Are good grades enough?

A new report from The Duke of Edinburgh’™s Award highlights that 93% of young people worry they won’t have the right skills to secure a job

The Duke of Edinburgh Award (DofE) research released this week reveals that an overwhelming 93% of the DofE participants surveyed who are expecting exam results this summer, reported feeling under pressure to demonstrate not just their academic achievements to potential employers, but also that they will be an ‘all-rounder’ in the workplace. They believe that as well as academic performance, employers now actively look for evidence of soft skills, such as commitment, team working and self-management, and are feeling under pressure to be able to demonstrate these skills as a result. 

With the job market for entry level positions remaining highly competitive, young people are looking for ways to differentiate themselves from other candidates. Consequently perhaps, 83% believed that completing their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award would make it easier for them to get a job. The majority of DofE participants surveyed felt that they would be able to describe to an employer how the skills they’ve gained will make them a great employee. Notably, when asked to apply their DofE experience to an interview setting, respondents said they had gained skills in self-management, problem solving, team working, communication, as well as having developed a positive approach to work. 

This view is echoed by Bronze, Silver and Gold Award holder, Emmaline O’Toole, who said: “I truly believe that my DofE Awards helped me gain a place at college and secure my current job where I prepare food in a local restaurant. Both my tutor and boss were impressed when they saw the DofE on my applications, with my boss only asking me about my Awards during my interview. The DofE is well respected and talking about your experience makes you more memorable to your interviewer.” 

The DofE participants have confidence that their experience will improve their employability prospects and this is supported by leading business figures.   

Speaking about how a DofE Award is recognised in business, Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, said: “The DofE Award is recognised by many employers who understand the huge amount of work that individuals put in to achieving it. Employers tell us that there are certain skills they look for when recruiting, such as team working and resilience, both of which individuals demonstrate by completing the DofE Award. It can help young candidates stand out to potential employers, particularly when applying for entry level positions.” 

Mel Ewell, chief executive of Amey, one of the UK’s leading public and regulated services providers and a Strategic Partner of the DofE, said:“We are extremely proud to be working with the DofE to make a real difference to the lives and prospects of young people right across the country. The skills young people develop through the DofE are the exact attributes we look for and value as an employer. We are also committed to investing in our employees and recognise the additional value that taking part in the DofE brings. We therefore offer all our apprentices the opportunity to complete their Gold Award as part of their ongoing training and development. Furthermore, as an organisation, Amey believes so strongly in the DofE that the company guarantees an interview to anyone with a Gold Award on their CV who meets 70% of the skills needed for the role.” 

To complete a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, young people volunteer in their communities, learn a skill, get fit and plan and undertake an expedition, fulfilling over six to 18 months of challenging activity. Widely acknowledged as the world’s leading achievement award for young people, the benefits of the DofE continue to be felt by more and more young people each year. New starters are up by 10% in the last year and the number of awards achieved totalled 108,288 last year, an increase of nine per cent on the previous year.

Peter Westgarth, chief executive of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, concluded: “I am delighted that the value of a DofE Award is recognised by employers and that young award holders understand the power of their DofE Award in conveying the hard work they have put in. DofE Award achievers are very special people. They have demonstrated exceptional commitment to their communities and to their own development. I’m not surprised employers want them on their team. The DofE Charity is growing to meet the unprecedented demand from young people who want to be able to show that they too can demonstrate that they are worthy of a DofE Award and the respect it brings.”


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