Volunteers need to be equipped with the appropriate knowledge and skills needed to undertake their role confidently and effectively. It is usually the Volunteer Manager’s role to ensure appropriate training is provided. Good training and development can be a key motivating factor in recruiting and retaining volunteers. Bear in mind that volunteers may be looking to improve their employability skills and advance in their career, so having good training in place is very important in terms of recruiting and retaining a diverse range of volunteers. It’s important to take time to explain what the training involves, why it’s necessary and the personal benefits. Remember that some volunteers need additional support to help them to benefit from the training. It’s always good to use a wide variety of methods to cater for different learning styles.
Effective volunteer training
Volunteers usually need initial induction training as well as ongoing, in-service training. There are benefits to being able to offer as part of your training something tangible that recognises their achievements, such as a certificate or qualification. This can not only build confidence in your volunteers, but can also make your organisation more attractive to those looking to develop their employability skills and add something to their CVs.
- Equips volunteers with the knowledge and skills required to carry out their role.
- Provides a means of managing any risk.
- Ensures that volunteers understand relevant policies and procedures.
- Builds volunteer confidence and provides an opportunity to meet other volunteers.
- Can help unsuitable volunteers to self-select out.
- Helps to maintain standards of quality in service delivery.
- Keeps volunteers motivated and their skills updated.
- Helps volunteers to share ideas and experiences with other volunteers.
- Often volunteers can benefit from a variety of training, including on the job training, with a mentor or coach, as well as opportunities to attend external training.
What should be included in the training?
Training you have to provide
Training you provide for the specific role
This will be specific to the role, for example, child protection training for a volunteer working with young people, or benefits system training for a volunteer advice worker. Usually, you will have to do regular essential updating of knowledge and skills.
This is training you offer volunteers that is not essential to their involvement but provides them with opportunities to develop their role.
Think about the following:
- What is the volunteer role?
- How you are going to deliver the training?
- What information are you going to give the volunteers about the training in advance?
- Do you need to check what the volunteers already know? If so, how will you do this?
- What are the learning objectives?
- When are the volunteers available to participate in the training?
- Which training method or methods will best achieve the learning outcomes?
- Does the training have a stimulating balance of suitable techniques?
- What are the practical requirements?
- How will you assess the training?
- How will you find out about further learning needs?
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