NATIONAL APPRENTICESHIP WEEK: Aspiring tennis coach says apprenticeships are for people of all ages

Posted on: 9th Feb 2022

A retail worker committed to changing careers is challenging stereotypes that vocational qualifications are only for school leavers by completing an apprenticeship in her 30s.

Olga is studying a Level 4 Sports Coach apprenticeship with registered training provider Ignite Training after being hired by Wimbledon-based tennis coaching organisation Emma Wells Tennis.

The 36-year-old mother-of-one combines on-the-job development with weekly Zoom-based lessons and one-to-one tuition to establish the key skills, knowledge and behaviours coaching requires.

To mark National Apprenticeship Week, Olga is now encouraging more people aged 30 and older to consider studying an apprenticeship to facilitate a dream career change.

“I’ve always wanted to be a sports coach,” said Olga. “I played tennis growing up, so coaching was my dream.

“But I had no way of gaining hands-on practical experience to develop job specific skills and make key contacts in the industry. A friend suggested I should consider an apprenticeship, so I did some research and haven’t looked back.

“Already, I feel so confident coaching children, teenagers and adults and the lessons with Ignite Training are really progressing my knowledge and understanding of the job.”

The latest Government statistics show 47% of apprenticeships started in 2019-20 were by people aged 25 and older.

Furthermore, a comprehensive survey by Total Jobs revealed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic prompted 25% of British workers to consider a career change.

Apprentices in the UK are entitled to receive a minimum of £4.30 per hour for their work and training. Because of this, Olga will continue to work in retail until her apprenticeship ends and she is qualified to be a full-time coach.

She added: “I took the decision to change my life so I could achieve my dream of becoming a professional coach.

“I have had to keep my other job so I can still afford to pay my bills. Is that the right decision? Absolutely. It’s hard work and I put a lot of effort into both jobs, but I know if I want to get to where I want to be then this is necessary.

“Any apprenticeship is an amazing opportunity. I’d advise anyone my age or older with key responsibilities in life to keep going and not be scared.

“Sit down and consider how you can make an apprenticeship work for you financially, and then go for it. It might be an apprenticeship won’t work for you right now because of your financial situation, childcare or lack of time.

“But it is possible and making the right decision to better your future is one of the best things you’ll do.”

Emma Wells, tutor and national coach education director who founded the 500-strong junior programme in Wimbledon Park, added: “Olga is a very fast learner and knows a career in tennis is for her. I admire her focus and determination to improve each week.

“I wanted to find the right person when hiring an apprentice. There is a stigma that apprenticeships are only for teenagers or people in their early 20s – this is definitely not the case.

“I was looking for someone who had a growth mindset and would grow and develop their skills to become a fantastic coach.

“Developing Olga in-house through on-court experience, LTA qualifications and through Ignite Training’s external learning platform means Olga will be a fully qualified coach who is competent, trained and ready to deliver sessions once her apprenticeship ends.”

Further information about Emma Wells Tennis is available online via Emma Wells Tennis – Wimbledon Park.

Based at Oxford City Football Club, Ignite Training is a registered training provider specialising in the provision of apprenticeship and adult education programmes in sport, coaching, teaching and marketing.

Its clients include schools, councils, charities, professional clubs, gyms, the NHS and apprenticeship training agencies.

About Ignite Training

Established in 1999, Ignite’s primary aim is to actively inspire people, and to help create a sense of achievement for everyone. Based in Oxford and operating nationally, we provide a portfolio of training and services to individuals, schools and the sports industry, ranging from weekly clubs for tots to adult courses and apprenticeships.

About Ignite Training