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Networking For Employability

What can you do?

  • Become Awards Aware to learn more about the range of awards and their benefits to individuals.
  • Use the Awards Finder to explore the different awards.
  • 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.
  • Sign up trainees and younger workforce members to undertake awards as part of their on-boarding and in-work training.
  • Develop the skills and attributes of the existing young workforce through Awards Network awards.
  • Register your organisation as Awards Aware.

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.

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 transferable skills with the RED Programme

The best piece of advice Cyrus, a 24 year old Emergency Response volunteer from Dundee, received was from a retired firefighter who was a fellow volunteer: “In an emergency never run, always walk.”

Cyrus has volunteered with the organisation for nearly a decade, starting in Event First Aid in 2021 with a break for studying at university, however he returned to the organisation to help put his skills in to practice. Cyrus is now an operational team leader helping to deploy teams to assist in emergencies. As well as ensuring his team is well-trained, he also makes sure the kit and vehicles are maintained and ready for deployment. During the pandemic Cyrus, and his team, were kept busy responding to the appalling winter weather assisting nurses to visit homes for administer Covid-19 vaccinations and transporting community careers to their workplaces. 

Volunteering for the British Red Cross has helped Cyrus gain amazing skills that helped in his application to medical school as well as building situational awareness, communication skills and presentation skills. The RED programme helped Cyrus to identify the transferable skills he gained whilst volunteering which can be applied in his medical career.

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.

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