International volunteering: employability, leadership and more
2017-09-01T15:33:52Z (GMT) by
PURPOSE. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the experiences of individuals in transition between education and work during international volunteering expeditions. While it was expected that outcomes might include employability enhancement and skill development, the authors aimed to clarify what the main factors were, examine employability related factors in relation to other groups of variables, investigate development needs perceived by individuals, and evaluate the extent to which factors explored were influenced by participant attributes. Finally, the authors aim to integrate these findings into a series of recommendations for future research. DESIGN/METHODOLOGY/APPROACH. The study involved 406 respondents in three countries, where data were collected in the field. Survey design was based on previous related studies in volunteering and employability. Principal components analyses revealed a four‐component structure relating to leadership and teamwork, the environment and empathy, values and volunteering, and personal skills. FINDINGS. Employability enhancement was not a primary motive for engaging in the expeditions. Data suggest that respondents had much more altruistic motivations, with perceived benefits more associated with emotional capital development and authentic leadership, although respondents also acknowledged an enhanced ability to deal with selection processes due to their enriched experiences. RESEARCH LIMITATIONS/IMPLICATIONS. In undertaking this work using quantitative methods, the authors acknowledge that they have limited access to the richness of data that might emerge from more in depth narrative analysis. Further research could engage respondents in focus group studies. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS. The implications of this research are for individuals, that engagement with international volunteering for disingenuous reasons such as CV enhancement is likely to lead to failure, and for employers that individuals who have engaged are likely to have benefited from significant development in leadership skills. For international volunteering organisations, promotion of the employability‐enhancing attributes of the expedition may be less relevant to potential participants than the richness of the experience itself. SOCIAL IMPLICATIONS. Engagement with international volunteering is personally transformative as well as delivering benefits in the context of the communities where the volunteering took place. While some respondents were drawn from a “widening participation” background there were no significant differences in their responses. ORIGINALITY/VALUE. The authors believe this is the first study to attempt a detailed analysis of the range of attributes potentially held by individuals engaging in international volunteering expeditions.