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Equipping young people for life and work


Wherever I travel around the world, I find myself having the same conversation with business leaders. “There’s something wrong with the education system,” they tell me. “Young people are leaving school with great academic qualifications, but they’re just not ready for the workplace. They don’t understand how to work in teams, the importance of punctuality, the need to keep going when life gets tough. They give up too easily.”

Those business leaders are right. A first class academic education is essential, but it’s only half the story of what a young person needs to equip themselves for life. Not only do they need a good formal education, they need a great non-formal education too. Non-formal education is what goes on outside the classroom – sport and physical recreation, community service, adventurous activity and the development of new skills. Non-formal education helps young people to develop the qualities of perseverance, grit, curiosity, optimism and self-control. Economists might describe these qualities as non-cognitive. Psychologists might call them ‘personality traits’. To the rest of us, they’re just known as ‘character’ and the development of character is the business of The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. We help equip young people for work and life.

Award holders at work

Today we launched Award holders at work, a global campaign to highlight the valuable skills and behaviours young people develop through participation in the Award.  

We are focusing on employability for our very first campaign as we know youth employment (or the lack of it) is an issue in many countries where the Award operates. The Award provides young people with confidence, resilience and skills in areas such as communication, problem solving and leadership – exactly what employers look for when distinguishing candidates.


Award holders at work aims to help young people understand that the Award provides them with the skills employers are seeking and to know how to emphasise this within their CV/LinkedIn profile and during interviews. The campaign also encourages more employers to look out for the Award during their recruitment process.


Look out for Award holders

So, as an employer, when you are looking for young people with great academic achievements and character, look for someone who has achieved their Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. And help us to grow by telling your network of business colleagues that you look out for the Award on young people’s résumés – and that they should do so too.

Find out more about our Award holders at work campaign and how you can endorse the Award.


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