Changing lives in a changing world

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award has been helping 14 – 24 year olds to develop character for more than 60 years. To help ensure young people are ready for the world.

Through a tried and tested non-formal education and learning framework, the Award has been enabling young people in more than 130 countries and territories to be ready for the world for decades, through fostering skills such as confidence, resilience, problem solving and communication.

But in this rapidly-changing environment, how do young people prepare themselves for their future? For their world?

Award’s Impact

Young people make positive changes to their lives and communities through their participation in the Award. The seven areas of Award’s Impact are defined as  below:

 Improved Employability

1. Improved employability and earning potential

The young people who take part, and the adults who support the Award, are introduced to opportunities to develop key life skills. These include leadership, creativity, entrepreneurship and determination, specific technical skills, as well as relationships and self-confidence. In the long term, this leads to improvements in their employability and earning potential.

Physical and mental health

2. Improved physical health and fitness

Through the physical recreation and Adventurous Journey sections of the Award, young people become more exposed to physical activities (if they aren’t already) and so are more likely to engage in sports and physical activities in the future.

 Improved educational attainment

3. Improved mental health and emotional wellbeing

The young people who take part, and the adults who support the Award, interact with others, gain self-confidence, develop life skills, and experience a sense of purpose and satisfaction resulting in improved mental health and emotional wellbeing.


4. Increased engagement with charitable and community causes

Young people participate in various forms of voluntary and community activities for the Service section of the Award and so are more actively engaged with charitable and community causes. As a result, they are more likely to continue to have this kind of engagement throughout their lives.

Environmental impact

 5. Improved environmental impact

Young people become more aware of environmental issues and have more compassion for nature as a result of involvement in environmental and conservation projects, and/or spending more time in the natural environment as part of Award activities. As a result, they adopt behaviours that reduce their negative environmental impact and/or improve their positive environmental impact.

Increased social cohesion

6. Increased social cohesion

As a result of participating in Award activities, young people have increased respect for diversity and ability to accept differences as a result of increased social interaction with people of different ages, abilities and backgrounds. Young people also improve their social and cultural competence due to increased participation in civic life, which improves social inclusion and ‘community spirit’.

 Reduced offending

7. Reduced offending

Young people are less likely to be involved in violence and criminal activities, due to the life skills they develop through participating in the Award and the increased social inclusion they experience as a result of the relationships they develop throughout their Award experience.

Award Social Value

How do we measure the impact of character? In 2018, The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Foundation conducted a series of surveys to investigate whether young people were ready for the world and whether the world was ready to engage positively with young people and the opportunities that they present. Over 12,000 people across 150+ countries and territories were surveyed and the results showed that 2 in 3 young people and 4 in 5 adults believe classroom learning alone is not enough to prepare them for the world.

We know – and have been told by Award alumni, participants, volunteers and their communities time and time again – that participating in the Award can have a truly transformational impact on young people and the societies in which they live. However to date, the opportunity to measure that impact using anything other than anecdotal evidence has not really existed.

That is why the social value model detailed here is ground-breaking. For the first time, with the support of PwC, we can start to measure the financial and non-financial impacts that people and their communities experience, as a result of being involved in non-formal education and learning. We believe the Award framework can be a blueprint for successfully investing in human capital, specifically strengthening resilience, promoting global prosperity and helping the world’s most vulnerable. The Award does this today, just as it has done for the last 60+ years, through working in partnership with young people and their communities, supporting them in finding their own development solutions, rather than imposing solutions on them.

It has never been more important to equip young people with skills and confidence for life and to help them to realize their potential. On an individual level this can make a transformational difference to a young person’s life; on a collective basis, it has the power to bring significant change to wider society. In the coming months and years, this social value measurement activity will continue to grow and evolve to a point where we will be able to paint a global picture of the Award’s social value and impact.

We wish to thank PwC for all their support on this project to date and we very much look forward to exploring and expanding this further in the future.

You can read the full report here: Social Value PwC report – Changing lives in the changing world