Loughborough invites Switch the Play to support student volunteers

The sport-specialising social enterprise has developed a training programme aimed at optimising students' volunteering experience

A new training programme for volunteers at Loughborough University’s coaching and volunteering academy (CVA) has been developed by Switch the Play (StP). Designed in consultation with the university, it aims to help students maximise their volunteering experience.

StP is a social enterprise specialising in working with athletes and sports organisations. It looks to help individuals reach their full potential during and after sporting careers, enabling them to successfully transition away from sport into other vocations.

The CVA’s Sam Rouse said: “As a university we are in a unique and privileged position to be able to offer our students the opportunity to gain valuable experience through volunteering, coaching and officiating within a world class sporting ecosystem. Using these experiences, our students develop new skills and create new networks. We want our students to leave university as standout candidates and in the best position to apply for jobs; we have found that a lack of confidence and ability to articulate their experiences holds them back when applying for external positions in the job market.”

The CVA was originally set up six years ago as a legacy programme of the London 2012 medal makers volunteer programme. Its value can be seen in a 2017/18 impact report, showing that 684 Loughborough students clocked up 42,810 hours of volunteering; took advantage of 189 different positions on offer, completed 95 masterclasses; and achieved 18 varying qualifications. The report also reflected the benefits of volunteering on future employability, with 93% of volunteers securing jobs after graduation.

CVA learning strands include coaching, officiating, event management, media, marketing and communications, and performance support.

StP CEO and former international rugby player, Leon Lloyd, is one of the training deliverers. He said: “The graduate job market gets flooded with candidates, so anything that can help an individual stand out from the crowd is an advantage. As a professional athlete I spent a lot of time volunteering at my rugby club because I knew, at some point, my career would end. The students’ experience is slightly different in that, when they finish university, their careers will just be beginning, but the principles – being more self-aware, understanding what employers look for – are the same.

“The students are also great athletes and, together with their volunteering, they are gaining a wealth of skills, some of which we which they probably aren’t even aware of. Our training programme will help students identify these and use them to their advantage.”

On completion of all the training modules, students will create a personal action plan comprising short and long terms goals, and practical tasks to help future employability.

For more information about Switch the Play visit www.switchtheplay.com.