A bit of career advice?

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ahyeahstark
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A bit of career advice?

Post by ahyeahstark » Thu Aug 24, 2017 4:09 pm

Hi,

I'm not sure if this is the right forum to post this in so please move it to the right place if not.

My son has just finished a btec in outdoor pursuits, he wants to be an instructor. he didn't get the best grades so it looks like continuing to uni is out of the question for him.

His college is offering a 3rd year which is mostly activity based where he'll gain a bunch of NGBs :

BCU/UKCC Foundation Safety and Rescue Course
BCU/UKCC Level 1 Coach or BCU/UKCC Level 2 Coach Training
BCU/UKCC White Water Safety and Rescue Course
BCU/UKCC Tidal Planning and Navigation Course
BCU/UKCC 3 Star Sea Kayak Training and Assessment
BCU/UKCC 3 Star Open Canoe Training and Assessment
BCU/UKCC 3 Star White Water Kayak Training and Assessment
Single Pitch Award Climbing Training
MIAS Mountainbike Leaders Level 1
Mountain Training Association Lowland Leader Award Training or Assessment
First Aid for the Outdoors

He already has his 3 star BCU and the single pitch I think....

So, what would you guys reccommend? Is it worth trying to get him into uni or would he be better off getting the NGBs and some experience?

BobbyR
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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by BobbyR » Thu Aug 24, 2017 6:20 pm

Well i'm not a pro-instructor but i know a few. The ones i know only have NGBs but some have non-relevant degrees and teaching backgrounds. I'm not sure what uni outdoor courses are like but surely vocational education is the way forward but then again three years away from home at uni is a maturing process which is attractive for employers. But then Uni is not the only way to achieve that.

Perhaps better for him to get the NGBs and work/intern a summer away from home. If he wants to work abroad then languages are a must in my opinion, as organisation, logistics and problem solving seem a huge part of the job... At least thats what i pay instructors for!

cp
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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by cp » Thu Aug 24, 2017 8:47 pm

The qualifications you have stated will only alloww him to coach on flat sheltered water you need at least level 2 for moving water, with MWE. I'm no expert on for outdoor education but within B.C. qualifications this will not allow you to do much other than work at at the likes of PGL. It's a good start but don't be under the impression this will allow acareer in the outdoors without ant further qualifications

Chris

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Simon Westgarth
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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by Simon Westgarth » Thu Aug 24, 2017 9:46 pm

He'll get most of those qualifications with a good employer and obtain great experiences too. Someone like PGL is a good start for this option.

stonercanoe
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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by stonercanoe » Thu Aug 24, 2017 10:33 pm

I work in a Local Education Authority Outdoor Centre. If your son can get all that stuff from a 3rd year at college that looks good.
Personally £50,000 invested at uni or time spent getting experience and qualifications, the second option would be my choice.
My first job in the outdoors was PGL followed by summer camps in USA. Thoroughly recommend both.
Lots of centers run apprentice schemes. Three in South Wales I can recommend are; Plas Pencelli, Trewern, and Tirabad.
Most important qualification for us is trailer and minibus license along with being a decent person!
Hope this helps.
Jason

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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by Mark Dixon » Fri Aug 25, 2017 7:51 am

I would recomend he stay at college for another year, hes used to the environment and will mature another year. The best way forward would to also do some of the awards privately or better still get involved with a club set up and coach with them, generally they will help you achieve the the coaching awards as well.
If he hasnt the best grades I would be careful with sending him to Uni until he can cope with the academic side, its mostly paperwork, disertations, research etc and it could be a massive struggle. If he still wants to be in the outdoor industry then he can do Uni quals in years to come.
I have 2 sons that have entered into the outdoor industry, 1 has been doing for chasing 20 years and now managing centres, the other realised it is crap money and just does personal paddling, climbing etc.
PGL or similar company wages will never be able to support a family unless youra director so that will also have to be taken into consideration also IMO
Mark

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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by MikeVeal » Fri Aug 25, 2017 8:27 am

Sounds like you son knows what he wants to do. I don't think Uni will help open doors in instructing but he may find it useful if he wants to do centre management.

Having seen many keen paddlers at our local centre struggle with the money, I'd suggest planning to learn a skill he can use to supplement his income. There is never a shortage of work for skilled plasterers or plumbers and they can pretty much choose their hours.

I also know several sports professionals (including a UK & world record holder in paragliding) who have lost the love. There is a big difference between participating a sport for fun and making it a career.

To be clear I've never done it. It doesn't pay well enough, I couldn't hack the lifestyle or the repetitive nature of teaching. That and I'm fairly sure no one would want me! :)

ahyeahstark
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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by ahyeahstark » Fri Aug 25, 2017 12:12 pm

thanks for the advice, i'm glad the concensus is to gain experience over a degree esp as he may well find after a yer or two he wants to do something else.

