ESSA-Sport - “A European Sector Skills Alliance for Sport and Physical Activity"

A transnational initiative funded by the European Commission to deliver the first European wide employment and skills map for the sport and physical activity sector

“Many of Europe’s 70m low-skilled adults could be the direct beneficiaries of the ESSA-Sport project. With a clear accent in the project to address European priorities as outlined in the New Skills Agenda for Europe, the E&T 2020 and the adoption of the EU tools around the EQF as well as the EU Work Plan for Sport, this project aims at implementing research findings on labour market needs in the sector and in identifying future skills needs. Filling the gap between labour supply and demand is a driving force which could attract learners who have been marginalised by systems of education to meaningful and relevant lifelong learning and employability. It is clear to my mind that this project is a good example of how we can bring the world of education and training closer to the world of employment.”

Dr Joachim James Calleja

Director of Cedefop

What is ESSA-Sport?

ESSA-Sport is 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 apotential to make a significant economic, health and social impact across the EU.


It will deliver the first EU wide Employment and Skills map of the sport and physical activity sector across the 28 Member States– 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. ESSA-SportESSA-Sport will include 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.

Therefore, the project aims to involve, consult representatives of all the key stakeholders in the sector at all levels, which itself is complex and fragmented in structure.


Why makes the ESSA-Sport different?

Previously the sector has lacked the organisation and leadership to effect change and to take concerted action on skills, ESSA-Sport aims to address this gap.


There has been no detailed analysis of employment or skills in sport since EOSE published the VOCASPORT report in 2004 – the first attempt to identify employment in sport and to compare the Vocational Education and Training (VET) and sport systems in Europe.


The research at the heart of ESSA-Sport is new, innovative and greatly neededas it will help tackle the fragmentation in the sector between countries, between sports and between sub-sectors but also fill a knowledge gap by undertaking research using common tools and methodologies.


The project will aim 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.


Why is ESSA-Sport needed?

To engage, motivate and support a full range of the community in the products and services associated with an active lifestyle depends on the skills of the people employed and working as volunteers in the Sector, and new skills are needed to fulfil the changing roles and reach new markets.


The need for the project was demonstrated in a recent 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 a 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. Since the Study, round tables with sector stakeholders have been organised in 6 countries and discussions with key stakeholders in another 12 countries have laid the foundations for the ESSA-Sport proposal. These showed considerable enthusiasm to tackle national issues and find EU solutions.



Say that the skills of paid staff are important or essential for sport organisations


Say that the skills of unpaid staff/volunteers are important or essential.


Of support received from respondents for establishing an ESSC


See benefits of a ESSC for the Sector

How will it be achieved?

Desk research and wide consultation activities will take place with the active support of EU network organisations and national sector representatives to finalise a EuropeanStrategic 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.


There are 3 main components to the project which are necessary, innovative and a “first” for the sector:

1. Statistical analysis

The only labour market information to be collected consistently is through the national Government statistical offices and collaboration with these at national level will provide the first source of the project data. National partners will be acting as researchers and co-ordinators and will work with stakeholders in Member States to carry out expected desk research activities and deep consultation

2. Direct consultation with employers

The raw national statistics collated at the national level will be 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 native languages.

3. Development of National stakeholders groups

These groups aslso named Sector Skills Partnerships represent a dynamic innovation to provide a mechanism for consultation, decision making and collaboration at national level that will address the fragmentation in the sector. It will 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 thereby is to create an on-going EU Sector Skills Alliance as a sustainable mechanism to meet key challenges facing the sector.


Feasibility Study Final Report

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Skills Infographics

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ESSA Press-Release

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