Youth, Volunteering, and Employment

Handbook: Youth Volunteering as a Pathway to Employment

Youth unemployment: a worldwide concern

All over the world the youth population is facing a serious issue: there is a growing worldwide crisis of unemployment and underemployment of young people.

In its global leadership for volunteering, IAVE has long been an advocate for the ways in which volunteering can enable all people to lead healthier, more fulfilling and more productive lives at the same time that they are addressing pressing community and global problems.  We also have been a strong advocate for the inclusion of a youth voice in shaping the present and the future of volunteering.

Through our Global Corporate Volunteer Council (GCVC) and our knowledge development about corporate volunteering, we have built strong relationships with a wide variety of major global companies, one of them being Telefónica, a Spanish broadband and telecommunications provider with operations in Europe, Latin America, North America and Asia.

While we were planning for the 22nd World Conference in London, we recognized the opportunity to bring together the public and private sector as well as representatives from different major civil society groups, in an organized effort to generate a discussion about the interface of volunteering and the challenge of youth and employment. The Dialogue on Youth, Volunteering and Employment, sponsored by Telefónica, has resulted in a final report.

The report can be downloaded here: English | Spanish

Parallel to 6th IAVE Latin American Regional Conference which was held on October 14-16, 2103 in Guayaquil, Ecuador, more than 150 youth volunteers gathered to celebrate the first-ever volunteering event for youth that has taken place in Guayaquil.


As part of the Youth Conference, Telefónica sponsored the second part of the Dialogue on Youth, Volunteering and Employment. In this occasion, the Dialogue grouped youth volunteers, NGO and corporate representatives, as well as local government deputies, all of which actively participated in a conversation about volunteering as a tool to fight the global unemployment crisis, concentrating in the case of Latin America.

Can volunteering lead to a paying job?

The majority of people start volunteering because they’re passionate about a cause, but the relation between volunteering and finding a job seems only natural nowadays. Time has come to show how serving lets volunteers expand their network of contacts easily and effectively, allows them to learn new work-related skills and helps lift job seekers’ spirits by making them feel needed and productive, just to name a few of the recognized benefits.

A new US report from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency that promotes volunteering, 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?, tracked more than 70,000 jobless people between 2002 and 2012 and found that those who volunteered had a 27% better chance of finding a job than those who didn’t.

The report’s link between volunteering and getting a job is supported by a new study from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a think-tank established in 1999 to promote debate on some of the most important economic and social issues that affect people’s lives. The study, Does It Pay to Volunteer?, found that unemployed people who volunteered between 20 and 99 hours during the year were roughly 7% more likely to have found employment one year later compared to those who didn’t volunteer.

Why should companies pay attention to youth volunteering?

  • Young employees entering the workforce actively seek opportunities to engage in voluntary service to contribute to their communities.
  • Growing corporate volunteer programs  must effectively engage youth and service, whether youth as employee service leaders or as community beneficiaries of service.
  • 80% of 18-26 year olds believe that volunteering is a way to develop problem solving, decision making and negotiation skills; 98% believe companies should offer skills based volunteer opportunities; 74% believe volunteering should be used for professional development; 63% prefer to work for a company that offers volunteer opportunities that use their professional skills*.
  • Youth are now entering the workforce with expectations of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaigns, volunteer engagement and opportunities for employees to participate.
  • When it comes to employment, volunteering becomes a route by which young people can improve their employment prospects by enhancing job-related skills. Results are visible: the vast majority of employers who employ former volunteers said that they are satisfied with their performances**.

Download GYV’s Corporate-Bookmark here.

*Deloitte Volunteer Impact Surveys.
**Youth Employment: Youth perspectives on the pursuit of decent work in changing times, UN World Youth Report 2011.