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What Does Camping Have to do With Boosting Your CV?

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Chris Grayling's suggestion on Wednesday that businesses hire local school leavers over experienced foreign workers will excite debate from all corners.

But all those concerned with the welfare of young people will agree that more could be done to make them employable before they even go for their first job interview.

This month's unemployment statistics continued to make grim reading. Despite a few green shoots in the overall statistics, the number of those aged 16-24 without a job remains stubbornly above the million mark. It still remains the case that nearly a quarter of all young people in this country are out of employment, education or training.

These depressing figures are of course partially down to the state of the economy - there are fewer jobs available now than three or four years ago.

But it is also clear that many young people are lacking in the skills relevant to employers. Much prized attributes in the workplace - such as personal organisation and the ability to communicate confidently - are not as strong as they might be.

A survey of employers by the CBI last year showed that over half (55%) of all employers were dissatisfied with the self-management skills of school leavers. Turning to students, a second CBI poll showed that 70% felt that graduates could do more to prepare themselves for professional life.

For young people to compete in an increasingly difficult job market - not to mention succeed once they have found a job - they are going to have to get better at these skills.

To some, The Scout Association may not seem like an immediate contributor to this debate. What does camping after all have to do with boosting your CV?

However, on the issue of employability, we are absolutely confident of the role we can play.

This week we have published a much more uplifting set of statistics than yesterday's jobless figures- our annual membership Census. Based on returns from local Scout Groups, the project allows us to trace the growth of UK Scouting year on year.

The results are quite staggering. Put simply, they show that a record number of teenagers are becoming Scout Leaders.

The number of Explorer Scouts involved in our Young Leaders' scheme has topped ten thousand for the first time, now standing at 10,394, with a massive 15% increase on last year.

Young Leaders are Explorer Scouts aged 14-18 who have made a commitment to work as Leaders in sections of the Movement aimed at younger people: Beaver Scouts (aged 6-8), Cub Scouts (aged 8 to 10 and a half) and Scouts (aged 10 and a half to 14).

Since we launched the scheme a decade ago, numbers have risen exponentially. From 1,254 Young Leaders in the first year, numbers have risen dramatically to the current levels.

Inspiring and fantastic for local communities certainly. But what does this all have to with employability?

To answer this question, I simply ask you to picture a scene. You are put in charge of a room of boisterous eight-year-old Cub Scouts. As their Leader you are in charge of commanding their attention and confidence. You will need to ensure that the activities they are involved in are fun and rewarding. From time to time you will have to react in an unflappable manner when things don't go to plan.

Communication, organisation, flexibility. Skills that are at the heart of Scout Leadership and of course much valued in any job in Britain.

If you can run an orienteering exercise for twenty young people, then you shouldn't have that much difficulty preparing a presentation at work or talking to your boss about it.

If you are experienced in reminding those you supervise to serve their community and show respect for authority, then you will find it easier to deal with abusive customers in a shop.

It is clear that employers recognise this. A report we commissioned with consultants PACEC last year showed that almost half of all companies surveyed would be more likely to employ someone if they had been involved in Scouting.

And what's more, we would welcome young Leaders with open arms. Our latest figures show that our waiting list to join stands at over 33,000. This waiting list exists because demand for places from young people far outstrips the supply of Leaders to supervise them.

We of course keep a sense of perspective about the figures we have released this week. Scouting cannot solve all this country's problems - there after all a million young people unemployed.

But since our foundation over a hundred years ago, our Movement has always looked to be a positive influence in the lives of those growing up.

Youth unemployment is undoubtedly one of the challenges of our time - we can play our part in equipping young people to overcome it.

Not just because we want to do our best - but so they can too.