Championing youth skills worldwide

Published: 15 Jul 2015

Award participants learning new skills in the laboratory.

Today is the first World Youth Skills Day, a day designated by the United Nations (UN) to generate greater awareness of the importance of vocational education and training and the development of other skills relevant to local and global economies.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation (the Foundation) supports the UN in its work to promote the benefits of non-formal education and training. Statistics show that 40% of the world’s unemployed are young people[1], yet nearly 40% of employers say a lack of skills is the main reason for their entry-level vacancies[2]. The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award equips young people for life and work, and is needed more than ever to bridge the gap between formal education and employment. Through doing the Award and developing important skills like communication, teamworking and leadership, young people can improve their readiness for work.

Award holders at work

Silver Award holder Aubrey Jones from the USAOne of these young people is Aubrey Jones, who was introduced to the Award at Lincoln Hall, a secondary school for boys in New York State for who have become involved in the court system. Having discovered his talents for nursing through the Award, Aubrey went on to complete his certificate in nursing and now works as a nursing assistant at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York.

“I feel like I achieved so much as an Award participant: it just pushes me to achieve more. I learned to be on time for my activities because people are counting on me. I learned people skills. I learned how to get along with different people and how to talk to people that I never had the opportunity to meet or talk to where I live in Brooklyn. All of these skills helped me to be better able to get a job and to do well in an interview.”

You can read more stories from young people across the globe who have developed practical skills useful for further education and employment in our Employment stories.

Focus on employment

Earlier this year, we launched a campaign to highlight the practical skills, behaviours and attitudes young people develop through the Award that are valued by employers globally. 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.

Speaking about the campaign and World Youth Skills Day, John May, Secretary General of the Foundation said: “We are focusing on employability as we know youth unemployment 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.

“We also support the UN and other organisations in drawing attention to the need to provide greater access to programmes like the Award in helping young people overcome barriers to education and employment. We also seek to recognise and champion the valuable contribution young people can and do make to society.”

Global mark of achievement

The campaign also encourages more employers to look out for the Award during their recruitment process. Speaking about the value of the Award in providing young people with vital skills for employment, Michael Smith, Partner at Baker & McKenzie LLP says: “Whenever I see The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award on a young person’s CV, I know I’ll have something interesting to talk to them about at their interview.”

Dev Sanyal, Executive Vice President and Group Chief of Staff, BP, agrees and says young people who have taken part in the Award are highly valued by the company.

“The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is a global mark of achievement. Wherever in the world young people may have participated, I know that they will have learned first-hand about teamworking, respect, excellence and courage – values that BP holds dear.”

Access to the Award

The Award is available in over 140 countries and territories worldwide. Award holders at work is the Award’s first campaign co-ordinated by the Foundation and delivered in country by Award Operators around the world.

The Award is available to all 14-24-year-olds, regardless of their background. It is the Foundation’s vision that by 2026, every young person will have the opportunity to participate.

Award holders at work runs until December 2015. Find out how you can take part in the campaign and other activities to mark the first World Youth Skills Day. You can also follow the conversation on Twitter using #WYSK2015 

Further information:

[1] Source:

[2] McKinsey Center for Government, 2012