When it comes to recruiting Personal Trainers, “it’s going to be harder to find them and harder to keep them.” – Ryan Koski, VFA Learning.
I’m grateful to have had a recent catch-up with Ryan Koski of VFA Learning. He outlined for me the recent changes to the Fitness training packages. It’s clear that these changes are going to have a significant impact on the way in clubs and studios recruit their fitness teams in the future.
If you’re not already aware of key changes, note the following;
Cert III in Fitness will effectively disappear.
New rules stipulate that the Cert III in Fitness is not allowed to be any shorter than 12 months in duration and the Cert IV in Personal Training no shorter than 6 months.* On the face of it, this is 18 months to get a Cert IV in Personal Training.
However, to begin a Cert IV does not require the completed Cert III. It only requires certain key competencies. So expect to see many RTOs forgoing the full Cert III in favour of an abridged, incomplete Cert III that will lead directly into the Cert IV.
For example, VFA Learning will be offering a ‘Foundation’ course that covers the key units required to enter into a Cert IV in Personal Training. And instead of 18 months to completion, the time to qualification will be reduced to a (still significant) 12 months.
Entry into a fitness course is now a lot tougher.
Where pretty much anyone could enter a fitness course in the past, there is now an assessment process that assesses writing, maths and reasoning skills, ensuring that people are capable of fulfilling the obligations of the course. Included in this process is an ability to demonstrate an enthusiasm and passion for the topic. Ryan says that they are already noticing a significant increase in the calibre and commitment of students coming through. This initial assessment also confirms their ability to source work experience, because…
Work experience is now compulsory for all fitness courses.
Compulsory work experience has not previously been a part of fitness course requirements. Under the new Training package, work experience hours are compulsory. Between the key units of the Cert III and the Cert IV, students must complete 45 hours of work experience. Sure, it’s nothing like the hundreds of hours required for Childcare courses, for example, but it’s a step in the right direction.
All of these changes will provide us with a higher standard of entry-level candidates, but it does mean fewer candidates overall.
With more clubs and fewer graduates, we need to be smarter recruiters.
Graduation numbers are declining but demand for Trainers is on the increase. As a result, recruiting for Personal Trainers is going to require a more considered approach. The good news is, there are a few things we can do right away to supplement the traditional job ad.
1. Embrace the opportunity to host work experience candidates.
You can train for skill, but you can’t train for attitude. Taking on a work experience candidate is the greatest, non-committal method of assessing a candidate’s capabilities. These students are obviously not about to start work soon, and you may not even need them, but it’s important to build a network of key people to approach as soon as you get the sense you may need a new team member.
To help in this regard, HealthyPeople will be working with leading RTOs to assist new students with promotion to employers in their area as looking for work experience opportunities.
2. Connect with local candidates.
Just like prospecting for members, employers should consider spending a few minutes a week prospecting for great staff. To this end, HealthyPeople provides every fitness employer with a searchable list of candidates within 15km of their facility. You can sort by recently active, job type, keywords, and qualifications. It’s a chance to get yourself in front of key candidates and build the relationship ahead of the available position.
3. Support and develop those you have on board.
Sure, this goes without saying, but it’s worth taking a closer look at things in light of increased competition. Rather than assume that staff are satisfied, has there been any opportunity for them to express otherwise? Do you know their fitness career aspirations? Is there anything that can be done to bring these goals closer? Do you have a structured program to support professional development (a budget, for example, based on years in the role)? Are your managers are on board? Losing great staff because of bad managers is not unheard of.
Fitness staff are the most important elements of any fitness business. Employers should be prepared to find there is no longer a glut of ordinary applications, but a limited supply of highly employable candidates. To make sure you’re well connected to the best staff and students as they become available, please review the modern recruiting options that HealthyPeople now has available.
*The reasoning being that people doing Cert III need more time to get their head around new concepts while those in a Cert IV are more experienced at studying and can more easily take on new concepts.