Key employment skills linked to volunteering


Young job applicants who have voluntary experience through schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s, are more likely to demonstrate the employability skills that businesses are after, a poll has suggested.

A survey of 850 UK HR professionals by the CIPD found that the key skills employers are looking for are communication, teamwork, and confidence. Further down the list came time-management, business awareness and problem-solving.

Almost 70 per cent of the respondents said that entry-level job candidates who have voluntary experience demonstrated more of these employability skills.

However, despite this admission, only a minority of employers said they actively looked for specific voluntary schemes or experiences on applicants’ CVs.

Of those who do, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award came top in the list of sought-after initiatives, with 27 per cent of the HR professionals saying that they looked specifically for this.

Also high on the list of desirable volunteering experience were the Prince’s Trust (22 per cent), the Scout Association (18 per cent), Girlguiding (17 per cent), and the government’s National Citizen Service (eight per cent).

When asked what skills these programmes helped to develop, 82 per cent said team-working and 80 per cent communication skills. Other skills included time-management or prioritisation (41 per cent), problem-solving (39 per cent), and leadership skills (33 per cent).

Ultimately, however, the CIPD’s research found that 63 per cent of the HR professionals use formal qualifications and academic achievement to filter candidates during the first stage of recruitment for entry-level roles. 

Experience also plays a big role, with companies filtering applications using the “level and relevance” of work experience, the study found.

In light of the findings, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is calling for more employers to recognise and value the skills and attributes that candidates with this type of experience bring to the workplace.

More than 300,000 young people are currently taking part in Duke of Edinburgh’s programmes in the UK and last year 108,288 achieved a Bronze, Silver or Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.

Peter Westgarth, chief executive of the Duke of Edinburgh’s, said: “While we’re hugely encouraged that a significant number of UK employers recognise the important employability skills and attributes Duke of Edinburgh’s Award achievers have demonstrated, we still have work to do to inform employers about the amazing achievements an Award represents. 

“We want every UK employer to understand the value of a Duke of Edinburgh’s Award on an applicant’s CV and make the commitment to look out for young recruits with an award because they value the experience they have gained and recognise that their efforts make them great employees.”

The CIPD research, Learning to Work, can be downloaded at

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Skills for Business campaign includes a careers website to help participants to “articulate the transferable skills they’ve gained”. Visit

CAPTION: Skilling up: Employers recognise the skills people learn while on schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, but still prioritise academic qualifications when selecting candidates (Photos: Duke of Edinburgh’s Award)


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