Good Practice: How a fitness chain is helping young people into employment

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Transforming a Generation initiative, brainchild of LA Fitness founder Fred Turok, has so far helped more than 1,400 young people not in education, employment or training gain skills and qualifications.

Transforming a Generation offers young people training to get a fitness qualification and paid work experience
Transforming a Generation offers young people training to get a fitness qualification and paid work experience

Project Transforming a Generation

Funding Just over £11m from the Future Jobs Fund

Purpose To help young people into work and shape a new generation of fitness industry employees

Background Transforming a Generation is a charity founded by Fred Turok, chairman of the gym chain LA Fitness and of the Fitness Industry Association.

"It was a chance to help young people but also a boon to the industry," explains public relations manager Alex Delaney. "The fitness industry is short of young people who want to work their way up. Lots of people have degrees and are looking to come into management but we also need people who can see the opportunity for career progression and are keen to work their way up from the bottom."

Action The scheme has been up and running since January 2010, offering a six-month training programme to 18- to 24-year-olds not in education, employment or training during which they can gain a Level 2 fitness qualification and get four and a half months of paid work experience. The aim is to help get them into a job.

Most young people are recruited through Jobcentre Plus but some have also come via community groups and youth services. Training is provided at a range of venues, including community centres, housing estates and Scout halls. Students then get experience in a local gym. The scheme works with providers from the private, voluntary and public sector.

"It has made a huge difference to the young people involved," says Delaney. "Quite a lot of them were young offenders or had the attitude that 'this is my lot in life and I won't do any better'." Many now have jobs and improved their self-esteem. Participants get mentoring and support to find work but one issue has been a shortage of jobs, particularly in the public sector.

Outcome More than 1,400 people have taken part in the programme so far. Ninety per cent completed it and gained qualifications. Fifty-five per cent have got a job while a small number have gone into higher education.

"One of the main things about this scheme is that it has shown that an industry can contribute to solving what is quite a complex social problem," says Delaney. "It was an experiment for the industry but it made commercial sense and has shown you can combine good business with the corporate social responsibility side of things."

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