Swim England estimated the nationwide shortage of swimming teachers stood at 6,200 at the start of 2022, with demand for swimming lessons still increasing. But the Institute of Swimming is tackling the problem head on and, despite the pandemic, in the last three years has recruited almost 500 swimming teachers to the sector.
The Institute of Swimming’s Recruitment Academy programme has revolutionised the way swimming teachers join the sector, with its ‘train-to-employ’ model removing the financial barriers that may have previously held people back.
Since its launch in 2019, 473 people have started their training through the Academy, which saw a huge growth in 2022, with around 240 trainees joining the programme. To date, more than 250 teachers have completed their training and are now enjoying employment as swimming teachers, either as a change to their career or complementary to another role.
Rebecca Cox, Institute of Swimming Managing Director, says:
“We can’t sit back waiting for people to join the leisure sector. We need to be out there, removing barriers to entry. The Institute of Swimming has worked hard with its partners and operators to create a solution to combat the national swimming teacher shortage, making it easier for people to retrain. We’ve been brave and looked outwards, engaging with people beyond our own aquatics peripheral view. We can’t just connect with people who love to swim; it’s not where the solution lies. We need to reach out to people who wouldn’t even think it’s a plausible career for them, dispelling myths like ‘you need to be expert athlete’, as well as cultural myths and stigmas.”
The Recruitment Academy is a one-stop-shop for employers to source and recruit swimming teachers of the future. The Institute of Swimming manages the search and recruitment of trainees, supporting them through their training on behalf of employers and ensuring leisure operators receive teachers who are trained to the highest level. The trainee teachers work with potential employers to gain practical experience and valuable advice from mentors.
Trainee swimming teachers receive fully-funded training from their future employer with the only cost to the trainee being a joining fee. In addition to their SEQ Level 1 Swimming Assistant (Teaching) and SEQ Level 2 Teaching Swimming qualifications, they are given Institute of Swimming Membership, including insurance and eLearning opportunities to hone their skills.
The Institute of Swimming’s Academy is focused on attracting candidates looking for a long-term career in leisure, combatting the high turnover of student workers that many pools experience. A swimming teacher trained through the academy is two and half times more likely to be over the age of 25, reversing the trend seen across the swimming teacher workforce.
The academy has also been working with partners to attract swimming teachers from an ethnically diverse community, including initiatives such as Sport England’s Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games legacy project, which is currently searching for 20 new trainees and has 10 already in training.
Cox continues: “Programmes like these remove the financial and cultural barriers to entering aquatics, and the unique marketing opportunity the academy brings has meant a swimming teacher trained through the academy is twice as likely to be culturally representative of the community in which they teach.”
Mark Seymour, Head of Swimming Development, Active Northumberland says:
“Active Northumberland is already running its second swimming teaching academy, with the Institute of Swimming’s initiative already having a big impact on our ability as an operator to recruit highly-skilled swim teachers. It’s fantastic that areas of the county that were notoriously difficult to recruit swimming teachers in have seen people retrain and join our aquatics team. And, with the Academy managing the search and recruitment of trainee teachers, we are able to dedicate more time to children’s swimming development.”
Jacqueline, 57, who is currently retraining through the Institute of Swimming’s academy with Lampton Leisure says:
“I was a stay-at-home mum and as my children got older I wanted part time work that fitted around my therapy and jewellery making business. I considered retail, but didn’t think it was for me due to the long hours and being on my feet all day. I can make teaching swimming a long-term, forever job as it will adapt with me at whatever stage of life I am in. I love to see the children progress in their lessons and that brings me great happiness.
“Learning to be a swimming teacher has been a fantastic experience. Being able to swim doesn’t necessarily make you a good swimming teacher. However, the Institute of Swimming’s courses are very well structured and thorough, and the mentorship gained through shadowing existing swimming teachers means that, on qualifying, you arrive poolside ready to go. If you are thinking you might like to be a swimming teacher, there is no better opportunity.”