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Outdoor Apprenticeships

Further your career outside

New opportunities are waiting, are you ready?


An apprenticeship is a real job with training, enabling learners to earn while they learn and to achieve nationally recognised qualifications.
Apprenticeships are available to businesses of all sizes and sectors in England and can last from 12 months to four years, depending on the type or level of the programme. Apprentices can be either new or current employees.



The NEW Outdoor Activity Instructor Apprenticeship focuses on training individuals who are new to the sector to run safe and enjoyable activity sessions with children and adults. IOL Project Management assisted employers drawn from across the breadth of the Outdoor Sector to collaborate and produce a ground-breaking new Trailblazer Outdoor Activity Instructor Apprenticeship Standard. The standard is at Level 3, lasts 12-18 months, and has no set training syllabus so can be bespoke to each Apprentice, include the use of relevant NGB awards, and attract up to £6000 of funding towards off-the-job training and end-point assessment per apprentice.

Employers and IOL are now biding to Government to create further Trailblazer Apprenticeships appropriate for more complex roles. More details here.




"This new apprenticeship is a game changer – built by employers, this single Standard encompasses all job types across the sector, is well funded and for the first time recognises the sectors use of NGB awards – Fantastic”.

Andy Robinson – CEO Institute for Outdoor Learning.


“The help and support provided to the employer group by IOL, and Neal Anderson in particular, has been exemplary. This new Apprenticeship will enable employers, small and large, to boost their business by providing a pipeline of incredibly well-trained new employees”.

Mark Lavington – Chair Employer Outdoor Instructor Trailblazer Group.






(%) Increase in funding band for employers who move to the OAI Standard


(£) Is the upper limit of the funding band for the Outdoor Activity Apprenticeship


Employers contributed to the design of the Outdoor Apprenticeship Standard


OAI Trailblazer Reference Group

The OAI Trailblazer Reference Group review reports of EQA activity for the OAI Apprenticeship, guides on interpreting the EPA assessment plan and present Employer requirements, and supports the 3 year review of the Apprenticeship and ensure it remains fit-for-purpose. This group meets twice a year (online) and comprises employers who are actively providing the apprenticeship (i.e. not Training Providers or End Point Assessment Organisations) and has between 8 and 12 members from a variety of geography, business sizes and business product focus.

If you are employing OAI Apprentices and interested in being part of the OAI Trailblazer Reference Group please email IOL to register your interest.



Join the Workforce Training Employer Group

Workforce Training Employer Group Members are part of a email list where they can ask questions and get answers from colleagues, the IOL team and the Outdoor Trailblazer Reference Group, about issues such as apprenticeship funding, training options, recruitment, etc. IOL Organisational Members and AHOEC Members are invited to nominate one member of their team to be part of the FREE ONLINE Workforce Training Employer Group for apprenticeships and staff training.

To register as part of the group email IOL using the link provided with the name of your organisation and the name and email address of the person who you are nominating to be a member of the Trainee and Apprentice Development Employer Group.




Developing the Outdoor Activity Instructor Apprenticeship

Built over the last 2 years by a wide range of outdoor employers, the result is a fit-for-purpose funded training route for entry level roles across the breadth of outdoor instructional work in England. The full group of 49 employers represented a range and variety of businesses and products prevalent in the sector and were led by Employer Chair Mark Lavington (PGL) with guidance and project management from Neal Anderson (IOL).

Development for the Outdoor Activity Instructor Apprenticeship involved employers donating time and expertise - Working Group members, 8 days each; Trailblazer Chair, 50 days; IOL support, 20 days plus Project Management (approx £30,000); and Consultancy (£8,500) offset by financial contributions (total £9,500) from AHOEC, Inspiring Learning and PGL. Many employers and training organisations are set to benefit from this input and at an estimate of 600 starts per year, the new outdoor activity instructor apprenticeship is likely to bring in an additional £2.76 million of funding per year into the sector.

The following organisations all played an active part in the project working group:
IOL (Neal Anderson), PGL (Mark Lavington), Pioneer Sailing Trust (David Tournay), Heatree Activity Centre (Roger Hopper), Lindley Educational Trust (Andy Robinson), Field Studies Council (Claire Fowler), Inspiring Learning (Matt Healey/Robert Sidley), Peak District National Park (Sarah Wilkes), Lake District Calvert Trust (Sean Day), JCA Adventure (Steve Parry), Channel Training (Darren Sherwood/Jim Whittaker), Plas y Brennin (Mike Raine), Action 4 Youth (Steve Randles), Haven Banks OEC (John Seers), Kendal College (Re Barnard), Locomotivation (Rhia Jones/Claire Kefford)


 Read about the history of the trailblazer group and the development of the Outdoor Activity Instructor Apprenticeship



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