Bridging the Skills Gap in Young People


OBT NOV D2 S3 0106Latest research from the CBI[1] shows that many employers are dissatisfied with the skills of their young talent.

33% of employers were dissatisfied with their graduates' self-management/resilience, 29% with their communication and 26% with teamwork skills. Scores for school and college leavers were even more discouraging – with a staggering 60% of employers reporting dissatisfaction with school/college leaver skills in self-management/resilience, 49% with their communication and 43% with problem solving skills.

With over 2,000 young people attending an Outward Bound programme as part of an apprenticeship or graduate scheme last year, we work with our clients to improve the performance of their young talent and to address the skills gaps facing them in early employment. Each Outward Bound programme is unique, tailored to the specific development needs of the cohort attending and the requirements of their employer. But ultimately they all aim to enable participants to develop the skills that underpin effective workplace performance, in the context of their chosen career.

Evaluation and results

As with all of our work with young people, measuring the effectiveness of these programmes is critical, enabling us to maximise the impact for participants and their organisations and to further improve our courses. Using post-course feedback gathered after every programme we compile an annual report of trends across the apprentice and graduate population.

We surveyed 1,990 apprentices and 409 graduates who had been on an Outward Bound programme as part of their employment in 2014-2015. We also combined and analysed the responses from 124 visiting staff (line managers and other employees who work with the apprentices and graduates, and had attended the Outward Bound programme).

  • 95% of apprentices and 96% of graduates said their Outward Bound course had been worthwhile
  • 94% of apprentices and 90% of graduates said they had gained skills that would make a positive difference to their performance at work
  • 100% of visiting staff members agreed with both statements.


Each apprentice or graduate programme has detailed learning objectives which are developed by our staff together with the employer. Apprentice feedback following participation on an Outward Bound programme shows we're delivering well on objectives and addressing some of the skills that the CBI survey shows employers are dissatisfied with:

  • 98% of apprentices on programmes with learning objectives related to communication or working with others said they had mostly or fully met the objective
  • 95% of those on programmes with objectives around self-management skills felt they had mostly or fully met this
  • 93% attending a programme designed to improve problem solving skills said they had mostly or fully met this objective.

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Impact studies for apprentice programmes

The CBI found that nearly two thirds of the employers who responded to their survey planned to start an apprentice programme or expand their existing one – the highest proportion since 2008. As demand for apprentice development grows, in addition to using the results from these questionnaires, we are currently conducting a series of bespoke impact studies for some of our apprentice programmes. These look at the longer-term impact of our programmes, specifically, how the apprentices apply their learning back in the workplace and the benefits this has to their organisation. Watch this space for results early in 2016.


Find out more about our approach -  apprentice and graduate development