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An Open Letter from Rob May, Director of YMCA Awards

After very careful consideration, I have decided to leave YMCA Awards, but I leave it in safe hands with a very talented team at the helm.

I will be taking on a new challenge, having been appointed CEO of the ABE Awarding Organisation, an international NPO which works primarily in developing countries, providing access to university and prosperity through education programmes which encourage entrepreneurship.

There is never a perfect time for this type of transition but I firmly believe that YMCA Awards is in a strong place, we have a very strong offer and what’s more, an exciting pipeline of new and innovative digital products and qualifications.

I’m also delighted to be passing the reins to my friend and colleague Lady Andree Deane-Barron.

Andrée is a sector expert with three published books and an extensive career history in education. Over the course of a highly successful career as an entrepreneurial business leader she has spanned the private, public and charity sectors. As a previous school teacher and FE lecturer holding both a Batchelor and Master’s degree in Education, Andree was author of the first sports coaching and exercise teaching NVQs. She also served as the CEO of the Fitness Industry Association (now UK Active) for 10 years.

Following some restructuring at the end of last year, which also saw the arrival of Simon Titley from Pearson to head-up customer service, and Dr. Fiona Summers from Ascentis to head-up quality and compliance, we now have a very experienced, highly professional team in place to support customers and continue our development of market-leading learning solutions.

A strong voice to protect the interests of the sector

YMCA Awards, working with our strategic industry partners like CIMSPA, UK Active and FAB, will continue to lobby on behalf of our centres and learners.

Our priorities remain:

  • Ensuring high-quality, reliable assessments which are devised and planned by technical experts
  • Ensuring that the government’s plans to reform our system of qualifications and apprenticeships take account of the needs of our centres and learners, and that timescales for change are realistic.
  • Ensuring that the technical expertise of fitness industry professionals is recognised and that the sector is not undermined by low-quality training providers.

The future of digital learning

We will also continue our emphasis on technology-enhanced learning. Digitisation is not something we can avoid, as the digital experience is no longer separate from our everyday life. Increasingly we are said to ‘live’ online, and increasingly we learn online as well. And whilst technology has the ability to democratise learning for millions of people, It can also rob it of its validity, by creating confusing side-markets for training and credentialing, and contaminating traditional high-quality pathways.

That’s why YMCA Awards is embracing learning technology, so that we can create high-quality content and products with our selected partners, which reflect the standards we have set for the industry over nearly 20 years.

I have enjoyed every minute of my time at YMCA Awards, and within the fascinating health and fitness sector, not to mention working with such talented, committed people and I will remain a friend and supporter of the fitness sector, and YMCA for life.

All the best,

Rob May