Headlines: January 23rd, 2006

People who undertake voluntary work in the UK or overseas are failing to market the skills they gain to employers. According to research from the Chartered Management Institute and Voluntary Service Overseas, individuals who volunteer internationally develop expertise that addresses UK skills gaps. And even though employers are quick to recognise the value of volunteering, individuals do not always market themselves sufficiently when they return home. The researchers found that some 70% of managers in local government are involved in either domestic or overseas volunteering.Eighty percent of volunteers believed they returned with expertise that they would not have gained in the UK. Some 90 per cent said they were now more capable of handling different cultures and three-quarters suggested they became better communicators. Around half also claimed that voluntary work had developed problem solving abilities and influencing skills. However, only 23 per cent saw it as a chance to build networks, and just 16 per cent cited the prospect of learning new skills as motivation for volunteering.

These newly acquired skills have the potential to make managers significantly more employable as they directly address areas where organisations admit to the persistence of skills gaps. Diversity management, 26 per cent and communication 27 per cent, were identified in the research as key areas of shortage. One-third also reported difficulties in recruiting those skilled in conflict management, 34 per cent and managing change, 38 per cent.