Less than one fifth (16%) of employers ask about candidates volunteering on application forms and under a third (31%) ask about it during interviews
Employers are missing out on candidates with valuable skills by failing to recognise volunteering and social action experience during the recruitment process, according to a new joint publication from the CIPD and the #iwill campaign. To address this shortfall, employers should embed social action, which can include experience of volunteering, fundraising, and campaigning, into their recruitment practices in order to allow candidates the opportunity to talk about skills they have gained outside of education and traditional work experience. This will provide employers with access to candidates with improved work and life skills, such as teamwork, communications, and leadership.
The report, ‘Unlock new talent: How can you integrate social action in recruitment?’, was published as a result of a recent survey from CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, which found that 67% of employers report that entry-level candidates who have social action experience demonstrate more employability skills. The top three skills cited by respondents were teamwork (82%), communication (80%) and understanding the local community (45%). However, despite this, less than a fifth (16%) of employers currently ask any questions about social action experience in their applications forms and only 31% ask about it during interviews.
Integrating social action into the recruitment process, the report argues, allows employers to tap into a pool of talented individuals that otherwise might be overlooked, at the same time as demonstrating to young people that social action is worthwhile in terms of helping them to develop key skills that will be of value to employers. The report provides practical tips on how social action can be embedded effectively into recruitment processes, based on best practice advice from eleven leading employers, including PwC, Barclays, British Gas and National Grid.
Peter Cheese, Chief Executive of the CIPD says: “Historically, concern with social action, including volunteering, typically fitted within organisations’ corporate social responsibility agenda, and was often seen as a bridge between companies and the community. However, we believe that there is a strong case for social action to be integrated more widely into organisations’ people development and resourcing strategies.
“A key challenge for recruiters is that candidates often fail to highlight their social action experience, unless given the opportunity to do so, as many still regard traditional work experience as being more important to employers. With the difficulties that many young people also face in terms of securing good quality work experience, it is clear that social action has a huge role to play in terms of skills development. By failing to uncover this experience during the recruitment stage, employers could be missing out on enthusiastic individuals who have precisely the types of employability skills organisations tell us they need and struggle to find.”
Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive at Step Up To Serve, says: “We know that communities and organisations benefit from having young people participate in social action projects. This report with support from businesses and employers reaffirms the notion of the ‘double benefit’ as young people that take part in social action also gain the skills they need for work and life. Encouraging businesses to embed this in recruitment will really change the face of social action participation across the UK.”
PwC, one of the organisations featured in the guide, have taken steps to ensure that candidates are given the opportunity to talk about their social action experience during the recruitment process. PwC have also recently announced plans to drop A-level requirements when recruiting candidates for their graduate programme.
Commenting, Richard Irwin, PwC head of student recruitment, said: “We want to target bright, talented people and extend our career opportunities to untapped talent in wider pockets of society. Our experience shows that whilst A Level assessment can indicate potential, for far too many students there are other factors that influence capability. Providing opportunities for candidates to demonstrate skills gained outside of academia, including social action, is one way of ensuring we are a progressive employer, which recognises that talent and potential presents itself in different ways and at different stages of people’s lives”
It is hoped that the double benefit of youth social action will encourage more young people to take part, which supports the #iwill campaign goal of increasing the number of young people participating in quality social action by 2020.
The #iwill campaign, coordinated by charity Step Up To Serve, is backed by leaders from across UK society, and led by HRH The Prince of Wales with renewed support from all of the main political parties. The campaign’s vision of every young person in the UK taking part in ‘quality’ social action will be achieved by inspiring leaders from across society to think about what they can do to help – whether that’s creating opportunities themselves, or recognising what young people have achieved through social action. Both individuals and organisations are encouraged to pledge their support for the campaign online, and show what action they will take to achieve this societal shift.