Volunteering Boosts Employment Opportunities - Study
24 June 2013 at 10:28 am
A new US report from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) has found unemployed people who volunteer have a better chance at job opportunities.
The study, Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment: Does Volunteering Increase Odds of Finding a Job for the Out of Work? found unemployed individuals who volunteered over the next year have 27 percent higher odds of being employed at the end of the year than non volunteers.
The study found a relationship between volunteering and employment was stable regardless of a person’s gender, age, ethnicity, geographical area, or job market conditions.
CEO of CNCS,Wendy Spencer said many people in the volunteer sector have long felt volunteering gives a boost to those looking for work, but there had never been “solid research” to back it up.
“This report shows a definitive relationship – volunteers are more likely to be employed a year later than non-volunteers. We know that volunteering can help job seekers develop skills and expand professional contacts, creating a positive impression that can make a big difference in a competitive job market,” she said.
The federal agency used 10 years of data from the Census Bureau and analysed a nationally representative sample of more than 70,000 individuals aged 16 years or older who were looking for work. The report examined their volunteer and employment status over two years to determine whether there was a relationship between volunteering and securing a job.
“The report’s finding of a 27 percent increase in odds of employment was statistically significant,” Spencer said.
“The association between volunteering and employment remained consistent across each year of the study period and varying unemployment rates, suggesting that volunteering may provide an advantage regardless of economic conditions.
“Importantly, the relationship was strongest among individuals without a high school diploma (51 percent increase in odds) and individuals who live in rural areas (55 percent increase in odds).
“This research has far-reaching implications for the volunteer sector, for workforce agencies, for policy makers, and for those who are out of work.”
CNCS Director of Evaluation and Research Dr. Christopher Spera said the research suggested that people with limited skills or social connections – particularly those without a high school education – may see an extra benefit to volunteering as a way to open doors and level the playing field.
“Prior research has shown that volunteering can increase a person’s social connections and professional contacts (social capital) and skills and experiences (human capital), two factors that are positively related to employment outcomes,” he said.
“In addition, some workers may see volunteering as a possible entry route into a new field or organisation where they would like to work. Promoting volunteer service as a pathway for employment and opportunity has been a priority of CNCS.”