A university graduate who was thwarted in her attempts to break into sports coaching is finally starting to make a splash as a swimming instructor.
Katie Jack is now on track for the career she has always dreamed of thanks to a local leisure organisation - but dipping a toe into the sports industry has proved harder than she first imagined.
By this time I was on job seekers allowance and working with the job centre to find work
The 22-year-old from Rossington is currently learning her trade, helping youngsters to swim but was very nearly sunk herself in her bid to become a coach. Katie, who graduated last summer from university with a degree in coaching and sports science, said: “I was excited to go on and coach children of various ages in various sports.
“With the qualifications and the experience I had gained working with children and sports throughout my three years in unversity, I was excited about the prospects of working with and coaching children.”
The sports-mad student had won qualifications in coaching football, rounders, handball and tchchoukball - an indoor team sport similar to handball - and had the opportunity to go into schools and follow the national teaching curriculum for PE as well as coaching after school sports and sports fairs.
However, by September, she was still struggling to find a job in the field of sports and added: “Irrespective of my degree or the field I had hoped to work within, I couldn’t find anything.
“By this time I was on job seekers allowance and working with the job centre to find work.
“I was applying for jobs that I had no interest in because there were little opportunities in coaching, and still hearing nothing back, or failing to pass the first stages.”
And Katie admits her fruitless search to find work started to hurt.
She said: “After spending three months jobless, applying for multiple jobs and getting nothing back, I was starting to feel down and very low.
“The prospects of coaching children were starting to seem less and less likely. Aside from this, I had very little money coming in. while my friends were able to go out and do things, I was stuck at home.
“It seemed as though I was just walking around aimless with nowhere to go and nothing to do.”
However things finally turned the corner for Katie when a careers advisor suggested she attend a local employment event.
“To help me in my search for a job, the job centre sent me to a jobs fair,” she said.
“I wasn’t confident that there would be anything there for me, anything I had an interest in or anything that I hadn’t already applied for before, but I went along anyway.
“Fortunately there was a booth there for Doncaster Culture and Leisure Trust that caught my attention.”
And it was that chance meeting that led her to take on the Fit For Work scheme which has helped her take her first steps in sports coaching.
She said: “After talking to the representative about my interests and what I wanted, he explained the process of working with the training department at DCLT and becoming a casual lifeguard and the opportunities that could lead on from that.
“I was starting to feel excited again. Firstly I would have money coming in, and I would be able to go out and do things, but there could also be opportunities in the future to become a swim teacher. A week later, I was training to be a lifeguard.
Katie has now worked for DCLT since October 2014 as a casual lifeguard.
She added: “As part of their training course I had to complete two weeks of work experience in two different DCLT sites, which allowed me to really be able to put my foot in the door.
“Since then, I have worked in four different DCLT sites. In the six months since I trained to become a lifeguard with DCLT, I have worked not only as a lifeguard but I have now trained as a receptionist and most importantly for me I have achieved my level two swim teacher’s qualification, and I now teach my own swimming lessons with plenty of opportunities to go on and teach more lessons. I work more than 35 hours a week.”
“Thanks to DCLT and the training department, Dearne Valley College and Job Centre Plus I now work within the field I am interested in and I am able to teach children which is in relation to my degree. Training to become a lifeguard with DCLT and the rraining department has increased my confidence and overall mood. I have been given some great opportunities so far and I look forward to more in the future.”
And to mark Katie’s success, DCLT has now won praise for the way it is helping young people find work in the sports sector.
The organisation’s Sector Based Work Academy has been named the top performing provider by Dearne Valley College for achieving a 69 percent job outcome rate in the second year of its Skills Support for the Unemployed contract. Funded by the Skills Funding Agency using European Social Funding, the contract is now in its third and final year and is hoping to achieve similar results.
The Academy is delivered in partnership with Dearne Valley College and Job Centre Plus and takes an innovative and proactive approach to working with a selection of unemployed people from the area to help them become qualified leisure and corporate hospitality staff. The five-week programme sees successful applicants aged 19 and above taken through accredited first aid training, National Pool Lifeguard course, pre-employment classes, food safety training and practical work experience, before them being put forward for a job interview after the final week.
Jon Whiteley, DCLT Head of Community Development said: “We are delighted by our results on this programme. This is more than statistics it is people in jobs.
“The results show this is a great programme to help people gain the skills and confidence to get into work. It is a fantastic example of partnership working and we are proud to be a part of it.”
DCLT have delivered 19 programmes and out of the 181 learners recruited, 180 have completed the course and achieved an accredited award and 106 have gone on to secure employment.
Leanne Adams, of Dearne Valley College added “DCLT are one of our most valued partners. The opportunities that they are offering the people of South Yorkshire are fantastic with many progressing to management positions within the Trust. The team at DCLT are flexible and hardworking and have the learners’ best interests at heart. We are hoping that we can maintain a longer-term relationship with DCLT”.
Anyone interested in the programme should contact firstname.lastname@example.org.