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Networking For Employability

There is an increasing awareness that employers are looking for more than just formal qualifications when recruiting new staff. What young people do and achieve outside of formal education is as important, if not more so, in shaping the attitudes and aptitudes that they bring to the world of work.


Youth Work Awards

The Awards Network captures a wide range of non-formal learning awards available to young people in Scotland. The Award Finder will help you to identify and better understand these Awards and the skills that youth work awards can demonstrate in the people that you are considering employing. Skills that they gain are particularly relevant and transferable to their employment potential. Awareness of these awards can support your recruitment decisions.

Many of the awards can also offer experiences, skills and opportunities for developing confidence and self-worth in your existing workforce too.

Why is non-formal learning important?

Regardless of where young people are on the attainment spectrum, they all need to demonstrate that ‘something extra’ to stand out from the crowd at the shortlisting stage and at the job interview.


From the Business Sector, CBI Scotland, tells us…

Business is clear – we need an education system which develops rigorous, rounded and grounded young people. This means a system which focuses as much on the development of key attitudes and attributes – such as confidence, resilience, enterprise, ambition – as on academic progression and attainment.

– Delivering Excellence- a new approach for Schools in Scotland, 2015, CBI Scotland

From the Education Sector, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education found through an Aspect Review of youth awards that:


Young people gain a wide range of skills such as confidence, interpersonal, team working, leadership and employability through participation in youth awards.

Youth awards support young people in their learning and to progress to further and higher education, training and employment on leaving school.

– A Review of Youth Awards in Scotland, 2015, HMIe Education Scotland


Any job requires a set of technical skills, but employees also need a range of ‘soft skills’. These are the skills that enable people to work together effectively. Recognising the breadth of opportunities offered by youth work awards will help employers better understand the way in which young people’s extra-curricular activities build up their ‘soft skills’, and make them more effective employees in the workplace.


What can you do?

  • Include questions in recruitment application forms that ask about youth awards.
  • Use the Awards Network website to better understand the awards that are presented during recruitment.
  • Develop the skills and attributes of the existing young workforce through Awards Network awards.
  • Register your organisation as Awards Aware.

Related Links:

Amazing Things

A Directory of Youth Awards in Scotland - the 5th edition, published in Sept. 2021, contains details of 75 award programmes from 29 Awards Network member organisations

Youth Work Skills Framework

A tool to help young people identify and articulate the skills they have developed and applied through youth work and their journey to youth awards achievement.

Youth Work and Employability 

A Paper outlining the ways in which youth work, including youth awards, helps young people develop employability skills and prepares them for the world of work (YouthLink Scotland, 2020)

DofE - Employers believe in you

The Duke of Edinburgh's Award asked UK employers to endorse the skills and attributes such as resilience, commitment, self-motivation and team working that young people with a DofE Award bring to the workplace.

Guiding for Employers

An example from Girlguiding Scotland of the transferable 'employability' skills that members develop through their Guiding activities

DYW - Developing the Young Workforce

Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) is the Scottish Government’s Youth Employment strategy to better prepare young people for the world of work.

Developing the Young Workforce: Career Education Standard (3-18)

The standard recognises the journeys children and young people make as they learn about the world of work from the early years to the senior phase. See in particular the ‘I can’ statements in Appendix A.

The Young Person's Guarantee

The Young Person's Guarantee is a commitment to bring together employers, partners and young people. It aims to connect every 16 to 24 year old in Scotland to an opportunity. This could be a job, apprenticeship, further or higher education, training or volunteering. 

Interactive Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework

Understand qualification levels, where awards and qualifications sit and how they equate

SCQF Database

This database can help you find those qualifications and learning programmes that are on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF)

Awards Aware

Your organisation can demonstrate the value it attaches to youth work awards and its understanding of the opportunities they provide to young people by signing up to be “Awards Aware”.

An Awards Aware body understands the range of youth work awards available; endorses youth work awards as evidence of learning and achievement; values the skills developed through youth work awards; and recognises recipients of youth work awards as successful learners offering strong transferrable skills.


Developing leadership skills with the RED Programme

Jake has volunteered with the British Red Cross for just over 18 months. Jake is from Elgin and is part of the local Emergency Response team. Whilst volunteering for the British Red Cross Jake has helped to deliver food parcels and care packages as part of the winter weather response, sometimes driving up to 100 miles in a shift to deliver packages to a small number of people.

Jake was also deployed to assist when the town of Keith found itself without gas in early 2021. With the temperature falling and large numbers of households needing assistance Jake worked helping the community turn off gas supplies for safety, offering advice and practical support. 

Jake has now completed all of the training required to become an Operational Team Leader and is waiting for the opportunity to put his skills to the test! The RED programmes skills self-assessment has helped Jake to identify the skills he has gained whilst volunteering. The clear breakdown of what skills build into each competency was a real help.

The RED programme is a three tier accreditation scheme, designed with the help of young volunteers to encourage, retain and develop skills in young volunteers. Initially a certificate to Recognise the achievement of volunteering the scheme moves on to Empower young volunteers by assisting them to identify and measure competencies, skills and knowledge they have gained through volunteering. The final stage is designed to Develop young volunteers ethical leadership skills. The scheme is open to all young volunteers within the organisation.

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An employers view on DYW, youth awards and skills for work

Sandy Begbie, Global Integration Director at Standard Life Aberdeen plc and Chair of DYW Edinburgh, East Lothian and Midlothian, outlines why it is important for employers to recognise and value the employability skills developed through youth award programmes.

Read More