ILO paper
Technical paper

Volunteer work and its links to the labour market experiences of young people

Niall O’Higgins
Arab States
Asia and the Pacific
Europe and Central Asia
Latin America and the Caribbean
North America
Youth and Volunteering

Fast read

This paper looks at how volunteering can benefit young people at the start of their careers. It uses existing literature and undertakes further longitudinal analysis, including on the effects of volunteering on young people as they seek to access good jobs.



The paper finds that in some contexts and for some young people, volunteering can provide useful support to young people to find decent work.  The evidence reviewed in the paper suggests that participation in voluntary work is associated with positive labour market outcomes, particularly in high-income countries. It also suggests that involvement in volunteer work has been more useful for youth NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) or young people who are already actively searching. 

The paper provides policymakers with a better understanding of the mechanisms through which volunteer work can play a positive role in enhancing young people’s transition from education to employment.