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Boosting young people’s employability through volunteering

Developing employability skills is a key part of preparing to transition from school to work. Completing a work experience placement is widely recognised as an effective way of building the core competencies that help young people progress in the workplace.

Securing a placement has become harder in recent years. With many companies moving to a working from home model, there are logistical impracticalities with shadowing employees. The cost of living crisis is also having an impact, with many businesses struggling and unable to allocate the required resources.

There are, however, other effectual ways for young people to boost their employability skills. Volunteering offers opportunities to build confidence and ability in areas such as problem solving, communicating and working with others. Upskilling in these areas can have a transformative effect. A 2021 study by the Royal Voluntary Service noted that 58% of the respondents credited it with improving their job prospects, rising to 73% amongst the 16 to 19 years age group.

Volunteers Week is an annual celebration of the contribution that millions of volunteers make to their communities, with hundreds of activities taking place across the week. You can find more about what’s happening and how to get involved on the Volunteers Week website

Driven to help young people in greatest need achieve meaningful outcomes, helping young learners to progress in work is one of our key goals. ASDAN keenly advocate volunteering and the value it provides to young people. We recognise that the core skills needed to progress in employment should be nurtured and developed in young learners. Volunteering is a highly credible and achievable way to accomplish this. ASDAN’s Volunteering Short Course is a practical and accessible way for learners to plan and record their volunteering work, with space to review and reflect.

Other ASDAN courses also focus on the importance of building a palette of skills to assist the trajectory towards the world of work. Aimed at pre-16 and post-16 learners, the Employability qualifications supply the structure for them to develop and recognise crucial employability skills. Our Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) was designed with special consideration about the benefits of work-based learning. The course provides a unique opportunity to build the project around a work experience placement, offering a clear line of sight to employment and training. My Independence is our suite of certificated programmes aimed at young people with special educational needs. Preparing learners for good life outcomes, the course activities are mapped to the four Preparing for Adulthood pathways, including employability.

Susannah Harlow is ASDAN’s Education & Policy Development Officer. She reflected on some of her experiences of how volunteering can change the life of young learners:

“During my time as a teacher, members of my tutor group volunteered in various ways, including mentoring younger students, fundraising, working in charity shops and engaging in social action projects. I was often struck by how they stepped up to new responsibilities – their skills of team work, communication and creativity shone and I got an opportunity to get to know so much more about them than I ever could within the four walls of my classroom”.

For last year’s Volunteers Week, we created a free resource pack to help young people prepare for volunteering. Read the blog to find out more about the Volunteering Short Course and download the free resources.