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Value to Employers
The United Learning Trust (ULT) recently published the results of a major survey, undertaken by them in association with Ratcliffe Hall Ltd, focusing on the methods major employers use for selection of new employees.
The organisations interviewed were all major employers, representing 12% of all UK employers, 3.6% of the private workforce and 47.5% of the public sector. The organisations were asked what attributes and characteristics they valued as key determinants in the selection of employees. The following were rated the highest: leadership, teamwork, self-motivation, communication, confidence, consideration and the ability to learn. From the sample 76% of the organisations emphasised how important it is for schools to enable ‘life skills’ to be developed, with 64% of the sample indicating that a specifically designed and packaged course of ‘life skills’ development activities, pursued by an applicant, might make a positive difference in selecting the applicant for interview. The sample was asked what they considered to be the most important activities undertaken at school and were asked to rate them from 1-5, with 1 being the highest:
Average Ratings in Rank order of importance:
1 The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (‘DofE’) 1.96
2 Work experience 2.00
3 Community activities 2.04
4 World Challenge 2.16
5 Young Enterprise 2.20
6 Team Sporting activities 2.28
7 Youth Awards 2.28
8 Public Speaking/Debating 2.32
9 County/National teamsports 2.36
10 Interview skills 2.44
11 School Council 2.48
12 School Prefect 2.48
13 Individual Sporting achievements 2.48
15 Financial awareness courses 2.52
16 Work Shadowing 2.60
17 Industry days 2.60
18 School Newspapers 2.64
19 Plays/drama 2.68
20 Investment Clubs 2.68
21 Outside speakers 2.76
22 School Radio 2.76
23 The House/prefect system 2.76
24 Solo musical ability 2.84
25 Orchestral participation 2.84
26 Artistic skills 2.88
27 British Schools Exploring Society 3.00
28 School trips 3.08
29 Take your daughter to work 3.28
What do employers want?
In addition to literacy and numeracy skills, the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and the CBI define the skills and attitude that make someone employable as:
- Problem solving
- Team working
Having a positive attitude is also an incredibly important attribute in every industry, from customer relations to construction. A ‘can do’ approach underpins success in working life by helping you to be resilient and adapt to changing situations around you. DofE programmes help participants to develop each and every one of these attributes and skills – although they might not realise it.
UCAS? You can…
A DofE Award, particularly at Gold level, is an enormously valuable achievement and is recognised and valued by colleges and universities worldwide.
Emphasising the importance of highlighting the activities you have undertaken as part of your DofE programme on your UCAS or college application form tells the institution that you have an ambitious and positive attitude as well as a range of interests.
Many top universities are now looking for much more than good grades and extra-curricular activities; they are interested in young people who can evidence a genuine and committed interest in their desired area of study.
Getting savvy with the sections…
When deciding which activities to choose for your sections, think outside of the DofE, to your future and what you might like to explore as a career option.
If you are interested in becoming a vet, for example, choosing to volunteer at your local kennels or studying animal care for your skill will demonstrate a genuine interest in animals and show your dedication to your chosen career path.
Identifying the skills
Below, we show you how each section of a DofE programme can be used to demonstrate employability. This will hopefully inform and impress employers, colleges and universities alike.
You may not be looking to take your steps into employment straight away. Being able to recognise and talk about the skills you’ve learnt, however, will help you with applications and interviews for college or university places, as well as any interviews for weekend or holiday work.
Communication, reliability, self-management and a sense of responsibility.
“For my Gold DofE, I volunteered with a local silver surfers group, teaching people over the age of 60 how to use the internet. I don’t have much contact with the older generation in my day to day life so I had to learn how to communicate with a new age group which required me to see things from a different perspective. Knowing that these people were turning up each week to learn from me gave me a great sense of satisfaction as well as responsibility. I enjoyed it so much that I still volunteer weekly alongside my university studies.”
- Setting a realistic but challenging goal and sticking to it
- Demonstrating self-management in being able to participate regularly and demonstrate progress.
- Showing perseverance, commitment and resilience in overcoming personal challenges
- Taking part in a team sport also demonstrates reliability as you need to turn up every week to support your team, as well as the ability to work as part of a team.
“I’d always enjoyed playing beach volleyball on holiday but I wasn’t very good so I decided to find a local indoor volleyball club which hosted beginners’ sessions for my Bronze DofE. I enjoyed the challenge of playing a fast paced sport and could recognise my improvement each week. By the time I had completed my Bronze programme I was ready to move up to intermediate level. I’d love to compete nationally eventually.”
Self-management, commitment and resilience.
“I’d been meaning to learn to drive but I found it difficult to fit lessons around my college work and social activities. Doing it for my DofE meant that I was given an extra motivation to organise my time so that I could fit in my lessons every week. I’d set myself the goal of being able to pass my theory test within three months and my practical by six months as I felt this provided me with a challenge as well as being do-able. It was difficult to stick to around exam time but having that goal in sight kept me focused and I think I’ve become more organised as a result.”
The ability to work as part of a team, make decisions under pressure, problem solve and demonstrate leadership.
“While on my expedition for my Silver DofE, we lost our way in torrential rain. One girl in my group got upset and morale within the group was low. I calmed my team mates down and, along with one of the boys, I managed to navigate our way back to camp using the skills I’d learnt in training. Eventually we saw the funny side of it and we became closer as friends as a result of working together.”
Working as part of a team, communication, self-management, confidence,
“I spent my Gold DofE residential section volunteering at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand which was something I’d always dreamed of doing. When I arrived, I was put with nine others who were to become my team mates for the week. They were from all over the world so it was interesting getting to know them and hear about their backgrounds. As a result, I’ve become a confident communicator which I feel will really help me in later life as it means I can build relationships with people quickly.”
UCAS personal statements
Loads of universities and colleges really rate having a DofE Award highly, so remember to include it on your Personal Statement. Don't believe us? Check out what others have to say on this subject...
- Apply to Uni website - many of the example personal statements mention DofE
- UCAS Website (see 'activities before higher education' section)
- Cardiff University encourages you to include your DofE Award in its guidance for those studying abroad.
- Nottingham Law School has a blog which encourages you to mention your DofE achievements