About the ProVol project and consortium
Volunteering grants vital and valuable experiences to people who thus develop new skills und useful know-how. As a lot of these skills and work experiences are not only helpful in volunteering related activities, they are also useful in paid work (such as skills like time or project management, communication, PR work, and others) and therefore improve the employability of people volunteering. This way civic engagement can be seen as an important and powerful source of informal learning that constitutes a potential way into employment or to improve career prospects.
But usually these skills are acquired incidental, occasional or indirect, as most volunteer training are only related to specific objective of the volunteer position, and therefore are usually very specific. What are missing are more general trainings for skills development, to be more professional and efficient in volunteering. However, this is also a problem a lot of NGOs are facing: due to the financial crisis most NGOs get even less money than before, even if there services are needed even more and that their (economic) value is recognized. For this reason, in order to keep adding value to these fields, social organisations and institutions need to work more professional, efficient and effective, as resources are scare and tasks are much more complex and challenging.
With these facts in mind, the German partner organisation has already developed a training concept especially for volunteers and coordinators of volunteers. This training program aims at promoting professional skills and competences like for instance in the fields of team or project management. Although these skills should primarily help people to perform their voluntary work more economically and efficiently, training participants also benefit in terms of developing crucial employability competences and skills and acquire work references. (But of course professional volunteering, and being more professional as volunteers should never replace paid work!)
So this training is beneficiary on many levels:
a) for volunteers: it enables volunteers to work more effectively and task-orientated in their volunteer work and improves their employability, it offers disadvantaged people (e.g. unemployed, low skilled, and at the risk of social exclusion) a chance of not only participating actively in society, but gaining professional training and work experience for free.
b) for NGOs: it supports the volunteer work within NGOs as it is a way of bridging resource shortages, but also attracting new volunteers, as NGOs offer additional, work related free trainings, and is an good approach of the changing character of volunteering: volunteers are much more likely to undertake shorter and more project-based activities. It is capacity building of staff within the own organisation and is a successful way to the professionalisation of volunteering
c) for employers: recognising the value of volunteering as pathway of gaining work related skills and expertise of (potential) staff
d) for the general public: strengthening volunteering and therefore its value for society, increasing the participation of disadvantaged in society in a positive way and being important for social inclusion.
As the training program for volunteers and volunteer coordinators has been successfully implemented by the German partner and has proven its positive impact, a consortium of four volunteer organisations from Romania, Czech Republic, the UK and Germany has been set up, to develop this training further as a standardized training program for volunteering, pilot test it in different environments and with different target group across Europe. Altogether 80 volunteer coordinators, and 180 volunteers will be trained, and around 300 multipliers will be reached directly.
The main aim of this partnership was, to develop two training manuals “Professional volunteering”: one as a train-the-trainer program for volunteer coordinators and the other one for training volunteers, which is useful for all kind of volunteering. Throughout dissemination activities by the four partners and their national and international networking connections partners distributed the manuals across Europe, to support volunteering across Europe and enhance professional skills development of staff in NGOs and volunteers, especially volunteers, who are disadvantaged and with little or no access to formal trainings or work experience.