How can volunteering impact your education and employment?
written by Anoushka Gungadin CEO, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award – Victoria
We’ve been inspired by stories about our Participants gaining a greater community appreciation, discovering their passions and recognising their potential through community service activities. However, these experiences also have the potential to build pathways towards education and employment.
We are experiencing a changing landscape where educational institutions are recognising the missing link in traditional university recruitments. Today’s society is sending a message to young people that emphasizes personal success rather than concern for others and the common good as the ATAR scores seems to be the quintessential element to getting into university.
Harvard University’s recent ‘Turning the tide’ report is paving the way for a fair admissions process to reduce achievement pressure and level the playing field. A recent panel discussion hosted by La Trobe University, ‘Rethinking University Admissions’, explored the implications of relying on technology systems and ATAR scores during recruitment. It was discussed that most university admissions are mature aged students therefore only 31 per cent are based on a students’ ATAR. The current system also alienates students who may be experiencing a social disadvantage which could negatively affect their score and ability to participate in extra-curricular activities which is also highly regarded. These students may be helping out on the family farm or caring for their siblings but won’t get the recognition they deserve and the same opportunities if nothing changes.
La Trobe University is one of few educational institutions that place a high premium on young volunteers with their Aspire program. Students who have volunteering and community engagement experience are applauded for their efforts and offered early entry into the university. Employers are also beginning to reflect these values.
As a partner of the Aspire program, The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award provides a pathway into education. All Bronze, Silver and Gold Awardees will automatically qualify for the community engagement criteria of the program.
In a recent CIPD survey in the UK, 67% of companies surveyed found that entry-level candidates with voluntary experience have more employability. The same survey also affirmed 82% agreed volunteering develops team working skills, 80% said it had a profound impact on communication whilst time management and prioritisation, problem-solving, adaptability and leadership talent were also identified as key competencies young people with volunteering experience bring to the workplace.
At the Duke of Ed, we are incredibly pleased to provide young Victorians with a program that facilitates and embraces volunteer experience. Structured as part of the Award, this service component encourages the discipline and routine of volunteering with the aim of creating a lifelong practice of community involvement and voluntary service.
It’s not often that a candidate is offered a job purely on their academic results.Understanding them as people, as team players, as problem solvers, their commitment, leadership, ethics and resilience are very important. The Duke of Ed provides young people with a framework that clearly talks to these requirements and demonstrates these skills.
In the UK a large number of employers look at Duke of Ed as one of the key extra-curricular activity undertaken by a young person. In Australia, we have followed and embarked on a similar campaign to raise employer’s awareness of the high calibre of talent of our Awardees. Across Australia, over 35,000 young people volunteer every year as part of The Award and are left with life and leadership skills that continue to open doors.
Nhu Quach, 2015 Gold Awardee
The Award gave me the confidence and necessary skills to obtain part-time employment as a pharmacy assistant. The service component of The Award developed my ability to approach customers and provide my service to them. Time management is also a key skill that the Gold Award help me develop as I completed my Award during VCE. My employers recognised the commitment required to complete The Award and it was a key standout from my resume that helped me gain employment.
The Award also helped me receive a conditional offer from La Trobe University to study a Bachelor of Applied Science/Master of Physiotherapy – my dream course! La Trobe recognised my service to the community and rewarded me with an early offer into the Aspire program. The Award helped me recognise the importance of being of service to others and that’s what I hope to continue in a career in physiotherapy.