meaningful training, particularly in management as this will make a difference to retention and bottom line!

What is CIMSPA doing to help?

Tara outlined the importance of quality assured training and that CIMSPA has a growing network of approved skills development partners that employers can tap into. Furthermore CIMSPA is going one step further to help address training around management by launching the CIMSPA Academy.

Ian Doherty, CIMSPA

Ian Doherty, CIMSPA


Ian introduced the concept of the CIMSPA Academy – an online eLearning platform with over 2000+ pieces of training covering the following topics:

  • Communication skills
  • Managing people
  • Business management
  • Compliance and regulatory
  • Coaching skills
  • Personal development
  • Written English
  • IT Skills
  • Customer service
  • Sales
  • Finance

Phase 1 of the CIMSPA Academy is to give CIMSPA members access to the platform, included in their membership subscription fee. When the academy is launched members will have access to 34 pieces of learning, with more being added on a quarterly basis, giving ongoing access to varied CPD opportunities.

The value of the whole training package is in the region of £10k – so within the context of a membership costing £30 – £230, this provides excellent value for money.

Ian outlined that the CIMSPA Academy is currently being piloted by our partners at Active Nation. Following a successful pilot, CIMSPA plans to launch the academy to all of its existing members in April.

Phase 2 – Employer Partners

Ian then went on to outline phase 2 of the CIMSPA Academy, aimed at providing employers with a bespoke training management system for their organisation. They will be able to:

  • Have their own branded version of the CIMSPA Academy and select which of the 2000+ courses they would like their employees to have access to – depending on their training needs analysis.
  • Monitor compliance – using a traffic light system, individual employees will be monitored to ensure they are completing the training you have set as their employer.
  • Performance management – can be tied into personal development reviews. Line managers can send courses to individuals to complete following their development reviews to ensure ongoing CPD and continual improvement.
  • Coaching and mentoring – the system allows you to setup an internal network to put junior colleagues in touch with senior colleagues with similar interests / skill sets to aid with mentoring, coaching and personal development.
  • Staff surveys – a functional 360 feedback system allows employers to gain valuable feedback from their employees to help with morale and retention.
  • Programme authoring – perhaps the most powerful element of the system – allow employers to create their own eLearning courses. Move your inductions online, upload policies and procedures and report on when employees have downloaded / read them.

Ian went on to outline this platform will be a major benefit to employers. A pilot will be taking place over the summer with partners at Everybody Sport and Recreation. Following a successful pilot CIMSPA hopes to have this product available later in 2017.

Ian mentioned that this product would be exclusively for CIMSPA employer partners and those who are not currently in partnership could sign up online at

Tara outlined that whilst this product will not be free for employers and an exact costing model has not yet been agreed, it will be significantly cheaper than existing off the shelf products which cost upwards of £70k and bespoke products costing upwards of £250k.

All CIMSPA employer partners will be contacted once further information is available.


Tara Dillon

Ian Doherty