Work experience pays off for outdoor education students

Image representing Work experience pays off for outdoor education students
Jasmine Hobbs, former Outdoor Education student now working at Viney Hill Adventure Centre.

Supporting its commitment to ensuring its students leave college work-ready, Gloucestershire College is thrilled to announce that three quarters of its Outdoor Education students have gained full-time employment in a relevant industry, as a result of successful work placements.

These students, who studied Level 3 Outdoor Education at Royal Forest of Dean Campus, have progressed into permanent roles with local and national companies including Wye Dean Canoe Centre, Whitemead Forest Park, Viney Hill Adventure Centre, Pedal a Bike Away and PGL.

The work placements were undertaken as part of a work experience unit of their qualification. All full-time GC students have the opportunity to do work experience alongside their course in order to gain additional skills and make their CVs really stand out.

The Outdoor Education course is taught by industry experts Colin Johnson and Emrys Cook, who are able to breathe life into the theory they teach, not to mention benefit students with their local industry links. 

A qualified mountain leader, trail cycle leader, kayak coach and white water kayak leader, Emrys worked as an Outdoor Leader for Peak Pursuits prior to joining the College; using outdoor education as a rehabilitation and development tool for at-risk, expelled and offending youth. 

While Colin boasts nine years’ experience in the Territorial Army and a further 10 years’ experience working with the Army Cadet Force and as a freelance instructor in the Wye and Dean area. Colin’s qualifications include Mountain Leader, Trail Cycle Leader, Single Pitch Award and Paddlesports Coaching Award. 

Emrys, who is the Course Leader for Outdoor Education, said: “This is the second year we have had this volume of successful progression from our students; in the placements all displayed professional and dynamic leadership qualities which employers look for.

“Last year seven students gained employment following their work placements. They are still with the same employers, developing their skills further and gaining more additional qualifications and experience in the industry.”

20-year-old Jasmine Hobbs from Cinderford undertook a two-week work experience placement with Viney Hill Adventure Centre, during which she impressed staff so much that they offered her a full-time position when she completed her course. She also gained a First Aid Award, UKCC Paddlesports Coaching Award and Level 1 Mountain Biking qualification.

Jasmine said: “I love the natural environment and wanted to take full advantage of living in the forest and the resources it has. When I started the course I didn’t think I would get a career out of it but by the end I knew of so many opportunities and places to work! 

“The support and lecturers at GC were amazing. They helped me be the instructor I wanted to be, without fear, without doubt, but with confidence. I was awfully shy but through hard work and determination from my lecturers, I can do it all in an instant! I am now able to lead a group of clients and improvise on the spot.

“GC was an amazing place to learn and I do honestly miss it. Being a part of this course for three years was the highlight of my time in education, and I thank every single lecturer and student for being there to enjoy it with me!” 

20-year-old Mathew Crocker from Coleford undertook a work experience placement at Pedal a Bike Away as part of the same course, and following successful completion he too was offered a full-time position at the cycle centre.

Image representing Work experience pays off for outdoor education students
Mathew Crocker, former Outdoor Education student, in action at Pedal a Bike Away.

Mathew said: “After doing A Levels for a year and realising this isn't what I wanted to do, I thought I’d look for an opportunity to work in an outdoor environment. I've always been into outdoor sports like rugby, mountain biking and freestyle BMX, and the Outdoor Education course encouraged me to go out and learn more about other sports and eventually teach people how to do said sports.

“The GC lecturers made the two years of hard work and long cold days bearable, and helped us to really push ourselves whilst learning new and exciting skills such as coasteering, kayaking and gorge walking. 

“I did 10 days’ work experience at Pedalabikeaway and they then took me on after I completed my course as a full-time member of staff! I am now a qualified Level 3 Mountain Bike Coach and Guide, which means I get to do what I love and teach people the skills I’ve learnt throughout the years.”

Alongside the popular Level 3 Outdoor Education course, GC is now accepting applications for September starts for the foundation degree in Outdoor Adventure, Leadership and Development – new for 2016. Find out more at www.gloscol.ac.uk/sport or call 0345 155 2020.

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