Volunteering improves job prospects, engagement, learning and diversity, IES report shows

Volunteering helps young people develop the skills and confidence that improve their chances of getting a job, new research by the Institute for Employment Studies shows.

The study, published today. found volunteering is "particularly successful" in helping vulnerable and low-skilled young people to re-engage with learning and in raising their personal and career ambitions. The Volunteering: Supporting transitions'report commissioned by V, The National Young Volunteers Service, found that young people recognise volunteering as a means to improve their employability and to enhance their CV.

It also showed that their expectations in relation to these factors are exceeded and that they gain much more from volunteering than they anticipate. Young people reported an improved insight into future careers and an opportunity to earn certificates, complete qualifications and develop valuable networks. The report reveals a number of key outcomes from volunteering that can help to inform future policy development around young people's education and employment transitions.

Becci Newton, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Employment Studies and one of the report's authors, said: "With the end of the Future Jobs Fund, replaced by relatively short-term work experience programmes, there is a greater need for long term, structured volunteering programmes. These are particularly valuable to the most vulnerable young people who need greater support to develop their skills and capabilities in readiness for education or employment.

"We've recently seen the Government commit resources to improving young people's employment prospects, and this research shows that volunteering should be a vital part of that initiative.

"Volunteering also helped young people identify goals, recognise their strengths, take ownership and make positive choices for their futures. For those who are NEET, volunteering is hugely valuable in re-building their confidence and self-esteem as well as increasing their skill and qualification levels. It also provides a critical stepping stone into further learning - which is crucial in light of the policy to Raise the Participation Age in education."

The research found volunteering is successful in engaging young people, helping them to gain qualifications and securing positive progression to further education. Given the policy commitment to raising the participation age to 18 by 2015, structured volunteering placements can provide a critical transition route for young people who are keen to develop their skills and gain qualifications in a non-formal educational setting. Volunteering may also help vulnerable and disadvantaged young people to re-engage with formal learning.

Volunteering part-time is valuable to young people involved in higher education since it provides a means to apply their skills in a practical setting, gain career insights and explore different interests.

It helps young people to develop their networks and mix with a more diverse social group. It also increases their ability to work within and across authority structures. This suggests that providing volunteering opportunities to a wide range of young people will help to break-down social barriers and lead to greater community cohesion and personal well-being.

Terry Ryall, V's @font-face { font-family: "Times"; }@font-face { font-family: "Cambria"; }p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal { margin: 0cm 0cm 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; }div.Section1 { page: Section1 CEO, said: "With one in five young people facing unemployment, helping them stay connected to society and develop the leadership and employability skills that will shape their future is one of the most urgent and critical tasks of the next decade. "This research demonstrates the powerful role that volunteering can play in enabling young people to develop the confidence, skills and capabilities to make positive and successful transitions to learning and work.

"V is committed to building on the success of the vtalent year programme, by working with government and business to develop high quality, long-term structured volunteering opportunities. Opportunities which will complement the new Work Programme and plug a significant gap in new provision."