I have seen many ‘course closing’ ceremonies at OBHK - occasions where there are a huge range of emotions on show…elation at what has been achieved, a definite sense of camaraderie that comes from achieving it together as an inter-dependent group, excitement at returning to friends and family (and phones and social media!) as well as a sense of not wanting to let go of the experiences that have had such an impact. Not once have I heard someone at these occasions express their gratitude for the impact an Outward Bound course has on their CV - which is understandable at the time, but most of our graduates will benefit enormously from the OB experience when applying to university, training courses or jobs.
The world of education is increasingly competitive - in HK there are public university places for less than 20% of the school graduates - and standing out from the crowd is ever-more important. While many chase better grades through ever-more tutoring and top-up classes in order to get into the university of their choice, many studies show (and this is a phenomenon not limited to Hong Kong) that the graduates from these university courses are not ready for the world of work. The Grant Thornton International Business Report in 2013 revealed that many companies in Hong Kong find young people deficient in both technical and soft skills, reflecting a global shift away from specific, technical skills to the soft skills that are required to succeed in the ‘digital age’,
The presence of an Outward Bound course on a CV demonstrates that the applicant has sought out the opportunity to develop themselves in ways that are not only different but relevant to their future development.
Therefore, the presence of an Outward Bound course on a CV demonstrates that the applicant has sought out the opportunity to develop themselves in ways that are not only different but relevant to their future development. Meeting new people, working together to solve group problems, practising leadership when required, communicating effectively are all required to navigate successfully through the first years at university and are all elements of the Outward Bound experience. However, displaying these in challenging conditions when cold, wet, sweaty or hungry also shows that our graduates have resilience and the character to persevere, qualities which a tutor cannot provide.
In the world of work communication is an essential skill; to be able to listen to more experienced colleagues whilst also providing input at the right time. Anyone who has debated when to stop the group for lunch during a sea kayaking journey will know how these situations can play out, and how compromise, compassion and inclusion are essential for the group to function effectively. Although seemingly trivial, the skills learned and, most importantly, practised on an OB course will lead our graduates to be more employable and therefore successful in the future.
Displaying these in challenging conditions when cold, wet, sweaty or hungry also shows that our graduates have resilience and the character to persevere, qualities which a tutor cannot provide.
I hope we never have participants in our courses because they want to strengthen their CVs. They should be with us because of the intrinsic value of their experience and they own development as a person. However, the fact that there are additional benefits does nobody any harm and we should celebrate the benefits as the opportunities for young people to develop these traits are becoming increasingly rare. Let’s hope that Outward Bound will be a required element of a successful university or job application in the coming years.