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Volunteering as a student makes the transition to work easier

Students from dozens of colleges and universities are volunteering in businesses and organisations across the country this week, building collaborative networks and showcasing their talents, skills and innovative thinking.

That's because it's Student Volunteering Week 2016, which runs from 22 to 28 February. The event is in its fifteenth year, and in 2015, 86 different higher and further education institutions took part.

Making a successful transition between education and the workplace is vital for young people to get their careers on track; research has found that early workplace experiences have a formative effect on working attitudes and career outcomes.

Taking on volunteers

Volunteering can prepare young people for work, help them develop new skills, learn how to operate in a team, and network with potential employers.

It also gives them much needed workplace experience, meaning that when the first job comes, it's much less likely to be an intimidating or bewildering time - getting them off to the right start.

On the other side of the coin, employers get to build stronger roots in their communities and create relationships with education institutions, helping them to attract and retain the kind of talent they need for their business.

Brass tacks

Volunteers may get travel or lunch expenses, but volunteers don't receive a wage and are not classed as workers or employees. They don't have a contract of employment, and are not entitled to the National Minimum Wage.

Not being employees, they don't get the same rights and entitlements as their employed colleagues, such as discrimination protection.

But they should be given a volunteering agreement and a role description (rather than a job description), and should have access to appropriate training and development.

Acas publications and services

Acas has advice about Volunteers, work experience and internships, including employment status issues and employing people who volunteer.

Acas experts can also visit your organisation and help you find the most effective ways of recruiting the best people, draw up contracts of employment, and get your induction processes streamlined. For more information visit Workshops, projects and business solutions or call the customer services team on 0300 120 1150.

Practical training is also available on Recruitment, Employing People - A Practical Introduction, Staff retention, Contracts and terms and conditions, and Flexible working.

For free, impartial advice and guidance visit Acas Helpline Online.

Visit the Acas Training Courses, Workshops and Projects area for more information.

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We recommend that you explore further information and advice available on this website, particularly within our Advice A-Z guidance pages. If you have questions about workplace rights and rules visit Helpline Online.
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