“Wet Leisure for Dummies.” There’s no such book.

If you look across the entire sweep of the wet leisure industry, it encompasses a whole raft of skills, technical know-how and areas of specialist knowledge. It’s time that we recognised that and invested in it.

We live in a world where higher education is increasingly valued. And not just in terms of tuition fees. Last year over half a million people embarked on a degree level course in the UK and it sometimes seems as if you can have a degree in just about anything.

In the business world, training courses that support agreed career development paths are a common part of the relationship between employer and employee. Investing in people is a familiar and valued part of the business landscape.

But we work in an industry where with the exception of the ISPE specific qualifications and training are relatively few and far between.

We also work in an industry that is becoming more and more technically advanced. 10 or 20 years ago, a few plumbing skills and the same sort of knowledge as might be shared with the average builder would have been enough to see you through most projects.

As we all know, that is far from the truth these days.

“Adams. Are you listening, boy?”

I can still recall sitting in my first assembly at comprehensive school and hearing another lad getting ticked off for not paying attention and watching people playing cricket outside while the headmaster was explaining the world of opportunity that lay at our feet through a good education.

As they say, hindsight is an exact science and I guess most of us will admit to wishing they had tried harder during their formative years and although that’s in the past, we still have the opportunity to learn.

And we have the opportunity to help others to learn.

The appetite for knowledge and training in our industry is growing and I think the attitude to retaining your staff by investing in them is changing. Finding and keeping good people is reported as one of the key challenges for successful businesses in our industry and employers are now realising that training their staff is a good way to keep them, not lose them.

Full marks.

As a company we, Golden Coast, spend a lot of time putting together training visits to suppliers, writing articles, filming and editing YouTube footage for ‘Andy’s Answers’ and tailoring training sessions to meet customers specific needs.

We wouldn’t do that if there wasn’t a demand for it.

It isn’t only technical and product support that we provide. In the not too distant future, the new GC web site will contain a library of articles on marketing and business advice specific to the wet leisure industry that the trade can use to their benefit. Of course, we are not alone in thinking this way.

The ISPE (Institute of Swimming Pool Engineers) is working at getting a range of CPD courses set up within the industry.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the term used to describe the learning activities professionals engage in to develop and enhance their skills and abilities. CPD combines different ways of learning such as training workshops, conferences, events and e-learning programs. There are over 1000 institutes & professional bodies across the UK who are already running these certified programs.

SPATEX has long been a source of new knowledge and training with the range of presentations and seminars that the show has offered and I am aware that next year they will be increasing the offering for people looking to learn.

It looks as if the whole industry is starting to wise up about training.

When do we get the results?

As Ivern Ball said ‘Knowledge is power but enthusiasm pulls the switch.’

Our industry is quickly coming to see the benefits of greater knowledge, better skills and improved training. As that attitude spreads, people will see the benefits that it brings and move to follow suit.

I think that industry standard qualifications and better training will make the wet leisure industry a more attractive career prospect. We’ll get better people wanting to join our businesses.

When you offer training and career development you reward and motivate your staff. Those skills are more likely to stay in your business; those skilled people are more likely to want to stay working for you.

Pool equipment, spas and saunas are becoming more complicated, more technically advanced. Your business needs to train staff better simply to stay in business.

Add improved marketing and customer service skills into the mix and you begin to see a powerful industry that is taking control of it’s own destiny even in these uncertain times.

There is no single ‘magic bullet’ that can transform any business into a highly successful one but a well skilled, well trained workforce is clearly going to be a massive competitive advantage.

No one is going to have to go back to school to work that one out.