In February 2020, the opportunity came for us here at Yorkshire Sport Foundation to launch the first sport apprenticeship scheme across Leeds. At the end of National Apprenticeship Week 2022, our Workforce Manager, Lauren Havefcroft, looks back on the last couple of years.
The Coach Core Leeds programme is the first sport apprenticeship programme for the city. The Coach Core Foundation are nationwide and have similar schemes set up in Birmingham, London and Leicester. The aim of the this project was to launch a programme filled with opportunities for young people to gain experience and develop themselves through sport and coaching. We wanted to have 14 apprenticeship opportunity hosted by a range of organisations from across the city, and the intention is to grow the programme now we are heading into our second cohort.
We knew that this was a project that could potentially transform the lives of some young people. With some hard work, belief and the trust from partners Coach Core, we launched with a small number of the organizations. We moved all of our recruitment online as the pandemic took hold, and despite the general chaos that everyone was going through with new ways of working, we managed to run a successful two-day recruitment event. Then came the task of matching apprentices with the right organisation began.
It took almost two weeks, involving many back and forth conversations between organisations and candidates to find the right fit for everyone and amongst this we had one organisation taking the lead of its own recruitment. This approach is one of the many great things about the Coach Core programme – it allows for such flexibility that really creates an environment where the organisations involved can work to the best of their abilities. With one place left to fill, the Coach Core Leeds Apprenticeship programme was launched and we faced an exciting 15-month journey ahead.
As inductions and introductions took place over the first few weeks, so did the start of the Level 2 Community Activator qualification. This gave the apprentices a taste of the skills and knowledge they would need to succeed in the delivery aspect of their role. A little closer to home, with our Yorkshire Sport Foundation apprentice it was a mixture of meeting the team, completing the induction courses, getting to grips with remote working from home and understanding what the organisation does – information overload!
Sitting with two hats on as part of this project has allowed me to fully immerse into the Coach Core programme. The relationships I have built with the Coach Core team has been invaluable and I believe will only grow and develop to will unlock even more potential across South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.
One of the real benefits of having other organisations within the consortium, going through the same process as you, is that you can share ideas, problems and opportunities. We have seen our fair share of all of these i and I think one thing has come up time and time again is that the young people of today need more support than ever.
Reflecting on my own personal experience of becoming independent and getting my first job, it seemed pretty straightforward and I never really thought about when I learnt how to conduct myself in a workplace environment, communicate with colleagues, or ensure I got myself to where I needed to be on time. It all seemed natural to me and not something I had ever needed to be taught, not even at school. However, having been part of this programme I have realized that there is a gap in the system that has let some young people fall through and not fully understand that these values are vital when representing yourself in a professional environment.
“The highlight of my experience has been the different communities I’ve had the chance to work with.”
— Yorkshire Sport Fndn (@YorkshireSport) February 11, 2022
As we are coming to the end of this pilot project, it is humbling to learn how so many of the apprentices have secured either full-time or part-time employment. Others are continuing their learning journey through the next cohort as a level 3 apprentice or going in other educational and learning directions, and that is exactly the result we set out to achieve and albeit a small success in terms of numbers, we now have the foundations to grow this into its true potential.
We have helped the right people in the right places and we now have the evidence to prove that this way of working and developing is the way forward when looking to strengthen and secure the workforce of the future.
If you want to be part of the next Coach Core Leeds Apprenticeship programme then sign up for our Leeds showcase virtual event on Thursday 10 March.