Make Volunteer Experience Count as Work Experience
Young people are often encouraged to volunteer not just because it's good to help others, but also because it provides them with skills and experience that can be valuable in their professional lives. Young people have complained however, that employers don't consider volunteer experience to be on the same level as paid work experience—yet it's difficult to get paid work without first having experience. Further, a number of volunteers in community based organisations actually do get training in things like proposal writing, and volunteers often manage the same kinds of tasks and responsibilities paid workers do. At the same time, young people are becoming less interested in volunteerism, especially when it requires things like leaving the community, which may be difficult due to violence or cost. Volunteerism can help communities meet their own needs outside of government or private sector projects. Allow young people to get the work experience they need while learning how to serve their communities. Find out from employers what a volunteer would need to show in order for their experience to be regarded in the same way as paid work experience. These criteria should be used to inform the processes, reporting and record-keeping used in community based organisations. Professional societies or corporate foundations could work with the SDC and community based organisations to create this kind of alignment. This alignment could provide an incentive for young people to volunteer (and continue volunteering, as a means of continuing professional development—especially if the volunteering could officially count toward professional development points of some kind). Employers or professional bodies could demonstrate that they consider experience in aligned volunteer roles as equivalent to paid experience by publicly writing about or interviewing some of the employees they've hired that way, as well as publishing the criteria they use, with which roles, with which community-based organisations, etc.