03 Nov 2010

Businesses look to third sector to improve staff performance

OU course will help people to get the most out of volunteering

OU course will help people to get the most out of volunteering

The Open University and Young Enterprise, the UK’s leading education charity for budding young business minds, today joined forces to launch Learning by Volunteering - a new course for volunteers, designed to help them make the most of their volunteering experience by transferring the new skills they develop back into the workplace.

Every year Young Enterprise brings together more than 300,000 young people aged four to 24 with 4,500 UK business volunteers to learn from their first hand knowledge and experience about business and entrepreneurship.

The 30 hour Open University course will help volunteers to get the most out of the volunteering experience. They will learn to understand the educational context which they will be operating in, recognise the value of planning and project management, manage interpersonal relationships effectively, encourage entrepreneurial spirit and use appropriate skills to lead and evaluate performance.

Francis Cattermole, of The Open University said: “Learning by Volunteering aims to strengthen the work Young Enterprise is doing to recognise employee development. By formalising the link between skills development and volunteering, businesses can better realise this potential wealth of experience. Training and development in the 21st century needs this additional dimension. It needs to develop skills but at the same time encourage self worth and fulfilment.”

John May, CEO of Young Enterprise UK, welcomes the new course. He said: “‘Skills based volunteering’ is the new training. It facilitates staff development, boosts staff retention and empowers staff to take on new challenges and to bring an innovative perspective to the business. We’ve seen an increased interest in volunteering as more businesses see the value in enabling staff to volunteer. Many of the companies we work with say that staff retention is has improved significantly as a result. The launch of Learning by Volunteering will formalise the learning experience and give businesses a tangible benefit for encouraging staff to volunteer.”

Notes to Editors

• The course consists of 10 hours of study, 10 hours of reflection and 10 hours of related activities which have been designed to be worked on in conjunction with the volunteering activity.
• Each student receives a Personal Development Plan, to track their own progress through their volunteering, as well as podcasts on the four main themes of the course, all of which are available online.
• The supported open learning delivery method means that students can study online in their own time, with the support of a learning advisor and student forums to share experiences.
• The four main themes of the course are:
- ‘What is volunteering?’ explores how to use the experience for personal learning and the sources of support available as a volunteer.
- ‘Preparing for the journey’ focuses on the roles volunteers play with young people, the educational context in which the volunteers will be working and how to plan work activities and manage time.
- ‘Taking the hot seat’ concentrates on presentation skills, marketing and project management, and a range of important people skills including: communication, interpersonal skills, teamwork and feedback.
- ‘Volunteering with confidence’ brings together creativity and innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership, and evaluation.

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