Volunteering: a valuable pathway to employability

Volunteering can give people the skills and confidence needed to help them find jobs according to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) new report entitled Volunteering: a valuable pathway to employability.

The report follows a £2million Big Lottery Fund-backed pilot, which helped unemployed people back into work through volunteering placements.

Under the scheme, coordinated by NCVO and delivered by local volunteer centres, unemployed people were supported into volunteering roles with local charities, giving them an opportunity to learn new skills, improve their self-esteem, and make new connections. Participants reported notable improvements in their confidence and wellbeing.

NCVO, which represents over 10,000 charities across England, said the study was proof that volunteering could help reduce unemployment by addressing skills and confidence gaps.

But the report is critical of current arrangements, with many Jobcentre Plus branches ill-equipped to help people who want to volunteer to boost their skills. Even as employment levels start to recover, there remains widespread concern about the challenges of those who have been unemployed for longer periods, with studies showing links between long-term unemployment and mental and physical ill-health.

The report is the first in a series from NCVO on how charities and volunteering can help transform public services, also calls for more training for Jobcentre Plus staff. A survey of Volunteer Centres, local organisations that support people to volunteer, found that many Jobcentre Plus staff tell clients that they will lose welfare benefits if they start to volunteer.

To download the report visit www.ncvo.org.uk/images/documents/practical_support/volunteering/vsc-policy-final.pdf.