The UK outdoors industry sector is based on the provision of services, typically instructing, leading or coaching, to users in natural outdoor environments. It is a rich and diverse sector and the sector gains strength from this diversity.Outdoors overview

The sector overall has experienced excellent growth in recent years and this pattern is expected to continue in the future, though there have been significant changes within specific areas.

The sector has long been seen as having three primary sub-sectors:

  • Outdoor recreation
  • Outdoor education
  • Development training

This is a starting point, and other significant growing sub-sectors can be added to the mix. Expeditions, adventure tourism, forest schools, adventure therapy and bushcraft have all seen substantial growth over the years. Many providers work across two or more sub-sectors.

Historically, the outdoors has been seen to be about non-competitive activity for one of the ‘purposes’ noted below in the diagram, though progression into further skills development and competition are part of the wider landscape linked into sport. There are close and long-established links with those sport National Governing Bodies which relate to the outdoors, such as RYA, BCU, BMC/Mountain Training, etc.

Outdoors diagram

Many different types of organisations operate in the sector (commercial, public and not for profit) and the sector offers a diverse range of career pathways. Often, a person working in the sector will go from one type of outdoors provision to another as their experience, skills and qualifications develop.

SkillsActive’s Work

SkillsActive’s work in the outdoors sector covers a variety of aspects of workforce development and support for employers in this field. We work closely with employers and employer groups in a two-way approach.

To help employers and individuals find training and jobs in the outdoors, we work closely with recognised training providers. We can also help with finding sources of funding to help with staff development and training, all of which supports the delivery of adventure activities in their different forms with all the benefits as noted above.

We work with expert groups, educators and industry stakeholders to ensure that a clear and current picture of the needs and issues of the sector is promoted.

SkillsActive works to ensure that outdoor courses, qualifications and Apprenticeships are based on National Occupational Standards and a national qualifications framework that reflects the real needs of outdoors employers.


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