The sport and outdoor activities sector offers many of us an extensive list of adventurous, physically demanding and therapeutic pursuits that we can undertake for our own health and wellbeing benefits, a new challenge, or simply for enjoyment.
Exposure to the sector happens from a young age, where we see joyful engagement in primary schools through forest schools and bushcraft activities, and vast volumes of secondary school learners experiencing group residentials in outdoor centres. While there are educational opportunities available through colleges and providers, there can be gaps in access to these opportunities from one region to the next. It can be difficult for learners to find clear pathways into careers outdoors. Despite this, there is a strong belief in the value of engaging in outdoor activities, highlighting the need for a clearer bridge to careers in the sector.
Some of these would include;
Promoting physical health and fitness through opportunities for physical activity and movement.
Improving mental health and well-being by providing a chance to spend time in nature which has been shown to reduce stress and improve mood.
Developing transferable skills such as teamwork collaboration and social skills that can be useful in both personal and professional settings.
Providing diverse educational experiences for hands-on, experiential learning opportunities that can be valuable, especially in urban areas where access to outdoor education may be limited.
Increased environmental awareness and promoting sustainable living practices for education about conserving energy, water and natural resources and reducing waste.
Outdoor activities can help educate to protect and preserve natural resources for future generations.
After completing a Level 2 qualification, learners are positioned to specialise in the sector. Working with the Institute of Outdoor Learning (IOL), we have developed a BTEC qualification which not only provides a breadth of skills, knowledge and behaviours, but it is a great platform to gain valuable work experience whist acquiring UCAS points, allowing for progression to Higher Education. The qualifications are also mapped to industry occupational standards, empowering development into a career in the sector and offering as a precursor for the Level 5 Outdoor Learning Specialist apprenticeship standard.
Having recently spoken with Jo Barnett, CEO of the Institute for Outdoor Learning, professional bodies such as the IOL can help connect the checkpoints and create an ecosystem to support careers and the industry. Educational providers and employers can collaborate to create provisions offering educational and career pathways that serve their communities.
Is there potential within your curriculum planning and employer engagement to build and foster this meaningful route in your qualification offerings?
If this piece has stirred intrigue or curiosity, I recommend listening to the latest episode of the BTEC Sporting Goals series, which discusses the role of IOL, their vision and how to get involved. This episode also addresses the need for the sector to do more around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and how colleges and providers can play a significant role in this effort. Jo shares several insightful takeaways and ideas for further consideration, her point on an individual finding their own ‘wild place’ really resonated with me.
Product Manager, Sport and Physical Activity