Volunteering and Employability Development
It is recognised that there are a number of motivating factors behind a person’s decision to volunteer. One motivation that is often cited as important is career advancement.
Volunteering as a route to employment
For those who are out of work, volunteering can be an important part of the journey back into employment. A volunteer may have chosen your organisation with a view to building a range of skills. These could be “hard” employment skills that are directly applicable to a specific employment sector or “soft” skills which demonstrate an individual’s timekeeping, work ethic, ability to get on with people, show initiative and so on. Either way, volunteering is a great way to develop skills that are transferable to the open job market. Volunteers can also gain relevant experience that they can add to their CV and talk about during interviews. Some of the other reasons people choose volunteering as a route to employment are:
- Provides routine and structure
- Allows a volunteer to try out different types of work
- Can gain references for work
- Boosts confidence
- Can build contacts and connections within a chosen field
- Can gain insight into the discipline, culture and practices of a work environment
What is in it for Volunteer Involving Organisations?
You may ask yourself - What are the benefits to my organisation of taking on a volunteer who wants to develop their employability skills before moving on to employment? Here are some reasons to consider a short-term volunteer:
- Encourages diversity and the inclusion of different attitudes
- Gives you the opportunity to shape the professionals of the future – many people aspire to work within your sector, e.g. health and social care
- Create new ambassadors for your organisation – volunteers who have a good experience will spread the word!
- Ensuring a good experience for short-term volunteers can create loyalty, resulting in them returning to your organisation
- Do you have a specific task that needs to be completed? You can draw on the wealth of skills a volunteer brings to complete a specific piece of work
Don’t underestimate what can be achieved in a short timeframe! The highest levels of volunteering have been found amongst those who have a degree level qualification or higher. These volunteers may only be with your organisation for a short period to gain relevant experience and skills for a particular field of work, but it’s likely that you will receive a concentrated effort from someone who is highly skilled, qualified and able to bring a fresh perspective to the work that you do. Innovative new ideas can revitalise your current volunteer workforce, as well as the work of your paid staff. This in turn can prevent your organisation from stagnating, allowing you to stay current.
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- Low et al., 2007; CLG, 2011, as cited in Paine, A.E; McKay, S & Moro, D (2013) Does volunteering improve employability? Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey, Birmingham: Third Sector Research Centre