News & Updates

Question Time with STA’s CEO

The last two years have flown by with Dave Candler at the helm of STA, so we’ve taken this chance to look back and hear from Dave about his plans for the future.


When you first became CEO in April 2016, what were your specific aims for STA?

Throughout my 25 years of working in the leisure industry, I’ve always recognised the importance of collaborative working and this was my aim for STA; to partner with like-minded, friendly organisations and engage more with employers.

Two years on, we are now partnered with some amazing organisations, which has served to not only enhance STA’s brand reputation and growth in the leisure market, it has also enabled us to reach a wider audience, share like-minded expertise and create products and services that the industry wants.

Name your top five biggest achievements.

I think first and foremost it has been how we’ve restructured STA as an organisation. We have a fantastic group of directors who with their teams have all worked diligently over the last couple of years to change the shape of STA, positively. Crucially, this has included re-balancing the organisation so all our roles and services are distinguished. STA’s work as a charitable organisation is now clearly defined; we’ve differentiated the role of Safety Training Awards as an awarding organisation, and to manage conflicts of interest we’ve also separated out the work of STA Excel. It has been a lot of hard work, but we have achieved our aim.

For our members and for the benefit of the aquatics industry in general, STA becoming a CIMSPA awarding organisation partner was significant. It put us on a level playing field, and signified to employers, particularly in the public sector, that our qualifications and training programmes meet the highest standards and are fit for purpose.

Thirdly, as per my comments above, we are very proud of the partnerships we have formed both here in the UK and internationally – CIMSPA, ukactive, Birthlight, YMCA, The Scouting Association, Octonauts, Speedo, GLL, and Halo to name a few!

Another key achievement is membership. Reaching over 10,000 members in June 2017 was a momentous moment in our history, and I’m proud this was achieved during my tenure as CEO – and 4 years ahead of my target for the organisation.

Finally, and by no means least, is the positive work STA is now doing as a charity to help fund less fortunate swimming and water safety groups. We are also now using our charity status to deliver hard-hitting educational messages, and as part of this we successfully united the aquatics industry last year on a challenging, controversial subject surrounding survival teaching methods. Together, for the first time in history, we all stood together to provide one powerful voice and I hope we can do more of this in the future.

What has been the most difficult challenge?

STA has gone from strength to strength over the last 2 years across all areas of the organisation, but the biggest challenge is helping members understand the role of an awarding organisation and the regulatory requirements we have to follow and adhere to.

We want members to understand that any changes or new policies implemented by Safety Training Awards, STA’s awarding organisation, are not made because we want to do it or because it’s a profit exercise, but it’s because we have a regulatory obligation. This can sometimes be difficult if members don’t always agree with the changes we have to make, but we always promise to help members as much as we can to work through any changes that are imposed.

For example, we recently organised a webinar about the new ATC procedures, which if you missed can be viewed here:

What are you looking forward to over the next two years?

Lots! Everyone that knows me knows how passionate I am about this industry, and it’s been an absolute privilege over the last two years to work with such an amazing, dedicated team of individuals and see STA develop in stature. I now look forward to nurturing all this hard work by further expanding our partnerships and evolving our teaching and coaching qualifications portfolio.

We’ve also recently launched our new Level 2 Teaching Swimming qualifications and I’m looking forward to seeing these being rolled-out over the coming months. I’m excited too about the many opportunities that are opening up internationally for STA—there really is a lot to look forward to!

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