ESSA-Sport Project

ESSA-Sport “European Sector Skills Alliance for sport and physical activity” was implemented to analyse the labour market and improve the supply of skills to the sector.

ESSA-Sport sought to deliver the first Europe-wide Employment and Skills map for the whole sport and physical activity sector – a sector of huge economic and social significance where new businesses and jobs are being created and new skills are needed to match the expectation from the labour market.

The ESSA-Sport project was funded under the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union and had a duration of three years from November 2016 to October 2019.


ESSA-Sport was designed as the start of a journey to reform and modernise training and qualifications and re-skill the workforce in a sport and physical activity sector that has a potential to make a significant economic, health and social impact across the EU.

The need for the project was demonstrated in an EU Feasibility Study funded by DG Employment and conducted in 2014. The Study final report demonstrated strongly the need and support for the establishment of an EU Sector Skills Alliance to provide the basis for a coordinated approach to analysing the changing labour market and developing solutions to re-skill the workforce with modern, fit for purpose training and qualifications.

ESSA-Sport included desk research activities and wide consultation with national and European stakeholders to analyse the situation and challenges facing the sector and to finalise a European strategic action plan with detailed and concrete priorities and recommendations to create the conditions for change and ensure education, training and qualifications are geared towards the realities of the sector.

The project aimed to bring the sport and physical activity sector together for the first time at the EU and national level to focus on these issues at a time when expectations of the sector are rising with Governments aiming for improved levels of health through physical activity, for sport to be at the heart of social integration and to improve the employability of young people through the education and personal development it offers. Expectations that can only be realised through a skilled workforce of professionals and the huge army of volunteers that lies at the heart of the sector.


The aim of ESSA-Sport was to carry out desk research and wide consultation activities with the active support of EU network organisations and national sector representatives to finalise a European Strategic Action Plan on skills (priorities/recommendations) to help ensure education, training and qualifications are geared to the realities of the sector, and to inform employment and career advisers of the real employment opportunities and skills needed in the sector.

Work during the project included:

  1. Statistical analysis

Gathering of labour market information through national Government statistical offices and Eurostat. National partners acted as researchers and co-ordinators and worked with stakeholders in Member States to carry out expected desk research activities and deep consultation.

    1. Direct consultation with employers

    The raw national statistics collated at the national and EU level were supplemented by the first ever European Employers Survey on skill needs in the sport and physical activity sector (online questionnaire), targeted at employers and produced in 18 European languages.

    1. Development of National stakeholders groups

    These groups represented a dynamic innovation to provide a mechanism for consultation, decision making and collaboration at national level to address the fragmentation in the sector. It was designed to provide the opportunity for implementing a bottom-up approach ensuring national issues, challenges and cultures are understood and reflected in European solutions and recommendations.

    The objective through ESSA-Sport therefore was to create an on-going system of gathering labour market data and skills intelligence through a sustainable mechanism to meet key challenges facing the sector.

    Expected Outputs

    OUTPUT 1: ESSA-Sport European Report

    The ESSA-Sport European Report was developed by taking into consideration contributions from national coordinators, inputs from consultation and results from the research activities. It discusses sport and education in Europe and presents the main findings collated and analysed through the ESSA-Sport project at the European level.

    OUTPUT 2: 28 National Reports

    The 28 National Reports present the main findings collated and analysed through the ESSA-Sport project at the national level. Each nation in Europe has its own specificities, realities and challenges in terms of employment and skills in sport and the aims of the national reports are: to describe the national sport and education systems; to present new knowledge gathered for the sector in terms of employment and skills; and to propose concrete conclusions and recommendations/ priority actions for implementation at the national level.

    OUTPUT 3: European Factsheet

    The European Factsheet collects the main findings from the project at the European level and presents them in a short visually attractive way. This includes labour market statistics and results of the European Skills Survey.

    OUTPUT 4: 28 National Factsheets

    The 28 National Factsheets collect the main findings from the project at the national level and presents them in a short visually attractive way. This includes labour market statistics and results of the European Skills Survey specific to each country.


    EOSE was the applicant and coordinator, and was supported by a wide partnership of 18 national partners and 5 European networks to deliver the challenging ESSA-Sport project.

    The partnership was composed of various stakeholders from the sport and physical activity sector such as training providers and universities, research centres, sport councils, governments, representative of employers and employees, as well as several EU umbrella organisations. It was important to constitute such a wide partnership to reflect the breadth, realities, needs and diversity of the sector.

    ESSA-Sport Library

    European Report


    European Fact Sheet

    National Fact Sheet


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