New survey results from The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) has reveal that almost two thirds of young people doing their DofE believe volunteering will best prepare them for the working world, beyond other extra-curricular activities completed as part of their DofE programmes.
Through volunteering, young people develop valuable skills and attributes such as communication, commitment, team working and self-management, all of which support them on their future paths, particularly when entering the workplace after education. By fostering these skills as part of their DofE, young people respond to increasing demand from employers for new recruits to demonstrate their ‘soft’ skills as well as academic or technical achievements.
This ‘double benefit’, for both the individual or organisation the young volunteer is supporting and the volunteer themselves, is self-perpetuating, with separate research  finding that early participation in community volunteering inspires volunteers of the future; 82 per cent of participants reported that doing their DofE has made them want to take part in volunteering beyond their Awards.
DofE participants across the UK take part in a breadth of volunteering activities, from working with the elderly, fundraising for local charities and helping out at after-school clubs, to setting up eco-clubs, campaigning on local issues and providing advice on cyber safety.
Simon Gibbs, 24, completed his Gold DofE Award as a British Gas apprentice and found that the transferable skills he gained from renovating a school classroom as part of his DofE volunteering helped him in his career. Simon said,
“Having the confidence to lead a team and take charge when it was required, and at the same time having confidence in your team and trusting their decisions, is one of the many lessons I will take away with me. The DofE has also taught me to give my utmost in any task, no matter how big or small. I have learnt that I can achieve so much when I push myself and it has given me a better outlook on life.”
Speaking about the impact of volunteering on DofE participants’ careers, Peter Westgarth, Chief Executive of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, said
“These latest survey results reflect what many participants have told us over the years; that the DofE, and the Volunteering section in particular, has supported their entry to the jobs market and subsequent career progression. Young people are growing up in a highly competitive environment and, through their DofE programmes, they are able to give back to their local communities whilst developing key work-ready attributes that employers are crying out for. The value of achieving a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is widely recognised amongst employers and we continue to be ambitious with our growth strategy to ensure that every young person who wants to do their DofE can take part, irrespective of background or circumstance.”
To achieve a DofE Award, participants must complete four sections at Bronze and Silver level and five at Gold. These include the volunteering section, a physical section, skills section and the expedition section. Gold participants also have to complete a fifth residential section.
The DofE charity’s latest survey comes ahead of the first anniversary celebrations of ‘Step Up To Serve’ later this month, a national cross-party campaign which aims to increase the number of 10 to 20 years olds volunteering in their communities to over 50 per cent by 2020. The DofE has pledged to support the campaign by growing the availability of the DofE so that even more young people can take part in volunteering.
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