An apprenticeship may be a viable alternative to the current fitness trainer qualifications that involve completing an 8 week course with minimal practical experience.
I find it very strange why a personal trainer or a fitness trainer is not viewed as a trade, there are numerous professions that involve attending a trade school over a 2 -3 year period in conjunction with practical work experience.
Yesterday I spoke with Joe, the Administrative Officer at the School of Hairdressing at Victoria University about the current hairdressing course, curriculum requirements and how this relates to the hairdressing apprenticeship.
Currently the students must complete 17 subjects of study that equates to 80 days over a 3 year period, the student determines the frequency of attendance, typically they may elect to attend 1 day at the University per week over the three-year period from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM or 6.5 contact hours per day. To satisfactory pass the course, the student must reach a level of competency for each of the 17 units.
The practical component of the course is the apprenticeship which the student attends on either a full-time or part-time capacity. The underlining criteria is that the student gains the underpinning knowledge of their craft together with a level of competency based on their school attendance. As with most trades, the practical component reinforces any knowledge and experience gained from their curriculum, so immediately after learning a new skill or piece of information, they have immediate opportunity to put this into a practical application.
The students must complete a total of 300 hours of practical and course attendance, the fundamental idea behind the apprenticeship is that the student hasn’t achieved the status of being a qualified hairdresser until they have completed both the practical and course requirements. This provides a nurturing and conducive environment in providing a fully qualified and work ready hairdresser by receiving the necessary guidance and on-the-job skill training from their employer in gaining real-life experience executing their knowledge.
Unfortunately this Australian government has taken resources away from the apprenticeship system, whereby most trades are experiencing a decline in the uptake of apprentices due to lack of funding to the employers to provide the necessary training and guidance during the apprenticeship. During this period of training, the employer needs to allocate the necessary resources in terms of staff to satisfactorily train the apprentice as the apprentice is gaining the necessary skills and applying them in a supervised environment.
One very impressive initiatives being undertaken next year is monitoring the application of the curriculum to every hairdressing student. A representative from the University/school will attend the workplace of the student to manage their on-site training. This would involve discussions with their employer and other work colleagues about the student’s competency, the application of the information learned, assessment of their on-the-job performance and ensuring that the apprenticeship arrangement is working well for both parties. This will take place four times per year and this practice will reinforce the students practical knowledge and application of skills.
The fitness industry needs to adopt a similar approach to provide a work ready fitness trainer into the workforce, rather than an eight week course where I they receive a free iPod upon signing up and upon completion of the course they can potentially injure the participant.
If the allied health industry is to take fitness trainers/fitness professionals seriously then there needs to be a radical rethink of the current academic and practical application of the current curriculum. Condensing anatomy, human movement, kinesiology, injury management and the practical component of the courses into such a short period cannot possibly produce the best outcome.
Why would a carpenter, plumber or hairdresser be required to complete a three-year apprenticeship rather than pack it all into an eight week course with no on-the-job training if this was a viable option.