How Effective is Youth Volunteering as an Employment Strategy? A Mixed Methods Study of England

Bryony Hoskins, Pauline Leonard, Rachel Wilde

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Volunteering has recurrently been advocated in UK policy as a key mechanism for young people to gain paid employment, but with little in the way of evidence to support the strategy. Indeed, although research in this area is limited, that which does exist suggests that the link between volunteering and paid work is weak. Further, it is young people from higher social backgrounds who are more likely to access good quality unpaid work experience. This article draws on mixed methods research using the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Survey data to contribute to analyses of the relationship between volunteering and employment for young people. It finds a multifaceted picture but, in the short term, there is little to evidence to support policy assumptions that the two are positively related, regardless of social class and type of volunteering performed. A more informed policy approach to the complexities of young people’s employability is needed.

© 2020, The Author(s). This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-781
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2020


  • Employment, mixed methods, transitions, unpaid work, volunteer, youth.

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