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LifeSkills featured in the Football Focus Magazine

Spencer Fearn at LifeSkills spoke to Football Focus Magazine recently about their work with the Football League Trust, his Director role at Stockport County… and his delight at Sheffield Wednesday’s promotion.

LifeSkills does some fantastic work with the Football League Trust in developing apprenticeships across Football League clubs.

How did the link start and what are your hopes for developing the mutually beneficial arrangement into the future?

“The link started via my relationship with Sheffield Wednesday. I am a trustee of their charitable arm and was asked to help with some apprentices they had that were not achieving via another Provider they were working with. After ensuring these apprentices received the correct teaching, learning and support the news of the good work we did spread within the industry.

We now work with 30 football league clubs and Everton in the Premier League delivering the youth unemployment programme Foundation Learning and also Apprenticeships. These are great programmes that give many people the opportunity to pursue a career in sport. LifeSkills work with each club to ensure the delivery is of the highest quality. In the past year we have helped over 500 young people who were unemployed and are now engaged either in employment via the apprenticeship route or they are continuing their education via College and in some cases University.

As well as the sports related delivery, we also work with clubs delivering apprenticeships in other areas such as Sales and Marketing, Business Administration, Customer Service and many more.”

What are the key elements which make Learn a Living such an attractive prospect for clubs to be involved in?

“LifeSkills sub-contract the provision to the clubs, so they are paid to deliver the programmes. We develop all of our partners to the highest standard so that they are competent Learning Providers in their own right. We provide a variety of different support mechanisms such as Ofsted guid¬ance, financial audit and strategic development. It is key that each person receiving an education receives the best possible service, so we all work hard to ensure that this is achieved.”

What attracted you to Stockport County and what are the clubs biggest challenges into the next five years?

“The fans attracted me to County. After 18 months out of the game after my 4 year stint at East Stirling finished I looked at four clubs. I had a good feeling about County when I went to a game v Stevenage when they were in the football league, the fans were amazing. It is what I call a proper football club and the potential is enormous, we had 6,000 at Edgeley Park for our last home game of the season.

Over the past 3 years some very poor decisions have been made and County have been on a downward spiral. With Jim Gannon returning, who I am very impressed with and some good management off the field we are slowly re-building the club.

Our aim is to get back to the football league as soon as possible, however, like any business, you need to put a solid structure in place first and then build. One thing that will not happen when I am at County is that we will live beyond our means, this happens too often and clubs are placed in financial difficulty.

It really is a fantastic club and in my 5 months in Stockport I have enjoyed every minute, getting out of the Conference is a big challenge, but one that Jim Gannon, my colleagues on the board and I are certainly up for.”

As a Sheffield Wednesday fan, you must be delighted with their promotion?!

“I was absolutely delighted. The game against Wycombe was very special and to see 38,000 Wednesdayites in the stadium was an unbelievable experience. LifeSkills sponsored the match ball and my boy Lennon, who is 6 was one of the mascots. It was a great feeling being on the pitch before the game with my Dad Roger and my son.

Mr.Mandaric has done a remarkable job since he took over and deserves and enormous amount of credit, as does the Vice - Chairman Paul Al¬dridge. They both work tremendously hard and know the industry extremely well. It just shows that with great leadership how big Wednesday can be again. The fans are some of the best in the land and after 15 years of medi-ocrity hopefully we can now build on this and have a crack at getting in the Premier League.”

“In a very short time we've built a great rapport with LifeSkills. Every member of the team finds them approachable and friendly, yet professional. It's great knowing that staff can raise questions on a one-on-one basis or in the group sessions they've set up.”