Virgin Active UK is undertaking a comprehensive apprenticeship programme for Departmental Managers.
The business is putting 111 colleagues - including Sales Managers, Personal Training Managers, Operations Managers, Group Exercise Managers and Assistant General Managers – through the new Level 3 Team Leader Supervisor training in small cohorts and the first group of 14 successfully completed their End-Point Assessments in July.
Working in close partnership with Active IQ, the groups are being trained and assessed in phases, enabling careful management of the process and facilitating efficient cascading of learnings to other groups as they progressed.
This was the first foray into apprenticeships by Virgin Active UK and Jeanette Hartley, Virgin Active UK Apprenticeship Manager, chose Active IQ to ensure all ran smoothly.
Jeanette said: “Active IQ stood out for its impartiality, professionalism and reputation within the industry. The team demonstrated a rigorous process which combined with its renowned integrity and reputation for excellence to shape our decision. Active IQ is easy to work with, flexible with meetings and generous in its feedback and advice: as this was our first venture into offering apprenticeships, this high-level expertise was exactly what we needed to steer us.”
Virgin Active UK embarked upon the new Level 3 Team Leader Supervisor apprenticeship in a bid to recruit more of its senior management population from within the business.
Sean Marcs, Virgin Active UK Learning and Development Business Partner, said: “We identified a skills gap among our management population and sought to develop their knowledge, skills and behaviours to be the best leaders they can be. It was a bold move on our part to enlist over 100 colleagues to this apprenticeship, but we trusted Active IQ implicitly to guide and support us. They share our ethos and values and have a friendly, flexible approach, endless energy and complete commitment to tailoring the training to suit our business.”
Steve Conopo, Active IQ Head of Assessment Services, said: “Virgin Active UK is a terrific organisation that fully embraced the potential of this apprenticeship programme and rightly brought together talent from across its business so colleagues from around the country could meet and learn from each other. Without exception the apprentices engaged fully with the process, embraced their learning and took things straight back into their work environment to put it into practice.
“There is no better way to lock in the new skills than in real time and we were pleased to hear our support resources and workbooks were used in the workplace to reinforce their newly acquired knowledge and bring their new skills into their day-to-day role.”
One of the first apprentices to successfully complete the training and End-point Assessment under the watchful eye of Active IQ is Oliver Bloom. Having started as a Member Services Manager at Aldersgate three years ago, he progressed to Operations Manager at Broadgate before taking his current role as Assistant General Manager at Tower Bridge.
Oliver said: “I learned a huge amount on the programme not least of which how to adapt my natural style and look at different ways of doing things. Being able to meet peers and colleagues from across the different regions proved really valuable as we shared best practice and built rapport. We were guided every step of the way and the Active IQ Toolkits were especially helpful in facilitating my learning and preparing me well for a successful End-point Assessment. I’m now absolutely ready to take on a fully-fledged General Manager role with Virgin Active.”
Elsa Orler, Assistant General Manager at Virgin Active Mayfair, joined the business in September 2016 following six years’ experience at Tonic Fitness Network in her native Italy.
Elsa said: “The Team Leader Supervisor Apprenticeship really developed my knowledge and expanded my management skills. Taking my learning straight into work and putting it into practice brought it to life in the club and helped me remember the new skills. I have the Active IQ resources in-club each day for cross-reference and they are good materials to share with my team on a daily basis.
“I started out as a PT and fitness coach, working my way up. Being selected for this new Team Leader Supervisor training and qualification was a great opportunity that has given me the tools and confidence to take the next step in my career within Virgin Active UK.”