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Occupational Standards

Supporting education, training and giving people control of their career

Supporting the Sector Workforce


The IOL Outdoor Workforce Map illustrates the many different job roles in the sector. Every employer or organisation will have their own structure and titles for their staff and preferred route into employment, however occupational standards provide a common reference point for volunteers, employees, employers and training and education specialists. Occupational standards support outdoor professionals to be competent in their role.

A number of specific roles already have occupational standards that are defined and accepted; e.g. canoe coaching, rock climbing instruction, dinghy sailing instruction, etc. There is no intention for IOL to do anything more than reference or map an existing standard to the IOL occupational standard. IOL will focus attention on holistic roles within the sector.


IOL Outdoor Workforce Map


The case for Occupational Standards

  • Defined standards for occupations in the sector allow us to promote career pathways, give consistency in professional training and help us to recruit and retain talent in the sector.
  • We don’t attract talent to the sector because we can’t articulate the breadth of opportunities available in it.
  • We lose talent because we can’t describe and offer people pathways where they can take control of their career progression.
  • Without occupational standards giving a common language, we have no insight or figures on the skills or numbers of people employed in the sector, and can’t track any changes or trends.
  • Occupational standards give educators and trainers a common reference point to align what they offer with the skills and knowledge employers have identified.
  • We don’t use money wisely - we retrain staff because we can’t be sure of the knowledge and skills they have, and the knowledge and skills they need to gain.

Pathways to Chartered Professional

IOL aim to support a variety of routes for members to gain chartered professional status. Occupational standards are an essential foundation for IOL to become a Chartered Professional Institute. They help us to:

  • Raise the status of outdoor professionals and the important role they play
  • Show the sector can offer full career pathways
  • Bring outdoor learning in-line with other professions
  • Support recruitment and retention


Occupational Standards

Role Role Description Standard Notes
Assistant Outdoor Activity Instructor Supports the provision of safe and enjoyable outdoor activity sessions In development IOL Occupational Standard - Assistant Outdoor Activity Instructor
Outdoor Activity Instructor

Leads and instructs activities safely in the outdoors to deliver skills, learning or participation outcomes

They will prepare for the session, deliver the session, meet the session outcome and close the session.

Activities can include forest schools, canoeing, sailing, climbing, surfing, cycling, hillwalking, archery, bushcraft, rock pooling, geology, plant identification, team-building initiatives, habitat or wildlife walks, etc.

Published February 2020 IOL Occupational Standard - Outdoor Activity Instructor
Outdoor Learning Specialist/Professional Enables progressive learning and change in the outdoors using a sequence of activities and applying the values & principles of outdoor learning First draft not yet available In development as possible New Apprenticeship Standard
Team Leader/Duty Manager Front line manager with responsibilities for supporting, managing and developing team members and projects First draft not yet available In development
Will be similar to Apprenticeship Standards for:
Team Leader/Supervisor, level 3, funding £4,500
Leisure Duty Manager, level 3, funding £5,000
Hospitality Manager, level 4, funding £6,000
Operations Manager/Centre Manager Responsibility for input into strategic planning, creating and delivering operational plans, managing projects, leading and managing teams, managing change, financial and resource management, talent management, supporting people through coaching & mentoring First draft not yet available In development
Will be similar to Apprenticeship Standards for:
Hospitality Manager, level 4, funding £6,000
Operations / Departmental Manager, level 5, funding £7,000
General Manager/Chartered Manager Responsibility for people, projects, operations and/or services to deliver long term organisational success, with the professional recognition of their ability to deliver impact, behave ethically and demonstrate their commitment to continual learning and development First draft not yet available In development
Will be similar to Apprenticeship Standards for:
Chartered Manager (Degree), level 6, funding £22,000


What IOL is doing to support the sector

  1. This work began following a review of IOL Professional Standards in 2016 and has been boosted by managing the creation of a new employer-led Outdoor Apprenticeship.
  2. IOL aim to reference or publish an Occupational Standard for roles where employers recognise a common definition of the skills, knowledge and behaviours required. We have started with the role of Outdoor Activity Instructor - based on the apprenticeship standard developed with the support of over 40 employers.
  3. Occupational Standards will be added to, modified or removed in order to ensure they represent employers needs in a professional and skilled workforce. They are living documents.
  4. Members are encouraged to input into the standards as we develop them. Please comment to IOL Professional Standards Manager.



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