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By GM Active | 19 June 2024 | TAGS: GM Active, Workforce, Leisure

A first cohort of 25 is embarking on the Aspiring Managers’ Programme jointly devised by Future Fit, which specialises in workplace qualifications, and GM Active, a collective of 12 leisure and community organisations that manage the majority of the publicly owned leisure and physical activity assets on behalf of GM’s 10 local authorities.

The new qualification dovetails with three other GM Active-Future Fit training schemes – transformational leaders, digital staff induction and a skills academy – with the new online programme made up of modules on leadership and management; equality, diversity and inclusion; leading a team; managing projects and budgeting. 

It is all framed within the Pivot to Active Wellbeing, GM Active’s ambitious change project involving all local authority leisure operators across GM.

The pivot aims to change how local leisure centres, swimming pools, fitness facilities and services, cultural venues and outdoor leisure spaces provided by GM Active’s 12 member organisations are perceived and used by effectively partnering with health and wellness providers to place greater emphasis on health and wellbeing instead of being purely focused on fitness.

Hazel Goudie, Future Fit’s Head of Teaching and Learning, says: “The leisure sector is vast and multi-faceted with everyone involved wanting to support and encourage customers and the wider community with health and wellbeing.

“But the sector needs educated and confident managers to help drive this forward. This qualification, and the others we’ve worked on with GM Active, helps the pivot by offering the knowledge to staff across all areas of an organisation, providing them with the leadership skills and confidence to drive the sector forward.”

GM Active Chair, Andy King, a director at change consultants Miova, adds: “Our sector is notoriously poor for developing at level 3 and 4, so we wanted to ensure if we developed our new and aspiring managers that any programme included whole systems and place-based working combined with other operational skills, which it does. The sector could do with this, for sure.” 

The other training strands put in place by GM Active and Future Fit are:

  • Transformational Leadership Programme – which has so far steered 80 leaders across the GM ecosystem away from being ‘fitness and facilities’ managers to become future leaders of public health, wellbeing and communities. The aim now is to train 40 would-be leaders a year.
  • GM Active Skills Academy - this includes behavioural change training and working with people with cancer, who get the support they need from GM Active’s multi award-winning Prehab4Cancer It features modules on empathy, emotional resilience, and mental health available via a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) hub.
  • Digital staff induction – ensuring that everyone among the 3,500 staff working within GM Active’s 12 member organisations feels bought into the GM Active mission and understands the crucial role they can play in the wider system.


Tom Godwin, Future Fit’s Group Operations Director, says: “The industry has historically struggled with staff retention. A lot of that is down to the perception of the work they do, but by upskilling staff with extra training and appropriate qualifications, so they can reach specific populations, it can make them feel more valued as a critical part of the wider public health workforce rather than a leisure or cultural trust employee.

“As a sector, there are many junior managers suffering from poor training when it comes to the skills and behaviours it takes to be a good manager. 

“We hope the Aspiring Managers’ Programme will provide the foundational skills that managers can build on to help drive forwards the future of leisure.”

You can read more about Future Fit’s Strategic Business Partner relationship with GM Active in its blog here, while information about all the training schemes can be accessed via the GM Active home page.

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