Building confidence and resilience a worthwhile addition to workplace skills

Martin Davidson and Jamie Hepburn at Loch Eil Centre
Martin Davidson and Jamie Hepburn at Loch Eil Centre
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After the publication of the final report from the Commission for Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce led by Sir Ian Wood in 2014, the Scottish Government put together a funding package and a range of measures to support Scotland’s youth in the transition from education to work.

This resulted in the publication and implementation of the Developing the Young Workforce – Scotland’s Youth Employment Strategy 2014. This strategy brings together local authorities, employers, schools and other partners to reach into communities across Scotland, supporting the development of young people in their transition into work. An important part of the strategy was the government’s commitment to growing the number of apprentice opportunities to 30,000 a year by 2020.

Jamie Hepburn, Scottish Minister for Employability and Training, is committed to driving forward Scotland’s Youth Employment strategy and on 13 June he visited The Outward Bound Trust’s Loch Eil Centre to see for himself how the trust works with young people to help them develop skills which enable them to become workplace-ready.

He told us: “It was fantastic to see The Outward Bound Trust’s work helping young people build their skills and confidence while enjoying the outdoors. This kind of practical training is benefitting Scotland’s workforce and enabling our economy to grow and flourish. That is why we are investing in 30,000 modern apprenticeship starts per year by 2020 and are increasing the number of graduate level and foundation apprenticeships.”

The trust has recently placed even more emphasis on the transition from education to the workplace and to tailoring our offerings to respond to the Developing the Young Workforce agenda. We work with employers to design, develop and deliver courses that address specific workplace needs, such as positive attitudes, communication skills and determination to stay motivated when faced with difficult situations.

In the Scottish Highlands our Loch Eil Centre has seen thousands of young people build their confidence and leadership skills, going on to achieve much more than they ever thought possible. We are known for challenging outdoor education in the wilderness, but our courses comprise much more than physical adventure.

During 2016 we worked with 65 employers and over 3,000 apprentices and graduates, with the aim of making a positive impact on self-management, resilience and determination. Huge improvements were shown in these areas as well as in the quality of young employees’ engagement with their employers. All our programmes are evaluated for the outcomes they aim to achieve, through feedback from participants, employers and line managers.

For Babcock International Group at HMNB Clyde, for example, we helped develop a ‘Growth Mindset’ in their apprentices to help them improve confidence, challenge the way things are done and enhance self-awareness. 100 per cent of apprentices believe they gained skills that would make a positive difference to their work performance.

Ben Elmer-White, Learning & Development Manager, Babcock explains: “We’ve seen a marked change in our apprentices that has well exceeded our expectations: they’re more confident, more engaged and more prepared to challenge the status quo when they see areas of potential improvement. The business has already felt the positive impact of the programme, and I’m sure it will continue to do so over the months and years to come”.

Our 2017 Social Impact Report evidences the positive results from courses designed for apprentices and graduates. The report measured a range of attributes before and after doing their Outward Bound® course and found improvements across the board.

Developing skills in working with others is regarded as the most worthwhile aspect of the course by the greatest number of delegates, particularly in relation to teamwork, spending time and developing relationships with colleagues, working as a team and understanding team roles. 81 per cent agreed they were more reflective about how to develop and improve, 70 per cent said they were now more proactive when approaching new tasks, and 83 per cent of apprentices said they were better prepared for starting the next year of their apprenticeship.

To find out more about how to get involved, contact martin.davidson@outwardbound.org.uk

Martin Davidson, director of The Outward Bound Trust