Midlands company helps deliver sports qualifications

Digital platform leads to 18,000 sports qualifications during lockdown.

Midlands-based digital product studio Freestyle has been commissioned by the Chartered Institute for the Management of Sport and Physical Activity to create a digital solution to upskill the sporting workforce during the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to research by CIMSPA, 30,000 professionals planned to leave the sport and physical activity industries during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sport England commissioned CIMSPA to deliver ReTrain – a £1.5 million training initiative, designed to retool the sport and physical activity workforce. The project enabled eligible employers to either maintain their pre-Covid programme or to enhance it further.

Freestyle built an online platform that matched CIMSPA training providers with employers to support the workforce through downtime and return with more skills post-pandemic. The platform enabled CIMSPA to identify local demand and match it with quality supply through visibility across the platform. This meant that courses could be delivered efficiently, reducing the risk of cancellation, and ensuring public funding was used in the best way possible.

“The operational delivery of the ReTrain project was centred on the bespoke, purpose-built platform that Freestyle designed. They were efficient, agile and flexible, responding to our and all user needs and ensured we remained on track in building a robust platform, integral to ReTrain’s success,” says Spencer Moore, director of strategy at CIMSPA.

Since launching in August 2020, ReTrain has supported almost 100 employers including public leisure providers, leisure trusts and small businesses. This has resulted in 18,000 qualifications gained during lockdown and more than 600 training requests in the first two months of launch from employers all over the country.

This training has strengthened the skills of the sports and physical activity workforce, providing better support to the public returning to exercise and leisure facilities when the highly anticipated lift on restrictions finally happened.

“When we started working on ReTrain, there was no government roadmap for reopening the nation,” says Alan Cooper, co-founder at Freestyle. “We worked with an agile methodology to deliver the product at pace. The ReTrain app took eleven weeks to complete, but we launched the minimum viable product four weeks after receiving the initial brief meaning CIMSPA were able to smash through their targets and deliver the project as planned”.

“Freestyle was responsive, efficient and above all their expertise made the process of scoping and building the web app both smooth and successful. We adopted a clear sprint approach, and they kept us on track to meet project priorities and timelines,” says Leon Smith, ReTrain course coordinator.

Following the success of ReTrain, Sport England has confirmed plans to invest £5 million in ReTrain to Retain. This new programme, also delivered by CIMSPA, will support up to 25,000 sports and fitness coaches who have had to find work outside of the sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic.