Introducing the voluntary sector
Introducing the voluntary sector

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Introducing the voluntary sector

3.1 Volunteering and employers

Employers are reported to be impressed by voluntary work. Research carried out by Reed Recruitment agency for the charity Timebank (OU Careers, n.d.) found that:

  • 73 % of employers would employ a candidate with volunteering experience over one without
  • 94 % of employers believe that volunteering can add to skills
  • 58 % of employers say that voluntary work experience can actually be more valuable than experience gained in paid employment
  • 94 % of employees who volunteered to learn new skills had benefited either by getting their first job, improving their salary, or being promoted.

There is clearly little doubt about how employers see the benefits of volunteering experience. Although all volunteering can be interesting to them, there are some careers where relevant volunteering experience is a prerequisite. Teaching, law, environment/conservation, heritage and social work are common examples but there are many others. Positions in the arts, media, publishing, development and charitable sectors are often difficult to enter without a network of contacts, direct practical experience of the industry and enormous enthusiasm.

Internships – which are lengthy periods of unpaid work – are important in many industries. However, they have attracted criticism in the media and from candidates seeking work as not everybody can afford to take them on. Furthermore, it is argued that they should be offered as unpaid work experience, for example doing a one-off project or shadowing staff, and with training, rather than being essential jobs that were once paid positions. In other words, some industries are using internships appropriately whereas other organisations are perceived as exploiting volunteers.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371