IOL CEO Andy Robinson interviewed for ITV on the need to keep residential outdoor centres open
Thousands of jobs in outdoor education could be lost in Cumbria by the end of January - according to a campaign that's gathering pace nationwide.
There are up to fifty outdoor centres in the county. The Government is advising schools not to run residential trips due to concerns around coronavirus.
Andy Robinson, Chief Executive of the Institute for Outdoor Learning, said: ""As we lose the skilled people and we lose the centres it will take years not just a few months to rebuild.
"We're not just talking about 2020 and 2021 being lost in terms of school opportunities, we're talking about years ahead. Cumbria is one of the best places in the UK to do these traditional outdoor learning residentials, there's a wealth of centres here.
"It provides some fantastic opportunities for the young people but also it provides important levels of economic benefit to the local communities."
The group say outdoor education is as important as what children learn in school and could cost the industry thousands of jobs if support cannot be found.
Tim Taylor, a Save Outdoor Education Campaigner, told ITV Border:"We are looking at over 15,000 jobs currently being at risk.
"Already between three and six thousand jobs have been lost and we're likely to see that go beyond 6,000 if the guidance remains in place and the centres can't operate with schools into 2021."
The Department for Education says since the start of term, schools have been able to run non-residential trips. There's guidance on how centres can reopen when restrictions ease and it's always under review.
The Scottish government says it's not possible to set an exact date for reopening as it depends on virus transmission between now and the new year. But outdoor education leaders are putting pressure on the Government to allow residential trips.
MP Tim Farron told ITV Border: "If the Government changes their advice and simply permits - doesn't instruct - but permits schools to have children go on outdoor education, residential visits, that will change the game completely.
" And will mean that those children will be as safe as they would be in school but they'll also get this additional, really important opportunity and we'll save an all important sector of employment and activity here in Cumbria."
MPs have launched the All Party Parliamentary Group for Outdoor Learning, with MP Tim Farron as a vice chair of the group, who will be pushing for financial support for the sector.
The Department for Education's guidance on school residential visits means that schools are not able to take advantage of centres that are spread across the UK.