We Brits are a nation of givers. We are so generous when it comes to donating to charity and to crisis appeals like the recent and ongoing disasters in Syria and The Philippines. Rememeber how many people volunteered as Games Makers at the London 2012 Olympics.
National figures published last year showed that 44% of adults had formally volunteered once the previous 12 months and 29% once a month during that period, which equates to 22.7 million people throughout the UK.
Volunteering is a particularly good thing for young people to do, particularly those who are looking to make themselves stand out in the job market. It is not enough these days to have good qualifications – you need to have that something extra which shows that you are totally committed to your career choice. I have two daughters, one at uni doing a one-year art foundation course and the other in the sixth form starting on A Levels. Both of them have been involved in activities which will add to their overall experience of the careers they want to go into, namely live events for one and the fashion industry for the other.
To me this approach was obvious as I always believe that you should choose your career because it excites you and you are passionate about it, not because of the money. If you are good at what you do, then the money will follow. But it seems that this approach is not the case for all young people. I recently went to a university open day with my elder daughter and I was really surprised that they have set up a scheme which rewards young people with points and prizes for gaining work experience (both paid and unpaid. To me it seems common sense to go and get some knowledge of a field you want to work in or to see if it is for you!
So I was delighted when Prince Charles launched “Step Up To Serve”, which is encouraging young people to volunteer not just as a do-gooder but as a route to work. 73% of employers view volunteering as a favourable qualification on a CV. It doesn’t even have to be in your chosen career (although I believe this is favorable). Just being involved in a project can teach crucial workplace skills, such as communication, delegation and leadership.
You can read all about “Step Up To Volunteer” here
Employers are also being encouraged to get involved by allowing their staff to have time off to volunteer in social action projects. There is often a shortage of adults to help young people in a voluntary capacity. Just think of the number of scouts and brownie groups which struggle to continue because there is no on who wants to take on the challenge. We all lead such busy lives these days but it really can be very rewarding to give your time. Personally, I am voluntary mentor for UnLtd, the organisation which supports social entrepreneurs. It is fantastic to be helping a young person but I am also learning from it myself – topic for another blog!