Do the likes of PGL train their staff well then? I was under the impression it was quite hard to get employrs to pay for NGBs.

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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by Jim » Fri Aug 25, 2017 1:11 pm

What is his end goal, and what is the uni course he is looking at?
Another way to make a decent living from outdoor pursuits is to become a teacher with outdoor education, but to do that he would need to do a degree, and then a PGCE (or have they changed the name of it now? I know you can doteaching degrees straight off but I don't think you can do outdoor ed straight off?) BUT the outdoor ed PGCE tends to be highly competitive to get onto so might be difficult to get a place if he is struggling with grades already.

If uni was plan A and he has already applied and you can afford for him to go, it is worth contacting the uni he applied to and seeing what they have to say, the grades they specify are sometimes a bit of a wish list and they may still take him with lower grades, depending on how they break down (for engineering say, a good maths result might be enough to allow the other 2 to be much poorer than originally required). It is nearly 25 years since I went through this, but I didn't get my grades in the specified order and having braced myself for rejection was too surprised to say anything much when my first choice uni said yes right away - I think they specified B in maths and I got C, but they decided that B in tech compensated for that.

But if plan A is just to be an instructor, stick to the vocational route - college may be good, but even better will be to find a job where the employer will pay for extra qualifications as they need him to have them. Finding employers to pay for NGBs depends on a lot of things - I don't know the situation now but in the past big outfits like PGL would take on virtually unqualified people and had the senior staff already in house to train and assess them for the NGBs they needed them to have. They may need external assessors now, or they may simply be able to use people from different centres for training and assessment. Working for the big organisations at junior level may be close to slave labour, but a lot of people do (did) it for the training opportunites. Single centres don't have the resources to be able to do that so will need instructors to pay for more of their own qualifications.

As an aside, my uni canoe club was joint between our uni and the poly (which had recently become a uni), a good friend who actually studied at the poly noted several years after we all graduated that the graduates from the poly were all in better/higher paying jobs than those of us from the uni. These days it is much harder to recognise the roots of an institution, but you can still see which courses are more vocational and which are more abstract.

kayak_girl
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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by kayak_girl » Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:47 am

Hi
I am a Uni lecturer when not paddling and give careers advice to LOTS of people. The advice I give to my students is:

Do what you WANT to do. It is very difficult to succeed at something you are not motivated to do. If your son wants to be an instructor, the 3rd year a college would be a step in that direction.

Check your chosen course(s) gives you the right qualifications for your intended career. Sounds obvious, but you would be surprised - I'm a mathematician and some of my students think a maths degree will qualify them as an accountant. It wont. (This is why the Poly students Jim knows have better jobs). In your son's case the qualifications above are a good start to getting a job at PGL or similar which is the first rung in Outdoor Ed.

Money isnt everything, but do check that your intended career will fund your intended lifestyle for the next few years. Unless there is a trust fund of course ;) Note that I couldnt live on an OE salary, and as a lecturer I dont have massive earning potential.

Nobody has a career for life anymore. You can always do something else at a later date (eg Uni) and mature students dont need formal qualifications if they have the skills from employment.

Shortage careers are: Modern Langauges, Maths, Sciences, Computing, Construction, Engineering. If you like the sound of any of these, it is easier to get a well paid job.

If you dont know what to do, take a year out, get a minimum wage type job and mull it over for a bit, the grind of full time shop/bar/labourer/factory work is a maturing experience.

I'll put it out there - join the armed forces instead? I know quite a few Instructors who were in the forces.

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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by LucyLou19 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 7:52 pm

Hi,

I am an Outdoor Instructor and have been since graduating. I studied Psychology at Bangor University; then undertook my basic qualifications (ML, SPA, UKCC L2 etc) while on an internship style programme at Plas Y Brenin, where I worked for 15 months essentially for free, in exchange for food, board, equipment training and qualifications. I then worked in the Care System for 2 years, finished qualifications and developed my experience with young people by working with children with EBD. Since then I worked in an Outdoor Center in the Lake District which provided the curriculum programme for a private school, and then began travelling, recently returning to take up a head of expeditions role within a school.

My advice will be to start travelling. A friend who dropped out of her degree is now deputy managing a climbing wall in Oman with her SPA certificate. I only accessed the work I have just accessed (head of expeditions) since travelling. Companies around the world are far more interested in experience of a person than an arbitary certification.

In terms of qualifications, the BTEC year allows him to continue to gain some basic level of UK qualifications. I would say for a UK career within the outdoors, unless you are a team level paddler in your discipline, a strong second discipline in Mountaineering or Mountain Biking is essential. When I worked at PYB, all contracted instructors, even those contracted soley on the basis of their Paddlesport (i.e. Sponsored, UKCC Level 5 coaches) also had their ML. It is possible to freelance and make your sole living with just your ML providied you work hard and build a good reputation.

