The NRL today joined careers advisors from across the country to outline the game’s career development pathways that are providing unrivalled opportunities for Rugby League players to pursue careers ranging from medicine and law to trades including carpentry and plumbing.
NRL Chief Operating Officer, Mr Jim Doyle, showcased the changing face of Rugby League’s education and workplace training culture at Sydney’s Sheraton on the Park Hotel, unveiling two new programs that have the game at the forefront of professional sport in career development.
The NRL CareerWise and Trading Up With the NRL programs cater for players from the elite junior levels through to the NRL and into retirement from the game, providing them with the opportunity and skills they need to build successful careers outside of Rugby League.
ARL Commissioner Dr Chris Sarra, NRL players Jason Clark (Rabbitohs), Joe Galuvao (Sea Eagles) and Bronson Harrison (Dragons), NRL Education and Welfare Managers Paul Heptonstall, Andrew Ryan, Nigel Vagana and Dean Widders and former NRL stars Luke Burt, Brad Morrin, Corey Hughes and Chris Armit were among the guests joining members of the Career Development Association of Australia at today’s launch.
“Sport has an amazing ability to effect change and through Rugby League we have created the most comprehensive career development programs for players in Australian sport, stretching from the elite junior levels all the way through to the NRL and beyond to retirement,” Mr Doyle said.
“From junior representative teams through to the NRL’s Under 20s Holden Cup program, we have in place a strict No Work. No Study. No Play policy.
“Most importantly, we have created an education culture that has the support of clubs and players across all levels of the game.
“We are finding that the players best equipped to succeed in the NRL are the ones who are building careers outside of Rugby League and have what we describe as life balance.”
NRL CareerWise is a career development program that aims to have players vocationally active and balanced in life.
More than 50 Welfare and Education Managers, Club Career Coaches and current and former NRL players have been trained in the delivery of the NRL CareerWise program and have completed or are completing the Certificate IV in Career Development.
The program recognises that Rugby League is a profession, but it is also the shortest career most players will experience in their lifetime.
Through the program, Rugby League assists players to make well-informed future career choices as well as help them develop the skills and knowledge required to successfully manage their ongoing careers in a rapidly changing labour market.
The program takes into account the mix of factors that influence career decision-making and is in line with the Australian Blueprint for Career Development.
The Trading Up With the NRL Program focuses on increasing the retention and completion rates of apprentices who are also involved in Rugby League and currently employs 24 past and current players as mentors.
It is supported by the Australian Government and funded through the Department of Industry, Innovation, Climate Change, Science, Research and Tertiary Education.
Through the program, mentors work with NRL Clubs to assist apprentices within the Rugby League community to successfully complete their apprenticeships.
“Rugby League is what players do, but it is only part of who they are,” Mr Doyle said.
“In 2008, the NRL and Holden Cup competitions had 75 players enrolled at university. Now we have 194 and it is growing each year.
“We also have 180 players undertaking an apprenticeship or traineeship and by 2017 we aim to have 84 per cent of NRL players engaged in further education or career training.”
CDAA incoming President, Mr Andrew Rimington, said his organisation welcomes the initiative by the NRL to launch the CareerWise program.
“This is an important initiative for two key reasons,” Mr Rimington said.
“Firstly, it recognises the role of the NRL and member clubs as employers of elite athletes and their career development.
“This recognises the acceptance of their role in preparing their employees for a life after a career in Rugby League.
“It commits the League to supporting their players throughout the life stages of their career journey and provides them with the skills to transition into new opportunities.
“The second aspect of this initiative is the development of individual capacity to recognise the skills and knowledge required by the players to make the transition from that of an elite athlete into the world of work opportunity.
“The CDAA recognises the significance of this NRL initiative as a sign post for other sporting bodies and provides a great example in leadership for employers more broadly.
“CDAA welcomes the partnership with the National Rugby League, and also applauds the commitment to formally provide career development qualifications to club support staff and players in the delivery of this initiative.”
Mr Doyle also made special mention of Ms Jane Lowder of Max Coaching, who is the NRL’s Specialist Career Coach and the author of the Career Wise program, which she created with input from careers and education specialists including Marijke Wright, Rosemary Sainty and Jane Caro.Ms Lowder has been nominated for the Career Practitioner of the Year Award being announced tomorrow at the Career Development Association of Australia (CDAA) Conference at the Sheraton on the Park Hotel.