Volunteering activities are wide spread among EU countries and young people represent a large share of volunteers. Promoting the benefits of volunteering in terms of skills and competences development could be a lever to the employability of young people, who are particularly facing unemployment. This is why it is necessary to value these experiences not only as contributing to building more inclusive societies but also as a pathway to the job market.
On the 23rd November our European Policy and Advocacy Manager Laura de Bonfils was in London to present the work and of the Eurovip Erasmus + project to the very interested audience of NNVIA, the Network of National Volunteer-Involving Agencies that brings together more than 100 national charities that recognise the critical importance of volunteers in achieving their mission.
The informal setting of most volunteering activities creates an obstacle to recognising skills gained during these experiences in the labour market, as the under-valuation by volunteers themselves and a lack of awareness among recruiters.
In this context, the aim of the ERASMUS+ Project European Volunteer Inclusion Program (EuroVIP) is to strengthen the recognition of skills and competences acquired by young adults (17-30 years old) during volunteer activities, to promote them as valuable for their entrance into the labour market and to strengthen the link between business and non-profit fields.
Within this project Volunteering Matters is working with a consortium of international partners led by the French organisation FACE and composed also by Pour la Solidarité from Belgium, VOLUM from Romania and Wismar from Germany.
Over two years (2016-2018), the project is supporting 180 young volunteers from France, Germany, Romania and the UK in the definition of their professional pathway, and the certification of their skills and knowledge gained during their engagement, thanks to a portfolio of competences developed in the framework of the project. The project has also a second aim to raise awareness among 60 recruiters, demonstrating the competences gained during volunteering. The final aim of the project is to create working synergies in the promotion of voluntary missions in Europe and the recognition of competences acquired by the young volunteers.
The project has developed two tools so far: that can be found on the project website in English, Romanian, German and French.
The first one is The Portfolio for Volunteering experiences – Based on the ProfilPASS for Young people developed by the German Institut for adult education Leibniz center for Lifelong Learning (DIE). The original ProfilPASS was a portfolio taking a look at all areas of private and professional Life, while the ProfilPASS for Volunteering focuses especially on competences deriving from voluntary activities.
The portfolio aims at supporting Volunteer Managers to teach their volunteers to recognise the skills and competencies they picked up during their volunteering activities. It is a self-evaluation tool focused especially on non-formal and informal learning, and has been adapted to the national needs and requirements of each partner country.
It consists in several activities aimed at identifying soft skills that can be done also by the volunteers without supervision. The portfolio than gives the possibility to give a certificate to the volunteer.
After having developed this tool the consortium developed a practical guide for recruiters to find out more about volunteering in order to support the employability of young people in the European Union. The new guide will be soon available on the project website.
While the final stage of the project will develop a final intellectual output the Best practices handbook containing experiences and success stories coming from the project as well as tips for valuing and identifying skills developed while volunteering and it will develop Policy Recommendations for employers and volunteers.
Finally Volunteering Matters will organise in London an event that will put together potential recruiters and volunteers to create awareness on the power of volunteering but also to support volunteers to build their capacity and identify their valuable strengths as well as meeting possible employers. With the final aim to support them entering in the labour market or get a better quality employment.
The audience has welcomed the tools and the presentation was followed by a lively discussion in which the group decided possible steps and collaborations to work together to raise awareness on the skills developed while volunteering and how to find ways to foster their recognition.
Laura de Bonfils, European Policy and Advocacy Manager