Stowarzyszenie Projektów Międzynarodowych „INPRO”

Volunteering as a gateway into the labor market

Volunteering as a gateway into the labor market

It does not strike one as news the fact that in recent years young people have struggled to enter the job market independently of their level of education and experience. The economic crisis which started in 2008 in the US and then spread all over the world has encouraged young people to take alternative routes to enter the job market, thus making the latter increasingly competitive.

Nowadays the market shows that it is not enough to have attended a good university and to have graduated with honours. Most employers are looking for youth with work experience, and sometimes even overlooking the level of education. So, it’s very important for young people to start thinking of ways to gain work experience during their studies. And from the point of view of both employers and youth looking for a job, one of the most effective ways to gain experience is by volunteering.

In recent years it has become more common for young people to volunteer in organizations they are interested in, not only to get ahead of their peers who only focus on studying, but also to start realizing what they like or dislike doing as a job. Moreover, volunteering has direct and indirect impacts on other people and the community in which the organization operates. So, while volunteering offers opportunities for personal growth and for gaining work experience, it also benefits the community as a whole.

Volunteering can be done both locally, in one’s own community, and for the more adventurous, in a different country and a different culture.

At the local level there are many organizations looking for youth interested in volunteering for them. Usually they take the shape of charities, youth councils or even large NGO’s active on the local and international market. All these options are welcoming youth for a “learning by doing” experience.

At the international level, there are also many options. For instance Erasmus + is supporting volunteering activities within the European Voluntary Service, which soon will be continued as the European Solidarity Corps. AIESEC is another programme offering traineeship and short volunteering periods around the world. And in some countries, the Civil Service not only ensures the safety of the volunteers, but also their development of skills and knowledge.

So while volunteering locally is a great opportunity for young people to have a direct impact on their communities, volunteering abroad offers them the chance to get in touch with a different culture, to learn a new language and to impact the hosting community in a different way.

In the end whether young people decide to stay in their cities or go to another country, volunteering serves as a flexible way for them to step into the job market. All the while having fun, making new friends and learning something new.