Progress in many areas related to the employment, welfare and career development of stable and stud staff, but frustration in others, were highlighted in the second year report from the Stable and Stud Staff Steering Group published today (to download the report, click here).
The Group’s Chair Baroness Mallalieu, accompanied by BHB Acting Chief Executive Chris Brand, BHB Head of Industry Recruitment and Training Sara Hay-Jahans and Steering Group member Brough Scott, revealed at a press conference in central London that some 82% of the recommendations from the Donoughue Commission’s report of June 2004 were now implemented or in progress.
However, many of the more serious issues facing the sport’s key workforce remain within the 18% of the recommendations not as yet implemented, and concern was expressed at the pace of change with regard to hours, pay and overtime, job descriptions and the modernisation of the Stable Lads Association (SLA). Pension provision and the availability of affordable accommodation also remain fundamental, and unresolved, problems.
Areas in which significant developments have taken place include:
• Guidelines for the distribution of pool money, drawn up by the National Trainers Federation and SLA, have now been issued and are included in all new employee packs. 56% of respondents to the repeat survey of stable staff conducted this summer indicated that pool money was distributed in a clear and fair manner, indicating an improvement in this area.
• A new recruitment brand and website – careersinracing – has been launched, with a free racing industry jobs board in place since July. Early indications for the jobs board are good, with over 100 employers registered, and over 100 jobs posted to date, while careersinracing.com attracts an average of 6016 unique visitors per month.
• Much work has been carried out at a local level within Newmarket to address concerns with substance misuse. The newly-formed Newmarket Racing Partnership is made up of agencies from within and outside the sport, recognising that the issue is predominantly a societal one.
• Racecourse facilities have continued to improve, with the focus in 2006 on Jump courses and repeat visits to Flat courses. The repeat stable staff survey illustrated that 54% of respondents felt racecourse facilities had improved in the last 24 months. The Racecourse Association, SLA, many racecourses and the Horseracing Regulatory Authority have worked together in this area.
• The Thoroughbred Breeders Association has compiled a stud employers register, with 175 registered to date. The second phase of the project aims to gather information on staff of those registered employers.
Areas in which progress has been far slower than desirable include:
• Working conditions in relation to hours, pay and overtime continue to lag behind other 7 days-a-week industries, which ultimately jeopardises many of the improvements in recruitment and training. Despite the National Joint Council Wage Agreement recommendations on payment of overtime it is clear from the survey responses that staff are not receiving appropriate levels of payment.
• The SLA is not at present an effective trade union. Though recommended, no trade union affiliation has taken place even though 80% of staff indicated that this would be a positive step in the 2004 survey. The Steering Group accepts that Racing has no right to interfere with the internal workings of the SLA, but believes that there is a duty on the industry to ensure that staff receive the best use of funds diverted to the SLA under the Order governing Prize Money which would otherwise be distributed to them directly via pool money.
• Improving the pension provision has been complex with several areas to be resolved in creating a worthwhile pension scheme for staff. A pensions sub-group consisting of the BHB, the SLA and the NTF has been set up to provide a report to the BHB Board on the options available for addressing the issues.
• The recommended flexible contractual working week of 40 hours, which is common practice in many other industries running 7-day operations, is still not in operation across Racing.
• Whilst work has taken place to address the needs for more affordable housing within the Industry, a suitable solution for investment models has yet to be finalised. A seminar on the issue, attended by industry representatives and individuals with a background in finance and property development, will take place in early 2007.
In addition, a Training and Development Strategy presented to the BHB Board in November has identified 4 priority areas for 2007:
• Entry level training provision for different groups, including a review of the current model for delivering foundational apprenticeships and the expansion of the Northern Racing College’s successful conversion course
• An industry training needs analysis in order to identify the key skill gaps
• A pilot project to support the development of career progression through a skills matrix and to support further skills training for staff
• Development of a career path for those in supervisory positions and employers
Stable and Stud Staff Steering Group Chair Baroness Mallalieu said: “With the changeover to the new authority it is crucial that the work of the Steering Group continues under an independent chairman as it is clear from the second year report that a great deal still remains to be done ”
The Stable and Stud Staff Steering Group was set up by the BHB Board following the publication of the Report of the Independent Stable and Stud Staff Commission, Chaired by Lord Donoughue.
Among its Terms of Reference are to evaluate and prioritise the recommendations in the Report, in consultation with the relevant industry bodies, and to report to the BHB Board on a quarterly basis and to the wider industry annually.
The Steering Group’s membership is comprised as follows:
Baroness Mallalieu (Chair and an Independent BHB Director)
Toby Balding (National Trainers Federation)
Fiona Birt-Llewellin (former BHB Recruitment and Training Director, and Board Member, National Stud)
Lady Burnham (former BHB Director and former Chairman of the Stable Staff Resources Study Group)
Brigadier Cedric Burton (Chief Executive, Racing Welfare)
Alan Byrne (Member, Stable and Stud Staff Commission; former Racing Post Editor)
Richard Lancaster (Stud Director, Shadwell Stud)
Brough Scott (Racing Post Editorial Director)
Caroline Turnbull (TBA Training and Recruitment Manager)