Volunteering has a limited effect on helping people under the age of 45 to find employment, according to a report from the Third Sector Research Centre.
Research carried out for Does Volunteering Improve Employability?, published today, measured whether volunteering improved a person’s chances of finding a job the following year and how it related to job retention and progression.
Overall, volunteering monthly had a positive effect on the likelihood of people gaining employment, the report says. But volunteering on a weekly or more frequent basis had a negative effect on helping people to secure employment.
People aged between 45 and 60 gained the most from volunteering, with those who volunteered monthly most likely to get a job, according to the report.
But volunteering had very little effect on securing employment for those between the ages of 26 and 44, and no strong effect on job retention among 16 to 25-year-olds.
"We found no positive effect of volunteering on 16 to 25-year-olds' employment, no matter how much they did," the report concludes.
The report says that, while volunteering can help some people to find work, "the true value of volunteering, arguably, lies elsewhere".
Steve McKay, who co-authored the report, said the link between volunteering and employability was more complicated than people often assumed.
"Volunteering may make people more employable by building skills, confidence and increasing networks, but it cannot address the structural disadvantages that many still face in the labour market, nor can it address the demand for jobs," he said.
"We also know from other research that few people volunteer directly for employment gains. Focusing too heavily on volunteering as a route into work may neglect many of the other reasons why people volunteer. It may also play down the impact it has on other areas of life, such as individual wellbeing, sociability and building social networks."