Special Needs participants on the Duke of Edinburgh's Award who take part through the Hounslow Youth Centre, London play rugby in a nearby park, learn makaton, how to cook on a trangia stove and fill in their eDofE, 22nd April 2015

Photography by Fergus Burnett

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DofE comes out top in CIPD survey as most recognised volunteering programme

A DofE Award gives young applicants the edge, but there’s work to be done to motivate more employers to look out for and value youth development programmes as part of the recruitment process.   

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) has been chosen by UK HR professionals in a CIPD survey as the most recognised programme a candidate can reference during the recruitment process to demonstrate their volunteering experience. Over a quarter of UK companies look for a DofE Award in applications when they recruit, above other recognition programmes.

Evidence of volunteering is seen as a valuable asset for young people entering the workplace. In the same survey, 67% of UK companies surveyed believed entry-level candidates with voluntary experience have more employability skills to offer than those who don’t; 82% said volunteering develops team working skills, 80% said communication, whilst time management and prioritisation, problem-solving, adaptability and leadership talent were also identified as key competencies young people with volunteering experience bring to the workplace.

However, whilst the survey results show that employers understand that volunteering fosters work-ready skills, they also reveal that the majority of employers still don’t actively look for this experience when receiving applications, choosing candidates for interview or asking relevant questions.

The DofE is therefore calling for more employers to recognise and value the skills and attributes young candidates with a DofE Award bring to the workplace as part of its DofE Skills for Business campaign.

A DofE Award helps cultivate a well-rounded individual with a broad range of strengths, not just through volunteering experience, but also through learning a new skill, improving fitness, planning and undertaking a wild-country expedition and going on a residential.

Leading companies including Amey, British Gas, DFS, and Halfords have already signed up to say that DofE Award holders have the skills for their business at

Ian Peters, Managing Director, British Gas, said: “British Gas has been supporting the DofE for nearly 10 years because we believe it can change young people’s lives. In doing the DofE they develop the skills we look for in our future employees – like initiative, and a determination to learn and progress in their careers. Customer service is at the heart of our business, so during our interview process we look for well-rounded young people who can relate to our customers and their lives. I’m committed to supporting young people as they develop the skills to get to interview, and I’d encourage employers to recognise the valuable skills and attributes of DofE Award holders.”

More employers are encouraged to sign up at Their support will be seen by DofE Award holders, helping them to identify companies and organisations that welcome their experience and giving them the confidence that their months and years of hard work and commitment will give them the edge when applying for jobs.

Peter Westgarth, Chief Executive of The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, commented: “Whilst we’re hugely encouraged that a significant number of UK employers recognise the important employability skills and attributes DofE Award achievers have demonstrated, we still have work to do to inform employers about the amazing achievements a DofE Award represents. We want every UK employer to understand the value of a DofE Award on an applicant’s CV and make the commitment to look out for young recruits with a DofE Award because they value the experience they have gained and recognise that their efforts make them great employees.”

In tandem with the DofE Skills for Business campaign, the DofE has launched the LifeZone, a careers website to support young participants and Award achievers to articulate the transferable skills they’ve gained as part of their DofE and inspire them for the future. For a preview, visit

Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD, concluded: “More than a quarter of employers report that they look for a DofE Award when they recruit. It’s great that these employers recognise the value of a programme that clearly gives those who participate a broad range of opportunities to develop and strengthen their skills, many of which can be of value in the workplace. The volunteering element to a DofE Award is particularly strong, and our members tell us that candidates who have participated in volunteering often demonstrate greater team working and communication skills. We support the DofE’s call for more employers to come on board and recognise that DofE Award holders have the skills for their business.”

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