What next? Beyond your Mountain Training awards

Posted by Nicola Jasieniecka on 26/03/2014
What lies beyond? Photo: Phil Dowthwaite

If you hold a Mountain Training award and aren’t sure what to do next, here’s our mini-guide to life after assessment.

Mountain Training awards take time and commitment to complete. Clocking up the mountain days or climbing sessions before training, gaining valuable experience both personally and with groups during the consolidation phase and preparing for assessment is no mean feat, especially if you are juggling this with family, work and other commitments.  So when you have successfully passed your award: what happens next?

Further development isn’t all about gaining the next level of award, although for some people each award is a stepping stone en route to the next one, it’s about broadening and deepening your skill set to make you a more rounded individual. Whether or not this leads on to another Mountain Training award, passing an assessment doesn’t have to mean the end of your personal development.

There are plenty of options for you to consider…

1.  Set yourself some goals for the future

Spend a bit of time evaluating where you are at and where you want to go. Find out what development means to you; is it learning more about the environment and geology to share with your clients or learning new skills that will enable you to work with vulnerable adults or people with disabilities. 

The key word is “personal,” it’s all about you, your goals, aspirations and interests and how you want to develop. If you’ve gained the Single Pitch Award and become a Mountain Leader, is the Mountaineering Instructor Award something you’d like to do? Or would you rather think about Winter Mountain Leader?

It may be that you are happy with the award(s) you have successfully achieved and you have no desire to do any more. If this is the case, your goals might involve exploring new places each time you take a group out walking or learning how to use a GPS.

Whatever your goals are, write them down and make a plan of action for achieving them within a specified timescale. Some of the other options below might help as well.

2.  Join an association

The Mountain Training Association provides a gateway to a variety of approved workshops enhancing your knowledge about the environment, flora and fauna, geology, exploring the scope of the awards and refreshing and updating your skills. All of this will enhance your skills and add value to the days you spend with your clients or groups. 

In addition to the workshops, the Mountain Training Association has regional groups which host events and meetings to provide a valuable source of networking, peer learning and opportunities to practice skills whilst in an open and friendly environment. This is especially valuable to those who work on a freelance basis and/or those who often work in isolation.

Getting out with equals to share new experiences and explore your own limits is of huge value, will enhance your personal performance and increase your confidence and shouldn’t be underestimated in any development plan.

The Association is a way of staying engaged with Mountain Training, keeping up with new developments, changing practices and current issues.

The Association of Mountaineering Instructors (AMI) and the British Association of International Mountain Leaders (BAIML) provide similar support for their members.

3.  Source your own Continued Personal Development

Development opportunities are limitless if you know where to look. If you are involved with organisations such as the Scouts, Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, Girl Guiding, the Institute of Outdoor Learning, the Calvert Trust, Mountain Rescue, NICAS or NNAS (among many others), take advantage of their resources. Many of them offer workshops and courses designed to enhance and broaden your skills within a particular field of expertise. These skills are often transferrable and recognised more widely by other organisations.

The National Mountain Centres, Mountain Training and many independent businesses offer an array of opportunities to up skill or learn something new. Do your homework; research companies to ensure they are well placed, specialist in the subjects they are offering, value for money and meet your development needs.

Bursaries and funding are also available and worth investigating. See the list of subsidised courses and grants co-ordinated by Plas y Brenin, for example the Jonathan Conville Memorial Trust. Other avenues for funding your development are available.

4.  Rely on your employer to provide you with relevant development (not possible for self-employed)

Many employers provide both in-house training and staff development. The aim of in-house training is often to establish consistent delivery between members of staff or to update them on new procedures within the company. Some employers are excellent at developing the skill set of their staff through internal training whereas others choose to outsource their learning. However your employer organises staff development, an appraisal meeting is the ideal time to discuss your aspirations with your line manager and form an action plan. A good employer will understand the mutual benefits this brings.

Regardless of your intentions for the future, the outdoor industry is dynamic and keeping up with good practice remains an essential part of holding any award.


Watch a film about exploring the Alps with the Conville Trust on BMC TV:

This article is part of a series of articles celebrating Mountain Training’s 50th anniversary year in 2014.



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