Volunteering to Gain Work Experience

If you are aged between 16 and 24 it is often hard to have the experience you need to get a job. Many employers insist that candidates must have up to date experience in order to qualify for a job, but how do you get this experience if no one will give you a job to gain it.

While you are claiming Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) you are entitled to become part of a scheme called Voluntary Work Experience to gain the experience you need. In this scheme you carry on getting JSA but you go to work for an employer, full time to gain knowledge of what the job is and what it is like to work in this sector of employment. The amount of time you are volunteering will only be for a limited amount of weeks so that you can still look for full or part time paid employment.

What you need to know about voluntary work experience

Voluntary work experience is a valuable way to assist you in your search for a job, especially if you have no previous work experience but have some skills, for example you are just leaving college or university. You volunteer to work for a particular company for anything between 2 and 8 weeks to see how your skills fit into a particular work placement and to have something to put on your CV.

Voluntary work experience is also useful to get a new work reference, to help you build your confidence, to see if you like that particular field of employment and to see what it is like to structure your week around established hours. These hours are usually between 25 and 30 which are about 5-6 hours a day. You would then also have some free hours each day to attend the Jobcentre Plus and any other schemes they think you would benefit from or to attend interviews.

If you have to travel far to your voluntary work placement or have children that need to go into childcare the Jobcentre Plus may be able to give you financial aid towards these costs.

How do you find a job to volunteer at?

If you are interested in volunteering to get gain work experience with this scheme you need to talk to your Jobcentre Plus advisor about it. They can tell you where there are companies registered with the scheme that are seeking volunteers in your field of work and check to see if you qualify for any extra financial assistance. They can explain to you exactly what your commitment will be and what you have to do to still be eligible for JSA whilst you are on the scheme. They can also tell you exactly what happens at both the beginning and the end of your placement.

If you know of an organisation looking for volunteers in your chosen field of work you can choose to volunteer there even if they are not already party of the scheme. You have to let the Jobcentre Plus advisor know as they can then add the new employer to the scheme to ensure that you can still get your JSA.

Your Jobcentre Plus will also have all the additional information for you about how Voluntary Work Experience will help you gain permanent employment and give you any relevant information about the work experience placement that you accept. As with every part of job seeking the Jobcentre Plus people are the most knowledgeable and therefore should always be your first port of call.

So who is Voluntary Work Experience for?

In order to qualify for Voluntary Work Experience you need to be between 16 and 24 years of age but you also have to be claiming Jobseekers Allowance. You need to have been claiming this benefit for at least 13 weeks before you are eligible so there is no point signing up for JSA and expect to be able to join this scheme straight away. After a certain amount of time being in receipt of JSA you are asked to join a Work Programme which is a much more intensive form of assistance in getting a job. Up until you are asked to join the Work Programme you are still eligible to join the Voluntary Work Experience programme to give you a better chance of getting a job.

Whilst you are on the Voluntary Work Experience programme in order to still qualify for JSA you must still attend your regular Jobsearch interview and still be able to prove that you are looking for work. If you are on the programme however, your advisor will be able to fit the times of your interview around your voluntary hours. If you are volunteering in this scheme and get an interview for a job that cannot be scheduled around your hours you will be expected to attend the interview, remember this is voluntary work so they have to be understanding of your personal circumstances.

How this Voluntary Work Experience can benefit your job search

If you have decided to join this scheme, it is well to understand exactly how the experience can help you on your job search and what you need to gain from it. If you approach it with an attitude of complacency you may not get the best of the experience and it may just be a complete waste of your time. It is possible to get a leaflet from the Jobcentre Plus explaining all the best ways you can take advantage of this experience to aid you search for work. You can also download the leaflet Voluntary Work Experience – Some Top Tips if you have access to the internet.

Remember that if you do not have access to the internet at home you can go to your local library and use the internet there for all sorts of things. While there may be a charge to print things off, if you download the leaflet and then write down the tips in your own notebook you will save some money. That being said the libraries do not charge more than pence to print things of per sheet.