DWF set up 5 STAR Futures to try and stop social background predicting a young person’s success. It has worked with 31 schools to increase students’ self-confidence and help prepare them for work, while engaging a quarter of its employees in volunteering activities.
- Self-confidence among 95% of the young people involved in the programme increased, to help them develop employability skills and become more ready for work.
- The programme built a strong and positive link between school and the world of work, with 80% of young people saying they had increased their knowledge of workplace skills.
- 596 employees were involved in delivering a variety of activities to help young people discover more about work, including workshops, mock interviews and mentoring.
- Employee engagement has increased with 75% saying they feel community involvement improves morale and 83% saying they are proud that DWF invests in the community.
- Positive PR for the business by celebrating the school partnerships externally.
- Employee volunteering at DWF has increased, helping the firm towards its target of 30% of people who volunteer.
Young people from low income backgrounds are twice as likely to end up not in employment, education or training (NEET) when they leave school. The professions, including law, are disproportionately comprised of people from narrow social groups. At the same time, 54% of employers struggle to fill vacancies and it is vital to give young people opportunities to gain the skills employers need.
Reaching out to schools
5 STAR Futures is focused on working with young people aged between 9 and 19 from low income families. Through the programme, DWF has worked with 31 schools across the UK, with some partnerships in their third or fourth years.
Activities led by DWF employees have included workshops, mentoring and Dragon’s Den-style events. These have helped young people develop a strong sense of self-efficacy - their judgement of their capability to perform a task. Of the young people who took part in DWF-led workshops, 95% said their confidence had increased and 85% said their communication skills had increased as a result. This improves their overall employability skills.
Commitment within the company
Five STAR Futures has visible support from DWF’s Chief Executive and Board, and is managed by the firm’s Community Investment and Pro Bono Manager. There are corporate social responsibility (CSR) groups and champions in every DWF location. The CSR champions work closely with the programme manager to set targets and monitor progress against them.
Nearly 600 DWF employees (25%) have volunteered over 1,000 hours of their time which has increased their engagement with and pride in the firm. A survey of these volunteers showed that 100% thought the workshops had given them a chance to make a difference, while 90% said their commitment to DWF had increased after taking part.
What DWF's CEO said:
"Through our annual community survey our people consistently tell us that education is a key activity they want to focus on each year. This commitment is reflected in the success of our 5 STAR Futures approach which has ignited the imagination of large numbers of our people from all areas of our business.
"Confidence and resilience are two of the most important characteristics young people need to navigate and transition into work – something reinforced through dialogue with schools. I am incredibly proud that 5 STAR Futures fulfils this need and is supported by students, schools and teachers across the UK." - Andrew Leaitherland, Managing Partner and CEO at DWF