Our work programme and main activities contribute to the development and implementation of policy and actions of Community cooperation in the field of education and training by developing and implementing the strategy for Life Long Learning in the Sport and Active Leisure sector in support of the elements of the European White Paper on Sport published by the European Commission in July 2007 especially related to Vocational Qualifications, EQF and ECVET, and the goal of supporting the mobility of workers across Europe within a quality assurance framework of occupational standards (EQARF), vocational training and qualifications developed and supported by social partners within the Sport and Active Leisure sector and endorsed by the relevant National Authorities.
Recently, through the EQF-Sport project (run by EOSE between 2007-2008), the common Lifelong Learning Strategy
to develop occupational standards has been developed for the whole Sport and Active Leisure sector (see figure below) and, in order to be able to highlight relevant competences needed by the workforce, the first step of that process consists on being able to define precisely the Sport and Active Leisure sector and to have an updated overview at the European Level including the main characteristics, statistics, data, changes and realities in terms of Labour Market, Education etc.
One of the key objectives of EOSE is now to use the classifications revised through the EQF-Sport project (2008) for Activities (NEARS) and Occupations (NEORS) in each of the member states to collect comparable data and be in position to obtain a precise map of employment for the sector. Indeed, it is important for the sector to be able to present itself as an important element of the economy but the lack of updated data available to define the sector (Vocasport, 2004) seriously reduce and limit its economic and employment value and impact at the European level.
The sector is actually underestimated and there is a strong need expressed by all key stakeholders and EU Sport Networks part of the Alliance to conduct a large EU research project activity to be able to collect relevant and comparable data and so define the sector precisely with strong data and facts. Such employment statistics and LMI are essential if the sector is to achieve the recognition it deserves. It is encouraging to see that the white paper has recognised the lack of up to date and comparable data at the EU level and encourage further research at the European level.
The sector is growing fast across EU and, as it was highlighted through past activities carried out, the employers are seeking well trained employees able to match the requirements of a more demanding clientele. Overall, there is a gap between the competencies required by sport employers and the learning outcomes acquired by employees through training.
THE IMPORTANCE OF SKILLS
Acknowledgement of the importance of a competent and qualified workforce is crucial and the task of EOSE is therefore of great significance and look forward to dialogue on a regularly basis with the European Commission and obtain a strong support on the importance of this work for the sector.
Sport is a people-facing sector, where the engagement of others, whether this is at the grass roots or high performance end of the spectrum, is paramount to its success. Moreover, sport is ingrained across all communities, affecting a large percentage of the population, and is used to address wider Government agendas including health, social inclusion, regeneration and education. If we are to meet these challenges, it is imperative that those working or volunteering in face to face roles, at the delivery end of the sector, are equipped with the necessary skills through fit for purpose qualifications.
The White Paper has presented a new opportunity for EOSE, the Alliance and the Sport sector to continue the work undertaken insofar as this paper encourages and highlights the importance of our main areas of interest which are Vocational Education and Training (VET), Social Dialogue and Health and Physical Activity.
THE NEED FOR RECOGNITION
As the European Union continues to expand, the Commission has placed an increased emphasis on increasing the mobility of workers. Simultaneously, as the Sport and Active Leisure sector continues to grow and flourish, employers are constantly seeking a range of competent and qualified individuals, who are often difficult to find on the European labour market. VET is practically non-existent or very limited in the sports sector in a number of countries and there is a current lack of co-ordination at the European level, which clearly limits staff mobility, transparency and employment potential. Through EOSE, the sector is trying to organise itself at the European level to respond to the VET challenges.
SUMMARISING OUR PRIORITIES AND CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE EU SPORT SECTOR
A continued commitment to developing a mobile workforce through a transparent VET system is of great importance to Sport. The support and recognition given by the Commission to date has been most welcome and our mission will remain the same for the sector “More people, better skilled, better qualified”.
It is encouraging to see that the White Paper acknowledges the skills agenda. The influence of European Organisations and the role they can play must also be recognised to allow the effective mobilisation of the sport sector through the Commission.
It is also very encouraging to consider the initiative “New Skills for New Jobs” highlighting 4 main areas of focus which are:
• Better functioning of EU labour markets
• Right skills for right jobs
• Improving the quality of work and working conditions
• Creating jobs
In other words, this initiative recognise the need for a competent workforce with the right skills and it objectives to “modernise labour markets and empower people by developing their skills throughout their lifecycle with a view to increase labour participation and better match labour supply and demand, including through labour mobility.”