Does volunteering help people get paid work?
See also volunteering and claiming benefits
Volunteering can help some people get paid work but it's a far from certain route and done wrongly may even be counter productive.
Many recruiters of volunteers and others suggest that volunteering is helpful to people looking for paid work. For example Volunteering: a valuable pathway to employability describes a programme for disadvantaged people and reports:
The project succeeded in assisting 22% of participants into paid work. Of those who had not found a job, 69% were actively seeking employment and 80% felt, as a result of participating in the programme, they were now more confident about finding paid employment.
However, weaknesses include not knowing if the 22% would have got work anyway and also not knowing if the 80% who became more confident actually secured employment.
Our analysis found that volunteering has a significant, but weak, effect on employability in terms of entry into work. The frequency of volunteering, however, makes a difference to its effects on employment outcomes. The effects also vary according to demographics. The evidence on job retention is weaker, and volunteering appears to have zero or even negative effects on wage progression.
Volunteering on a monthly basis had a positive effect on the chances of people not in work one year moving into paid employment the next year. However, those volunteering on a weekly basis or a yearly basis had lower than average chances of moving into paid work.
Volunteering had a positive effect on the chances of moving into work for people aged 45-60 years old when undertaken on a monthly or slightly less frequent basis. We found no positive effect of volunteering on young people’s (16-25 year olds) employment, no matter how much they did: Infrequent volunteering had no effect; regular (monthly or weekly) volunteering had a negative effect. Among 26-44 year olds,volunteering had very little effect – either positive or negative – on the chances of moving into employment.
Overall then, our analysis suggests that some volunteering can have a positive effect on the likelihood of people moving into employment, but it depends on who you are, why you are out of work, and on how much volunteering you do. Doing ‘too much’ volunteering (i.e.... on a weekly or more frequent basis) had a universally negative effect, particularly among young people and/or students.
We've seen cases where a volunteer has progressed to paid work - and cases where they haven't. We think it can help some jobseekers but it needs to be "relevant volunteering" and part of a plan. See our Practical suggestions
We get a lot of contact from support workers, etc., working to resolve the barriers their clients have to employment. While volunteering may be helpful, those barriers are often barriers to volunteering too. Points to note:
For volunteer recruiters