The following national occupational standards are currently available for the outdoor sector.
National occupational standards (NOS) are clear statements that describe the skills, knowledge & understanding needed for a particular role or function in employment. Applying the above definition to the ‘field’, there is now sector agreement on what needs to be done, known and understood when operating in a range of roles within the outdoor sector. More importantly, these are expressed in clear, plain English statements, which define the outcomes of competent performance expected by employers.
NOS are not standalone qualifications, and they certainly do not and cannot replace national governing body technical qualifications. For those instructing adventurous outdoor activities, knowledge of the relevant legal, regulatory and technical requirements for the activity is a must. The NOS are written with all organisations in mind. Employees can be salaried staff or unpaid volunteers – competent performance is required of both!
NOS have many uses. Some of the more common ones are: as a basis for job descriptions, job evaluations, training programmes and assessment programmes. Nationally accredited, vocationally-related qualifications also have to be mapped against the relevant NOS. Although a tool in their own right, commonly they form a platform for other ‘products’.
The activity leadership standards are the ‘entry level’ NOS for those working in the outdoors. They are suitable for those involved in the outdoors, sports and recreational activity leadership, and define the standards required for planning, delivering and evaluating generic activity sessions.
The outdoor programmes standards primarily cover those working (or volunteering) in the outdoor recreation, education or development training fields. They describe the skills, knowledge and understanding required by a typical instructor running outdoor programmes, often, but not exclusively, in an outdoor centre context. The standards reference NGB guidelines and qualifications, but do not describe the specifics of technical skills needed in addition to those of the instructor.
Expedition leadership and management is the first set of employer defined standards for the expedition sub-sector. The standards are occupational and relate to the individual, unlike British Standard BS8848 which defines the standards for organisations running expeditions to follow.
The outdoor sector senior roles NOS is a new suite of occupational standards created for those working with, or within, the outdoors sector. They are particularly relevant to the outdoor recreation / education / development training sub-sectors and those undertaking managerial, supervisory and senior practitioner roles.
An introductory document is available for download to complement the new suite; this will help to plant some ideas about using NOS, and will assist those new to occupational standards to maximise the value of the benefits available. The document also contains definitions of key terms used in the suite.