Claire Shea-Simonds, Further Education UK Development Manager shares her thoughts on The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award recent skills summit ‘Youth Without Limits Live: Beyond the CV’.
At the DofE we know that moving from full-time education into work is one of the biggest transitions in a young person’s life but it is clear that many do not feel prepared. Too often careers advice is focused on applying for jobs and interviews, rather than what having a job really entails.
That is why we were thrilled to host our first ever skills summit, ‘Youth Without Limits Live: Beyond the CV’, earlier in November at Google’s HQ in London. Bringing together young people, employers and personal development experts we wanted to provide a platform to help young people understand how to talk about their strengths and showcase the skills they learnt doing their DofE in the workplace.
On the day, 200 young people from across the UK came together for a whole day of inspirational talks, motivational speeches and thought-provoking discussions.
A talk from DofE Gold Award holder and engineer Mohammed Taher
Hosted by two of our Youth Ambassadors, Anya and Eoin, the day opened with a talk from DofE Gold Award holder and engineer Mohammed Taher, a systems specialist for the Aerodrome at Heathrow Airport. Mohammed shared his unique perspective on why completing a DofE is about so much more than just a line on a CV. Instead, it shows employers that you have been somewhere, that you were out of your comfort zone and you tried to grow.
As Mohammed explains: “The DofE is about building your character, making you more than who you currently are. When an employer sees a Duke of Edinburgh Award, whether it’s Bronze, Silver or Gold, they know that you’ve put yourself in a position where you’ve done something difficult and you didn’t do it alone, you did it as part of a team. They know that if they offer you the job and when you get into that workplace that when the going gets tough and you see your colleagues struggling around you, there’s a chance you’ll be able to pull them up.”
Ajaz Ahmed, founder of AKQA
Next up was Ajaz Ahmed who founded AKQA, a design, creative and technology services company which is today recognised as a pioneer and innovator. Ajaz told his very special story about how he became the entrepreneur he is, the importance of developing your skills and why working for organisations that build people up instead of knocking them down is so important. As he explained: “Choose a job where you feel energised and intrigued and where you can learn the most, rather than make the most.”
The Apprentice winner, Tim Campbell MBE on solving problems
The audience was enthralled as The Apprentice winner and businessman Tim Campbell MBE delivered the keynote speech where he shared personal stories about his childhood, how he had gone from working hard to working smart and some of the lessons he had learnt in his career to date. He gave his top tips for success including the importance of developing and crystalising your personal brand and why finding your purpose is as important as finding your passion.
Tim also explained the power of customer service and why it is so critical that people entering the workplace need to know how to solve problems: “In the world of work that you’re going into, the biggest thing that you’re going to be rewarded for is becoming a problem solver. If you can add value by solving problems you’ll never be out of work.”
During the day, young people also participated in several interactive workshops. One of them, delivered by BodyTalk UK, focused on showing young people how to build their personal story, better captivate their audience and build greater trust and rapport in a variety of situations. The audience left that session with plenty of tips and ways to build their brand and feel more confident in themselves.
Google also presented two of their Digital Garage sessions to help young people understand the job market and offer top tips for finding jobs online, as well as how to understand and evaluate their digital footprint and manage their online presence going forward. The Wellbeing Project’s ‘Resilience Espresso’ workshop taught our audience the importance of knowing the signs of overworking and how to work smarter, not harder.
Hearing from four inspiring DofE alumni
Young people also heard from four inspiring DofE alumni working in the civil service, aviation, military and technology sectors – Anoushé Husain from the Civil Service, Mohammed Taher a systems specialist at Heathrow, Major David Love who heads up the Centre for Army Leadership in the British Army and Doyin Sonibare who works for a software sales company.
They shared how the DofE has shaped their careers and helped unlock the skills they needed to thrive in the workplace. DofE alumni Anoushé explained: “I was picked because I had DofE on my CV, because they knew I could time keep, they knew I could multitask, they knew I could teach, they knew I could lead, they knew I could work in a team.” Her advice to young people about the DofE was very clear: “Definitely shout about the fact that you’re doing it and what you’re good at through it.”
Leon Marseglia, COO of the Youth Group
The final session of the day was led by the inspirational Leon Marseglia, COO of the Youth Group, one of the UK’s largest youth communities. During his session Leon reassured young people they don’t need to have all the answers.
He advised them to remember that: “Your environment is your education – surround yourself with people that are one or two steps ahead of you. Be curious, ask lots of different questions and really understand what you can do to grow as an individual.” Leon also called on businesses to “look at the will, not the skill” and understand the added value that young people can bring to a workplace. One example he gave is that young people are digital natives and can help businesses navigate the digital transformations that many are facing at the moment.
As a final parting thought, Leon shared two key takeaways. The first was that young people should not just find their passion, but more importantly follow with passion, as that will help them learn more and progress within their career. He then shared that his biggest influences have been pain, hurt and failure as they have helped him grow and develop into the person he is today. As he concluded: “Pain + reflection = progression”.
CEO Ruth Marvel on why this event is so important
Closing the day our CEO Ruth Marvel explained why it was so important for the DofE to host this event: “The DofE is not just something to write on your CV, it’s a whole range of skills and aptitudes that are going to stand you in good stead for later life and the world of work. We wanted to hold this event to help young people with the know-how, skills and confidence they need to both successfully transition into employment and most importantly, to thrive at work.
Our hope is that we will be hosting many more of these events across the UK in the future to support as many young people as they navigate the daunting period of moving from education into employment and understand how their DofE skills can be a real asset in the workplace.”
By Claire Shea-Simonds, Further Education UK Development Manager
As a charity, DofE helps young people aged 14-24 build a life-long belief in themselves – supporting them to take on their own challenges, follow their passions and discover talents they never knew they had. In 2021/22, a record-breaking 321,000 young people started their Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Learn more at www.dofe.org