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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 January 2020  

Employability through Fitness

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Who funds the Project?

Proteus (NI) Ltd is one of a number of funding bodies in Northern Ireland responsible for the administration of European Union funding programmes.   Employability Through Fitness (ETF) is a new project set up through the partnership with Proteus (NI) Ltd and Coaching NI. ‘Employability Through Fitness’ is managed by Coaching NI and the project will help Proteus’ European and Social Fund achieve its main outputs, results and impacts. Like many industries in Northern Ireland, both the community/volunteer sector and the fitness industry continue to develop through peace.

What is the Project about?

Peace has led to increased investment from local funding organisations to develop community infrastructure, and the fitness industry is booming with massive investments from off shore companies in new health clubs.  Local borough councils and sports clubs are taking the opportunities provided through peace, to build new leisure centres and fitness centres that will service the local communities. In Belfast alone there are currently 40 private health clubs, 12 leisure centre gyms and over 30 community/sports club based gyms.

The biggest problem for these clubs and gyms is having access to qualified employees. ETF strives to address the gap between supply and demand by providing innovative vocational training and personal development programmes to 120 people over the next two years. These people may have an interest in fitness, are already involved as voluntary coaches at local sports clubs, and should capture this life changing opportunity with both hands.

ETF will co-ordinate and link these newly trained instructors with employers throughout Northern Ireland, with the support of existing sport networks. This project will lead to the development of 120 skilled fitness professionals in the “added value” jobs that require specialist skills and knowledge. ETF intends to utilise its “Professional Fitness Instructor Award” as the central initiative for this project.    


Objectives of the Project:

  • To use sport and fitness as a means of increasing employability with the unemployed and underemployed;
  • To train individuals and improve their employability;
  • Facilitate the development of friendship building;
  • To bridge the gap between supply and demand in the fitness industry in Northern Ireland;
  • Build links with private sector Health Clubs, Local Authority Leisure Centres and community based Health Groups; and
  • Link newly trained instructors with employers throughout Northern Ireland.

Professional Fitness Instructor Award

The Professional Fitness Instructor Award has been designed by a team of Sports Scientists and Professional Fitness Instructors. The course has been structured around the national competence standards for Exercise and Fitness.

The course enables people to train and become fitness instructors who will supervise and instruct customers of health and fitness suites. The course is accredited at level 2 industry recognised award and is recognised for entry to the Register of Exercise Professionals.

For these participants to gain further experience each individual will undertake 12 hours coaching in the local community over a 6 week period. These people will gain work experience, working with qualified staff at private health clubs, leisure centres and sports clubs throughout Northern Ireland.

How much does the Programme cost?

ETF will ask individuals chosen to be involved with the programme to pay £100 deposit (which will be made refundable upon completion of the course) to confirm their place on the course. 6 people chosen to be trained as Assessors and Trainers will also pay a further deposit of £100, which will be also refundable after that course is completed.

What does the Programme involve?

The training for all courses will consist of an industry recognised Fitness Instructor Qualification, and personal development training, such as CV writing skills and public speaking.

Where are the courses taking Place?

First Programme will take place in the Belfast neighbourhood

Second programme in the Derry/Londonderry neighbourhood

Third programme in Antrim/Ballymena/Newtownabbey areas

Fourth programme in Belfast neighbourhood

Fifth programme in the Craigavon/Portadown areas

Sixth programme will be aimed at women across the Greater Belfast and surrounding areas.


Forms can be requested by contacting ETF at Sport NI on 028 90 383806

or downloaded by clicking here.

For further information contact:                

Adrian Dalton
Project Coordinator

House of Sport

Upper Malone Road

Belfast BT9 5LA

Telephone: 028 90 383806

[email protected]



Total project cost £750,000

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Last modified: Wednesday
, 2 January 2020.