I would suggest however it is vital to build the career pathway for when injury occurs. You see very few Outdoor Instructors working over 50, for good reason. It is pretty hard on your body. Moving into providing courses will allow for increasing longevity over provding intro sessions; especially providing courses like First Aid Award. Some sort of income protection insurance is vital if freelancing, as is good accounting.

Remember the right choice is sometimes not easy, Ive been in tears and questioned my choices within the Outdoors more times than I care to admit, especially when injured! But ultimatley it is a rewarding, fantastic career.

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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by ml1850 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:38 am

Hi, think anyone following this route needs to be mindful of potential Brexit implications with companies like PGL,Mark Warner etc. They're no longer going to be allowed British qualified instructors abroad or will be at the mercy of work visa negotiations. Also the financial model used by these companies of paying their overseas staff in Britain to avoid paying the in-country rates is no longer going to wash,and raises questions about whether there is a long term future for this type of operation abroad. Sorry for the doom and gloom, I live and work in the Savoie,( ski/winter,paddlesports/summer) and the potential death of the British chalet holiday due to Brexit is of great concern locally.

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Frank B
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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by Frank B » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:33 am

Dont wish to pour cold water over your plans but making a decent living in outdoor education / coaching in the UK is very difficult.I know several well qualified coaches who have had to change careers to make a living. I dont think there as a living to be made in paddling unless you make or sell boats. Being a paddling world champion is certainly not a route (on its own) to earning a living wage although it was a lot of fun, for one who was, at the time

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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by Simon Westgarth » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:16 pm

Frank B wrote:
Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:33 am
Dont wish to pour cold water over your plans but making a decent living in outdoor education / coaching in the UK is very difficult.I know several well qualified coaches who have had to change careers to make a living. I dont think there as a living to be made in paddling unless you make or sell boats. Being a paddling world champion is certainly not a route (on its own) to earning a living wage although it was a lot of fun, for one who was, at the time
This is of course a concern for anyone coming into an industry. Attempting to year round based in the UK deliver a range of programmes will tie you to a single large centre or you'll be faced with having a range of customers that match your changing seasonal offering. Alternatives is to go where the work is, or more importantly go where the better work is, that is travel to high wage destinations. In addition to work in some third party industry, airport shuttling at ski-hills, working the bar in the evenings, etc.

With public funding under a huge squeeze, NGB providers whose past income has been funded from grants, are increasingly looking at obtaining income from their course providers, except a 10-20% increase in BC course fees rates in the coming years. Basing a huge share of your income on NGB courses is not an ideal situation, the goalpost get moved often and as the weaker party you have little recourse.

Pro=paddlers rarely get an creditable income from paddlesports sponsors, you'll need to command at bigger marketing pull to obtain income from non-paddlesports headline sponsors, but those in this group are a few dozen at the most globally.

For UK only based centre coaches/instructors, the school holidays is where the work is, from mid September until before Easter the work load is often barren. Diversification into say First Aid courses or weekend rafting, is an option, but being able to shift ahead in a career from this position is difficult, needs both luck, opportunity and endeavour. It is at this part of the industry that sees lots of churn with people dropping out. To coin a phrase, "it's all niche".
ml1850 wrote:
Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:38 am
Hi, think anyone following this route needs to be mindful of potential Brexit implications with companies like PGL,Mark Warner etc. They're no longer going to be allowed British qualified instructors abroad or will be at the mercy of work visa negotiations. Also the financial model used by these companies of paying their overseas staff in Britain to avoid paying the in-country rates is no longer going to wash, and raises questions about whether there is a long term future for this type of operation abroad. Sorry for the doom and gloom, I live and work in the Savoie,( ski/winter,paddlesports/summer) and the potential death of the British chalet holiday due to Brexit is of great concern locally.
The fall out from Brexit may bring a number of new problems for UK business and instructors operating in the EU. Without an idea as to what is going to happen, if at all, there is sadly little planning that can be done up front. The likes of PGL whom bring in tourists, will I doubt have little changes. Inbound tour operators bring income to destinations, and they are always welcomed around the world, although a working visa scheme may prove problematic to any frictionless staff deployments. In terms of bring staff and then selling to the local market, this is where the like of the French Alpine Ski industry has been a prickly subject. Post Brexit, this will no doubt be less tolerated if at all. Issues such as working conditions parity are hard to prove with a seasonal and fluid workforce, still bringing in cheaper labour to do job locals can do, may create further conflict. The situation is more one to watch, and wait and see, for now.

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Re: A bit of career advice?

Post by Simon Westgarth » Tue Sep 05, 2017 9:47 pm

Some extra reading: Top 10 Pointless Degrees

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