Does volunteering improve employability? Evidence from the British Household Panel Survey

Publication type

Research Paper

Series Number



Third Sector Research Centre Working Papers


Publication date

July 15, 2013


There is considerable support in the literature for the idea that volunteering helps improve employability and acts as a route to employment. Policy initiatives are consistent with this message. We analysed longitudinal evidence from the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) to test this theory. Our analysis found that volunteering has a significant, but weak, effect on employability in terms of entry into work. The frequency of volunteering, however, makes a difference to its effects on employment outcomes. The effects also vary according to demographics. The evidence on job retention is weaker, and volunteering appears to have zero or even negative effects on wage progression. While the BHPS has limitations for this kind of analysis, we suggest that too much has been made of the link between volunteering and employability, and indeed that intention is infrequent among volunteers.



Related Publications



Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author


Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society


Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs


Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report


Key research themes and areas of interest