Last week His Royal Highness Prince Edward, the Duke of Edinburgh, was in Australia to support one of his most important causes: the Duke of Edinburgh International Award (Duke of Ed). Chamber Member KPMG was on the front foot demonstrating how businesses can be part of the Duke of Ed and make a huge difference to young peoples’ lives and careers.
The Duke of Ed Office in Australia focusses on helping young people thrive. It works with schools, organisations, governments, and businesses, to support Australia's young people meet new challenges, gain important life skills, and realise their potential.
For businesses like KPMG, that means looking favourably on employees who have achieved their Duke of Ed award because of the valuable life skills these candidates have attained.
Doug Ferguson, KPMG’s NSW Chairman and Head of Asia Markets, sees this as a win-win for the firm. “We hire 800 new graduates every year and not only are we looking for people who have excellent marks out of university, we are looking for all rounded people who have the ability to lead, communicate, and also show that they are committed to servicing community — that is what the Duke of Edinburgh has demonstrated to us,” he told the Chamber.
Last Wednesday, KPMG, as a leading Duke of Ed employer, hosted a lunch for His Royal Highness in Sydney.
“In many ways it was incredibly surreal, but he puts everybody at ease,” said Doug Ferguson. “I found it an incredible privilege for KPMG to host Prince Edward, “You realise how similar we can be when we have a shared interest in something as important as the Duke of Edinburgh.”
Mr Ferguson said that KPMG welcomes the broader skill set. “What sets our culture apart is the quality of interface between our professionals and our clients. And that comes through the non-formal education programme: leadership communication, networking skills, confidence, self-assuredness, an ability to rise above challenges and be resilient,” he said.
The Duke of Edinburgh Award programme is open to every Australian between the ages of 14 and 24. It requires real effort and commitment on behalf of the young person who is supported to build resourcefulness and life skills outside the classroom, be it physically, on an adventure, through community service or honing other skills. It’s about building resilience, exploring opportunities, and being recognised in preparation for life and work in a rapidly changing world.
Employers recognising the value of the Duke of Ed when recruiting employees have actually boosted its value to young people. The aim of the KPMG lunch was to draw attention to the growing importance of non-formal education and employment trends in Australia.
Take Zahra Al Hilaly, a Duke of Ed recipient and first-generation Australian who gave a vote of thanks to the Duke of Edinburgh at the KPMG lunch. “We were all just blown away by how articulate and how commanding she was and I think many of us will be thinking that she is one to watch - I would imagine the Duke of Edinburgh has given her enormous growth opportunities as well,” said Mr Ferguson.
“And another young fella, Jack Milne in the roundtable we put on earlier in the day had a disability and the Duke of Edinburgh allowed him to study and work in different countries. Now he is working for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. These young people are just incredible,” he said.
There are now 800,000 graduates of the Duke of Ed in Australia and growing at 10% a year. There is also an army of around 65,000 volunteers.
Mr Ferguson encouraged businesses both large and small to support the programme. “If you were looking to hire people and you have a bet on the one of two people that you can hire, you want to look at those sort of qualities that the Duke of Edinburgh give you, a Gold Duke of Edinburgh award gives you a standard that you can trust,” he said.
To learn more about the Duke of Ed, please see https://dukeofed.com.au/