I was in 2 minds as to whether I should write a blog on this subject or not. Partly because a lot has already been said on the subject and I was unsure what else I could add to the debate. That said, there are some aspects that maybe haven’t been addressed.
Firstly I want to leave to one side the unpaid internships directly and talk a little more about what they mean. I’ve tried to take a step back to look at the situation from a little more of a market standpoint. The main point is this: a service or commodity is only worth what people are willing to pay for it. Currently, outside of certain sports, the value that is placed on strength and conditioning as a field is low. That is generally speaking based not solely on elite sport but on general population and clinical fields. Hence there are a limited number of paid jobs outside of those sports.
Now, no matter how much you would like a job in a field, because it is something you are passionate about, that is not what governs demand. It sucks, but that is something that should be factored into your decisions when deciding on what to study. How many people outside of competitive sport or the field even know what S&C is and what a S&C coach does? Why should Joe Public choose a S&C coach over a personal trainer, what’s the difference to them? Until that is clearly understood, nothing will change.
Even if more sports begin to place value on it and create roles for coaches, there are only a finite number of teams and money and therefore a limited number of jobs. The market has to increase in the tiers below pro/elite sport to provide more positions. School, junior, amateur, general public and clinical based S&C are the areas that that growth can occur. But it’s not going to happen on it’s own. Simply complaining about a lack of jobs isn’t going to change anything, S&C has to prove it’s worth, justify it’s existence.
How to do this? It’s tough, marketing is a lot of work and can be expensive. Word of mouth works, but it takes a long time. Should this be something the UKSCA addresses? I think so. But we can all help, by spreading the word and doing good work that gets results and tracking those results. If we can do that as a field, we are in a position to justify payment and qualitatively show people the value of our work.