Supporting young people in their journey to, and within, employment

Above: Ullswater's brand new equipment stores - it's what's on the inside that counts.

“What was your first job?” That’s the question that Martin Cooper (Head of Centre at Ullswater) first posed to us when we arrived at Ullswater for a tour of the brand-new equipment stores.

The question was significant, and he asked it for a reason, it immediately transported us back to our youth and got us talking about our first taste of employment.

As Dame Fiona Kendrick writes: the jobs we have in our early youth "shaped us in more ways than one; they made us resilient, taught us how to handle responsibility and also to juggle priorities. We cultivated and developed these skills later in life and they were the foundations of our future careers."

By making us consider our first job - from what we did and how much we earned (I was a paper boy and I earned £2 a round) to the mistakes that we made and skills that we learned, Martin successfully got us to appreciate the importance of our early years in employment and what it meant to us.

Employability skills in practice:

And that’s when it struck us. What was about to be shown us was not just an equipment store, it was an employability project. Martin explained: “if all we had built was waterproof and warm it would have been a totally wasted opportunity”.

Of course the £3 million stores are cutting edge and stunning to look at, but when you’re using them, you soon realise that it’s not just the building that makes it, but the people, practises and attitudes that inhabit it.

By bringing together research from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, STEMNET and the CBI, the centre team are focusing on three major employment skills to integrate throughout the buildings processes. These include commercial awareness, planning and organisation/preperation and time management (see table below).



Commercial awareness

Promoting an awareness of the external environment and the need to behave in a considerate manor while in and around the equipment stores.

Planning and organisation

Instilling an appreciation for prior preparation and planning before embarking on a specific challenge or task.

Time management

Encouraging good time keeping and punctual performance in order to meet deadlines and commitments. 

Participants are asked to reflect on each of these key skills throughout their Outward Bound® journey and then challenged to apply them during their personal lives, whether that be at school, home or in the workplace.

The effect of this has been a perceptible improvement in problem solving, personal responsibility and self-awareness amongst participants, Martin told us. There have also been fewer incidences of missed breakfasts, left behind lunches and lost or misplaced kit.

This has had a knock on effect on the quality of courses too. With less time being spent hanging around at centre and more time being dedicated to the learning and adventure that occurs out on the mountains and lakes.

Indeed, Martin’s initiative has become so successful it is now being rolled out across The Trust’s many other centres too.

As the demand on schools to focus on workplace behaviours and attributes for future employment grows, The Trust has made it a key priority to support young people in their journey to, and within, employment from the moment they arrive at centres.

To find out more about The Trust’s commitment to innovation and employability skills, download our strategic framework and vision for 2020: The Mountains are Calling.