National ‘soft skills’ training: Investigating soft skill training in the outdoor recreation sector

2019-02-25T04:24:40Z (GMT) by Mandi Baker Wendy O'Brien

At the centre of the best outdoor experiences is a person; a leader who facilitates the individuals, group and environment in such a way that makes positive and lasting impressions on participants. The skills and abilities facilitators bring to these encounters are diverse yet require that they are adept at emotional perception, management and processing as well as interpersonal connection and communication. The performance and embodiment of ‘emotion work’ is central to everyday fulfillment of outdoor leader roles. However, emotion work is largely invisible and thus lacks acknowledgement and training in outdoor education/certification programs nationally. VET and university programs present a variety of foci and emphasis on ‘soft skills’. Even then, what is meant by soft skills is ambiguous and rarely articulates the personal/emotional investment required in delivering meaningful participant experiences. Hence, a better understanding of what ‘soft skills’ are required by and taught to outdoor leaders is necessary in improving outcomes for participants and leaders in organised outdoor recreations. A clear set of interpersonal, communication and emotion work skills should be taught to outdoor leaders in order that they are able to deliver meaningful connections between outdoor experiences, nature, and positive relationships with others.


Baker, M., & O’Brien, W. (2017). National ‘soft skills’ training: Investigating soft skill training in the outdoor recreation sector. Leura, NSW: BMIHMS@Torrens University Australia.