Almost three-quarters of young volunteers have credited the experience with improving their job prospects, research shows.
A new study by the Royal Voluntary Service, conducted in partnership with the University of Kent, set out to explore the potential of volunteering to improve people's life chances.
The report, called Social Mobility: Unleashing the Power of Volunteering, found that out of a 1,000 volunteers aged between 16 and 65, more than half of respondents credited volunteering with improving their job prospects.
This rose to 73 per cent among 16 to 19-year-olds.
For one in 10 volunteers, volunteering helped them move from state benefits, unemployment or redundancy into paid work, researchers found, rising to 14 per cent for those in their twenties and 12 per cent for those in their thirties.
More than a third of volunteers in the study aged 16 to 19, 22 per cent of those in their twenties and 10 per cent of respondents in their thirties also said volunteering helped them find their first job.
The report found that the experience could support career progression, with 23 per cent of working volunteers aged 16-19, more than a quarter in their twenties, and 30 per cent of respondents in their thirties saying that volunteering had helped them secure a better job.
For older volunteers, researchers found that 35 per cent of those aged 50 and over said their employability improved as a result of their volunteering experience.
In addition, a fifth of those in their thirties and a similar number in their forties saw volunteering as a way to retrain or gain experience for a career-change.
More than half of respondents told researchers they had received training as part of their volunteering role, and more than 9 in 10 who had received training felt it had helped them gain new skills which made them more employable.
This increased to 100 per cent of 16-19 year olds and 97 per cent of those in their twenties.
Eddy Hogg, senior lecturer in social policy at the University of Kent and author of the report, said: “Set against a backdrop of rising unemployment, particularly among young people and those over the age of 50, of job uncertainty for many, and of persistent societal inequalities, this positive report identifies that volunteering can be a route to employment, particularly when excellent training and support are available.”