In an increasingly competitive job market, it isn’t surprising that employers are looking for more than academic results. Recent research from British Gas tells us that 94% of bosses say a business can get great results from employees who have volunteered, whilst more than half of employers say they have turned down candidates because they lacked soft skills and personality. More so than ever, there is a need to stand out from the crowd and the need therefore to help young people influence their own futures by enhancing their CVs with work-ready skills that they aren’t necessarily taught in a classroom.
We should be leading from the top and encouraging the workforce of tomorrow to develop skills such as communication, team working and resilience, which come from being pushed out of your comfort zone and facing new, but exciting challenges.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) programme has personal development and community involvement at its core. The DofE enables young people to broaden their horizons and develop skills and attributes such as self-management, team working, confidence and a positive attitude to work; all of which are increasingly important to excelling at higher education and in jobs.
Doing a DofE programme gives young people the opportunity to get outdoors, help out in their community, get fit and learn new skills. Achieving a DofE Award demonstrates that a young person is willing to commit, is driven and determined. All of this lays a great path for their future, allowing them to foster a work ethic and attitude that many employers look for in prospective applicants.
As Chief Executive of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, it is both mine, and the Charity’s, mission to ensure that every UK employer understands the value of a DofE Award on an applicant’s CV, and is on the lookout for Award holders because they value the experience it represents and recognise that the young person’s efforts make them a great employee.
This year, we launched the DofE Skills for Work campaign, supported by British Gas, to raise awareness of the work-ready skills DofE Award holders have to offer. Over 100 top UK employers and senior figures from companies including British Gas, Asda, Google, RSM, Amey, ITV, Burberry, DFS and Heathrow have all stated that they recognise a DofE Award as a mark of a young person’s soft skills competence, and that they highly value Award holders in their workplace.
The calibre of businesses that have already committed to this campaign is exceptional; as employers they want to attract the right candidate and they know that DofE Award holders really do have something special.
Throughout 2016 the DofE is celebrating its Diamond Anniversary and I’m proud to say that the Charity’s influence on the positive prospects of young people, from all backgrounds and circumstances is as strong as ever. We’ve announced an ambition to reach out to two million more young people by 2020, 400,000 from disadvantaged backgrounds, so that we can give them the opportunities that a DofE Award brings. We look forward to working together to make this happen.
Peter Westgarth is Chief Executive of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.