Young Volunteers are work-ready, dedicated and responsible

November 21 2016  —  by Gary Fawdrey , Engagement Coordinator at V•inspired, the UK's leading volunteering charity for 14 - 25 year olds

As an Engagement Coordinator at V•Inspired, the UK's leading volunteering charity for 14 - 25 year olds, I am responsible for helping young people find volunteering opportunities that are right for them. I also help them in how to present their new found skills to employers. Time and again, I’ve seen first-hand the fantastic effect volunteering can have on a young person’s confidence and skill-set.  

Volunteering supports young people to develop some of the most critical attributes for employment. Through volunteering, our young people take on leadership roles in their local communities and give up their time to make a huge difference to others. Despite this, all too often employers do not ask about these roles during interviews and young people don’t have the confidence to proactively raise the subject. This means that many candidates are not given an opportunity to showcase their skills and experience gained through volunteering, whilst employers end up missing out on exceptional candidates. Last year, at V•Inspired we helped 31,439 young people do 460,611 hours of voluntary work. That's a £2.3 million contribution to the economy, it’s also a huge pool of capable and employable young people for your business to consider.

The positive effect of volunteering on young people’s employability has been backed up by hard data. In 2015 the Government’s Behavioural Insights Team produced “compelling and robust evidence that young people who take part in social action initiatives develop some of the most critical skills for employment and adulthood in the process.”  

Young people with voluntary experience, are employable, high-quality candidates you could be missing out on. Here’s why:

1. Transferable Skills

Whether it’s working in a charity shop, organising an event or helping out at a care home, young people’s volunteering experience might not seem directly relevant to the role you are recruiting, but the transferrable skills certainly are. For instance problem solving, time management, communication and teamwork are often embedded into volunteering roles and youth social action projects. It’s important for employers to consider the skills the candidates may have developed through volunteering, as these experience can highlight a candidates potential.

Peter Bull, of HSBC on considering candidates’ volunteering experience during recruitment: "As an employer, I'm always keen to look for things in people outside the ordinary. Exam results are important of course, but we're also looking for other skills and other attributes. If somebody has volunteering on their CV, they are more likely to be attractive to potential employers."

2. Dedication and drive

Some people have very negative perceptions of young people, seeing them as unreliable and lazy. At V•Inspired we know this could not be further from the truth. The fantastic thing about volunteering experience is that it demonstrates that a young person is not only capable of turning up for a role and committing that time but has the drive and dedication to choose to do so voluntarily. Many young people choose to give up their free time to benefit their communities and tackle issues they care about. This proven passion should be very attractive to potential employers and bodes very well for the candidate’s punctuality and reliability. 

Colleen Greshock and Lisa Malmquist of Lightsource Creative Communications, who hired some former vInspired volunteers to work at an international event, had this to say on their drive: “They all thrived in the fast-paced, technically-complex, highly-stressful work environment. We saw poise, professionalism, smiles and ultimate dedication.”

3. Responsibility

Volunteering means that young people have experience of taking responsibility. As volunteers, their passion and dedication will have given them authority; many young people will have managed teams, organised events and balanced budgets through their volunteering and social action. This means that you can be confident in the young person’s ability to act responsibly and manage their workload, as well as their capability to take on more tasks and develop in the job.

Justin Frost of Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd on the responsibility and professionalism shown by young people with volunteering experience who he hired to work a showpiece event: “They were absolutely fantastic! They listened, took notice of everything that was said and asked of them and got on with it, all done with a smile.”

Gary Fawdrey

Gary Fawdrey is an Engagement Coordinator at V•Inspired, the UK's leading volunteering charity for 14 - 25 year olds. In this role he is responsible for helping young people and organisations to learn more about V•Inspired programmes and services, as well as signposting them to the appropriate support. He has a particular focus on employability and provides advice, guidance and support for young people transitioning into paid employment. Gary has a varied volunteering background and previously worked in promoting the benefits of youth volunteering nationally. He is a Trustee of the youth and community development charity Hackney Quest, where he leads on innovation.