Why the sector needs to invest in our workforce


Andrew Honeyman, DCMS
Tara Dillon

In this keynote address, Tara Dillon, chief executive officer of CIMSPA, talked to Andrew Honeyman, head of health, workforce and diversity (sport team) at the DCMS.

Honeyman began by explaining how the launch of the government’s Sporting Future strategy in 2015 marked a watershed moment, representing a shift in focus away from sport for the ‘sporty’ to engaging with the inactive.

Since then, the DCMS has published its first annual report highlighting the progress made to date, including the launch of a new code for sports governance and the huge changes being made at Sport England to achieve the five key outcomes set by government.

Hailing Sporting Future as a huge vote of confidence for CIMSPA, Honeyman said the innovation in the sport and physical activity sector, such as exercise referral schemes, joint project working with CCGs, build and design projects as part of town planning and developing a chartered institute, set against a backdrop of recession and austerity, demonstrated that the sector was one that government should be doing business with.



Importantly, government now recognises the impact sport and physical activity has to play, not only in terms of the health benefits, but also social and economic impacts too.

Government has made a lot of noise about ‘professionalising the workforce’, so does it believe that the sector isn’t professional? Not at all, said Honeyman.

“We know that there are a lot of hard working, qualified people working in this sector, but it’s important that your sector is validated as a profession in the same way as medicine, law or accountancy, so that when tell the medical profession to refer people, they recognise the qualifications and have confidence in the skills in the sector.”

Sport and physical activity does not form part of the 15 new technical pathways, identified by government, but Honeyman explained how he and Tara had met the team at the Department of Education to make the case for the sector’s inclusion and that the sports minister, Tracey Crouch, was due to meet her opposing number at the DfE to press the case.

Dillon reiterated her commitment to the cause saying: “Hairdressing and beauty feature on a pathway, but we don’t. That feels very remiss. We are working with ukactive on this and we won’t let this go. We’ll put a question to the house if necessary.”

It’s important that your sector is validated as a profession in the same way as medicine, law or accountancy
— Andrew Honeyman

Honeyman sympathised with the lack of progress being made with trailblazer apprenticeships, saying: “It’s taken a lot of time to get the new standards agreed and they say its teething troubles, I say it needs to get moving quicker. It’s one of the topics my minister will be raising with the minister for skills shortly.”

Honeyman explained that the power of sport and physical activity to deliver different agendas – from mental health to the rehabilitation of offenders – was increasingly being recognised throughout government and he spoke of plans to establish an inter-ministerial group to drive this.

If there was a key message from government that Honeyman wanted to leave with the audience, it was this: “From where I am sitting, CIMSPA is punching well above its weight for an organisation of its size. What they’ve achieved is outstanding. Join us to help fight inactivity and get behind your chartered institute.”