Regional Staff Development Programme aims to provide training to over one third of racing’s stable staff

  • Racing Foundation funds first 18 months of a three-year programme which offers free or subsidised on-location training to racing staff
  • Cross-industry scheme aims to take further training and development opportunities out to 2,400 members of Racing’s workforce
  • Scheme is viewed as an essential part of the ongoing strategy to enhance training and development for racing staff in order to improve retention rates

The Racing industry has come together this summer to launch an important, ambitious and far-reaching scheme which will help racing staff develop the horsemanship and life skills they need to enhance their career progression and encourage staff retention in the industry.

The nationwide Regional Staff Development Programme (RSDP) will take training and development out to racing’s workforce, with the objective that 2,400 racing staff – well over one third of the sport’s stable staff workforce – will participate in development/training activities associated with the scheme in the next three years, in locations that are convenient to them.

The scheme forms one part of the industry’s staff training and development policy, which offers a total of 35 recognised learning platforms offering a total of 35,000 people training days per year.

Following a successful pilot which took a range of training initiatives directly into yards and training centres, the Racing Foundation has provided a grant of nearly £160,000 for the first 18 months of a 36 month project to extend the regional training to Lambourn, Malton, Middleham and Newmarket as well as the outlying areas nationwide.

The Racing Foundation hopes that by providing further funding, momentum will not be lost and a sustainable industry funding model will be established to deliver the second half of the project and beyond should it prove successful.

The programme offers free or subsidised training across a range of subject areas including improving riding and horsemanship skills through coaching activities with the use of mobile training vehicles. Equine first aid, horse management, fitness, nutrition, finance and lifestyle subjects will be offered with opportunities for staff to gain industry and national qualifications.

Training will come in various forms, including demonstrations by world class coaches and practical skills development by vets and physiotherapists. Staff may wish to improve their horse care skills, undertake basic numeracy and literacy skills development or learn more about the industry they work in.

Building on the success of the Jockey Coaching Programme, senior staff may also apply to train as Rider Coaches, giving them the coaching skills to support younger and inexperienced colleagues in their yards.

The following ambitious three-year targets have been set for the scheme:

  • 2,400  racing staff will attend development/training activities
  • 1,029 racing staff will improve industry skills and knowledge by gaining certificates of achievement
  • 119 rider coaches will be trained and mentored, enabling the cascading of skills to other staff
  • 45 trainers/employers will acknowledge the importance of staff development by enabling staff to attend local RSDP activities
  • 5 key partnerships in racing will benefit from sharing resources to make best use of industry funding and develop sustainable solutions for future work

The Programme is a collaborative arrangement with input from Racing Welfare, National Trainers’ Federation (NTF), Thoroughbred Breeders Association (TBA) and National Association of Racing Staff (NARS) as well as the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) and industry training providers.

Four Regional Coordinators have been appointed who will oversee activity in the racing centres and outlying areas. The Northern Racing College (NRC) is responsible for the overall management of the programme with the British Racing School (BRS) leading activities in the south and the National Stud offering training to stud staff.

Gill Greeves, Vocational Training Manager for the BHA, said:

“This scheme is extremely important and exciting as the industry looks to prioritise the training and development of racing staff in order to ensure that we retain more of the talented and dedicated individuals who join our sport.

“By taking training to the staff this Programme will break down barriers to professional development by removing travel costs and lengthy periods away from the workplace.”

George McGrath, Chief Executive of NARS, said:

“The Regional Staff Development Scheme will provide an opportunity for racing staff of all ages and experience to progress their career in racing. For decades racing staff have felt there are no career opportunities for them outside of becoming a professional jockey, headperson or travelling headperson. The funding provided by the Racing Foundation demonstrates the high regard the racing industry holds for its staff.

“This initiative provides basic training for racing staff who just want to enhance their current skills right up to providing skills and qualifications for staff that want to further progress their racing career”.

Rob Hezel, Chief Executive of the Racing Foundation, said:

“The Foundation recognises the importance of increasing the retention rate of staff and hopes the funding provided allows for both the delivery of a successful project and stimulates the creation of a robust and sustainable people strategy for the sport”.

Stephen Padgett, Chief Executive of the Northern Racing College (NRC), said:

“The pilot for this Programme, run very successfully in Middleham by Sam Trainor, proved the concept and allowed us to put together a strong bid for financial support to The Racing Foundation. Rolling out the RSDP nationally now is very exciting. Through it, we will provide great opportunities for significant numbers across the racing workforce to enhance their skills, knowledge and experience. We know such opportunities have a very positive effect on staff retention which is so important to us all.”

Trainer Daniel Kubler said:

“We found the Regional Staff Development Programme really helpful in terms of working on our riders’ positions and helping them improve their riding. We have put quite a lot of effort into our staff development over the past year and one of the things we looked at is this particular programme. We have had the mobile training facility here a few times to work with our riders which they have enjoyed.”