More than 100 young people from disadvantaged backgrounds took part in The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE) during 2016/17 – a 10 per cent increase on the previous year.
The DofE together with Crawley-based Amey, which delivers highways and rail design services, has supported West Sussex County Council to achieve this increase.
The County Council is the only Local Authority in the South East continuing to fully resource support to schools.
The increase in young people from disadvantaged backgrounds taking part in the scheme has come alongside a strategic refocus of the DofE in West Sussex.
Amey’s support has enabled recruitment of a local DofE Officer to support delivery within schools that are new to the DofE. Thomas Bennett Community College is the first to take up this offer of support.
The hardest to reach young people will be also be targeted through the County Council’s children and family services.
The DofE can have a profound effect on young people, giving them opportunities to develop crucial skills and experiences to prepare them for work and life. Stephen Woodburn, 21, a care leaver who is undertaking his Duke of Edinburgh Award in West Sussex, said: “The DofE has given me a chance to see places I have never been before. The expedition skills were really great fun, and doing the DofE has certainly given me more confidence.”
Amey Chief Executive, Andy Milner, said: “Together with DofE, we’re supporting communities by providing young people from disadvantaged backgrounds with the skills and experience that many employers look for, which in turn can help deliver real societal change.
“Through our long-standing partnership we’re helping to create a pipeline of talent and reduce the growing skills gap by developing our apprentices and increasing the employability prospects of young people locally. Through the DofE young people step outside of their comfort zones and develop skills that can be life changing.”
Amey also offers its apprentices the opportunity to achieve their Gold DofE Award through the DofE’s Business programme. Nearly 500 Amey apprentices have started their Gold DofE since Amey integrated the DofE into its apprenticeship scheme in 2010. The skills Amey apprentices develop through DofE Business enhance their ability to progress their careers.
Stephen Hillier, County Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Whilst taking part in the DofE programme, young people develop skills like teamwork, communication and problem solving, as well as enhancing social and community cohesion.
“Achieving a DofE Award can be a game-changer, giving young people skills for life and work, putting them on a path to success and upskilling local communities. It is something we fully support and we would encourage all young people to take part. I am extremely proud that West Sussex is making access to this flagship scheme even easier for our less fortunate young people and grateful to Amey for their support.”