'Positive effect' of volunteering

Employers believe that volunteering can help young people develop their careers - but only if the activities are related to the jobs for which they are applying.

Young volunteers
Young volunteers

Youth volunteering charity v questioned 1,582 young volunteers, employers, higher and further education colleges and voluntary sector organisations as part of its Youth Volunteering: Attitudes and Perceptions survey.

It found that 87 per cent of employers thought volunteering could have a positive effect on young people's career progression, compared with 76 per cent of young people and 97 per cent of voluntary sector organisations.

However, 43 per cent of employers said they considered job appplicants' volunteering experience irrelevant unless it was directly related to the job for which they were applying. For example, a candidate applying for an environmental officer position would benefit from having volunteered for an environmental project.

Terry Ryall, chief executive of v, said the survey showed that more needed to be done to raise employers' awareness of the skills that could be acquired through volunteering.

The charity is developing 'volunteering passports', which will provide young volunteers with online records of the skills and achievements gained through voluntary work, to which employers can refer.

"We recognise that more needs to be done to promote volunteering to employers, schools and colleges so that it is offered alongside more formal learning," said Ryall.

"Attitudes are incredibly influential, and we will be successful in our mission to inspire a new generation of volunteers only if the image of volunteering is a compelling one."

Many of the employers that took part in the research said that evidence of altruism was seen as increasingly important when considering possible applicants.

"It is good to have employees who are more rounded, and volunteering shows an admirable altruism, not to mention the valuable skills they will have gained," said Peter Bull, head of HSBC in the Community, who took part in the survey.

Of the employers surveyed, 88 per cent thought that volunteering could give young people communication and team-working skills, compared with 84 per cent of young people and 96 per cent of voluntary sector organisations.

"Candidates who have volunteered can demonstrate their suitability for positions in interesting and varied ways, which can set them apart from the competition," said Rachel Campbell, head of UK people management at consultancy KPMG, which also took part in the survey. "People who have volunteered are often more self-confident and self-aware."

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