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Business Courses Boost Productivity And Leadership

Press release
Thursday, 26 June 2014

Outward Bound Business Courses Boost Productivity And Leadership, Research Reveals

Boosted productivity, improved leadership skill and increased organisational loyalty are attributes found in trade apprentices who have participated in Outward Bound courses, reveals research by The Skills Organisation [i].

The research, commissioned by BETA – an alliance of training organisations for the built environment industry - observed behaviours of apprentices following their return to the workplace after attending Outward Bound. Surveys and interviews were undertaken with apprentices and employers, including participants from up to six years ago.

The research showed that apprentices returned better able to supervise teams, having developed a greater openness, maturity and an ability to manage conflict and diverse opinion more effectively. They were also more comfortable in situations where they may have previously struggled such as talking to new or difficult people.

Employers observed apprentices emerging from the programme with better goal setting skills, a willingness to take on responsibility and showing an increased tenacity and maturity.

“The research shows that apprentices experienced genuine positive changes from the courses. Employers were clear that these changes led to organisational benefits. While anecdotally we knew this to be the case, this research is evidence to back it up,” says Shane Wratt, Business Course Manager at Outward Bound.

Some of the survey comments from unnamed employers include:

“When he came back from Outward Bound with the skills that they taught him there, he was able to step into a Foreman role. He got a lot out of Outward Bound and came back a different person. The course brought the best out of him.”

“In the beginning you almost had to double check everything he did. Now he’s actually training others and has set a standard of what needs to be done. It’s great having that guy out there, he actually takes the workload off you because he is taking on more of a leadership role.”

“You can have all the pieces of paper but your core being hasn’t actually improved. Some of our guys that have been on the course were on it three years ago have changed and it’s been ongoing. It’s not like it lasted a year, their whole outlook on life has changed.”

The Skills Organisation’s chief executive Garry Fissenden commented, “The top apprentices among our 11 trades develop incredible amounts of growth during the Outward Bound courses we offer them. We’re delighted that this experience leads to improved workplace performance and personal development. The positives have a flow-on effect to their respective regions and to New Zealand as a whole. We are incredibly proud to play our part in that,” says Garry.

Leading New Zealand businesses including Mainfreight, Fisher and Paykel, Hyundai, Coca Cola, The Warehouse and local and national Government use Outward Bound’s business programmes to develop their leaders.

Designed for employers to get the most out of their people, Outward Bound Business courses challenge employees to step up in their role through indoor theory sessions, expert facilitation and outdoor challenges at Outward Bound’s stunning location in the Marlborough Sound.


[1] BETA Outward Bound. An analysis of the impact of Outward Bound on apprentices. Authors; Martin Draper and Justin Kimberley 2014. Research commissioned by BETA and part funded by Ako Aotearoa.

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