FUTURE STUDENTS may be able to gain financially from carrying out volunteering work during their studies. Chancellor Gordon Brown's pre-Budget report in December 2006 proposed a "new path for entry to university, in which students volunteer in return for a reduction in tuition fees".
While some commentators are sceptical of the Government's promotion of financial incentives for voluntary activity, many have welcomed the proposal; including the National Union of Students, whose education vice-president Wes Streeting commended the Government for recognising that financial barriers may stand in the way of students volunteering.
However, although they might not be benefiting from cash incentives, many current student volunteers are already reaping other rewards from their unpaid work. At The University of Manchester's careers service, we find that a wide range of graduate recruiters frequently emphasises the benefits of having volunteering experience on your CV.
As corporate social responsibility gains greater prominence, more companies are encouraging their employees to engage in voluntary work. This not only boosts the personal development of staff, but also scores valuable PR points for the organisation.
Consequently, many of today's employers understand the advantages of recruiting graduates who already have voluntary experience. According to a Timebank survey, 73 per cent of employers stated they would prefer to employ someone with voluntary experience than someone without, while 58 per cent thought that voluntary work experience could be considered more valuable than experience gained in paid employment.
Recruiters at The Co-operative Group, for example, believe that volunteering gives candidates a unique set of skills and experience, which cannot be gained or rivalled by work undertaken within the commercial sector. Hannah Slaney, graduate programme manager, claims that candidates who have undertaken volunteer work stand out because "they can demonstrate more easily that they are able to balance priorities, share resources and are willing to work towards the common good of the team, rather than for their own personal gain."
Volunteering may also provide a way into careers within the third sector. …