Is volunteering the answer to improving soft skills?

by L&D31 Aug 2016
British Gas encourages all of their employees to take two days paid volunteering leave.
 
This involves workers helping out in their local community by sharing their time and their "expert skills". 
 
“All of our engineering apprentices achieve their Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award or complete the British Gas Award Program, during which they spend time volunteering in their community, said Claire Miles, Managing Director for Customer Operations at British Gas.

“We find that this helps our employees to relate better to our customers and improve service. 

“There’s a real opportunity for young people to boost their chances of employment through volunteering, which is a great indicator of soft skills.”
 
Miles’ comments come amid new research from British Gas which found more than half of bosses surveyed look for volunteering experience as evidence of soft skills.
 
Moreover, employers are also checking the internet to get ideas about a candidate’s social skills. 
 
The survey also found that 34% of employers said they look at a candidate’s social media profile to gauge their personality before meeting them in person.
 
Even though soft skills and volunteering were found to be important priorities for employers, four in ten young people have never volunteered, and almost a quarter do not believe that it will help them get a job.
 
Pippa Morgan, Head of Education and Skills at the CBI, said the value that individuals with strong soft skills bring to a business is “indisputable”.
 
“As this research and our own indicates: business leaders are very clear about wanting to hire people with the right behaviours and attitude,” said Morgan.
 
“It’s fantastic to see companies like British Gas highlighting the need for young adults to have soft skills, and should emphasise to all those starting out in their careers that companies are looking for more than just qualifications.”

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