During her research at the University of Warwick, Deborah Butler found a detrimental decline in the number of people entering the horseracing industry. The UK’s second largest leisure industry currently suffers from a lack of qualified staff.
To combat this she launched a new foundation degree at Warwickshire College to help alleviate the problem.
Within the industry, there is a high drop out rate with jockeys, as only 20 per cent ever make it professionally. The new programme hopes to attract the other 80 per cent and others already working in the industry, offering them a further career within horseracing.
The FdA Horseracing Industry (Business, Management and Practice) is designed to fill this gap in the system, to help people seek a further career in the industry from an inside position. This especially applies to those having just completed an apprenticeship.
Butler sees the course as being able to “channel” the skills the students may already have. She explained that many working with horseracing already have practical experience in management but do not have the qualifications they may need.
As it is designed for those already working in the industry, it is a distance learning course, allowing them to continue working while studying.
The new degree has only been running one month, with currently four students enrolled. Over the coming years there are hopes of expansion, but for now Butler is content. She hopes bursaries will come as student numbers increase.
Richard Brooks, one of the first students, has worked in business manufacturing for thirteen years but has always harnessed a passion for the sport. The foundation programme has allowed him to combine his hobby with his job. His aspiration is to become a trainer, but the degree will “enable me to achieve my long time dream. Previously it would have taken me seven to eight years, but the foundation degree cuts that in half… For people who want to get involved in horseracing at a senior level, I think the content of the course is a great foundation.”
It may have small beginnings, but it has the potential to facilitate real change within the industry. It makes it easier to continue into higher positions in the industry at a much faster rate.