Evidence suggests that young people who take part in social action - including volunteering, fundraising and community campaigning - develop the key skills that employers say they need, such as teamwork, communication and resilience. However, employers will often overlook this during the recruitment process in favour of traditional qualifications and work experience.

Seeking to challenge this, and to coincide with the three-year anniversary of the #iwill campaign, the CIPD hosted a business breakfast on 22 November to unpick why employers should recognise social action during the recruitment process, as well as practical ways businesses can do this. The event involved contributions from leading organisations including National Grid, Zendesk, the Association of Graduate Recruiters and Team London who shared insight into how social action is being both recognised and encouraged within their organisations.

The UK-wide #iwill campaign aims to make social action part of life for as many 10–20-year-olds as possible by the year 2020. The campaign is backed by leaders from across UK society and is led by HRH the Prince of Wales. The CIPD has been a keen supporter of the campaign since its outset and is calling on employers to champion this agenda by both recognising the skills young people gain by taking part in social action, as well as encouraging a broader climate of volunteering among their own employees. Katerina Rudiger, CIPD’s Chief Community Officer, explains the motivations behind joining the campaign:

‘We’re proud supporters of the #iwill campaign as we strongly believe in the transformative power of volunteering for everyone including young people, employees and HR professionals. Our research has shown that there is a direct link between volunteering and development, so individuals who take part are not only giving back to their local community, but they’re also gaining skills and helping themselves. As the HR profession we should be encouraging this agenda by recognising this experience during the recruitment process, as this will not only help young people, who have not had the opportunity to gain traditional work experience, into work, but also enable employers to attract the right talent from a more diverse array of backgrounds. Charities and employers also have a role to play in terms of helping young people with their post-social action reflection, so they understand the skills they have gained and how to talk about them to a prospective employer. This is something we will aim to tackle through our Steps Ahead mentoring programme, working with our CIPD volunteer mentors to help young people to understand and articulate the skills they have.’

Next steps

To find out how you can integrate social action into your recruitment processes, read the CIPD’s guide to unlocking new talent, which draws on eleven employer case studies.

If you’re an employer that already recognises social action, the CIPD would be very keen to hear how you do this via a short online survey.

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If you’re a journalist or member of the press looking for more information or to speak to one of our experts, please contact our press team. 

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About the CIPD

At the CIPD, we champion better work and working lives. We help organisations to thrive by focusing on their people, supporting economies and society for the future. We lead debate as the voice for everyone wanting a better world of work.