Community Works Service Update

Why should I work for nothing?

This is a common response when I suggest to someone have you considered volunteering. We have a bit of a chat about it and three things usually come up. One, they don’t want to work in a shop, two, what if they don’t like it? Finally, why should they work for nothing?

Community Works Service Update

Volunteering has never been just about people working in charity shops. Partly, I think because charity shops are what we see that we think that is all there is. You imagine a job and somebody, somewhere will probably be happy to let you volunteer to do it. A lot of organisations rely on volunteers while others have one or two.

Dealing with the second question, what if you don’t like it? Well, what do you normally do when you don’t like something, you leave.  You are a volunteer, it’s your choice what you do, how long you do it and how often. So often I end up explaining that volunteering is voluntary, you have a choice If you don’t like where you are just explain this and leave, it happens all the time. Besides, most volunteer roles will have a taster day for you to get a feel of the place.

The final and for many people most important objection to volunteering is that they think they get nothing for it.  What do employers look for? Experience, skills, qualifications and of course the “right attitude”. Opinions may differ as to what the “right attitude” is but most employers would agree that someone who can come out with comments such as I work 2/3 days a week as a receptionist/catering assistant/youth worker/driver or whatever has got a pretty good attitude.  In addition, you are surrounded by employed people who can let you know about any vacancies they might hear about and give you a reference. You have proof that you want to work and you are keeping your skills up to date which means you can hit the employed ground running.  

Volunteering provides up to date experience, keeps your skills fresh and some organisations will provide qualifications for reliable volunteers. In addition, volunteering can provide an opportunity to widen your job search without risk. You can volunteer in an unfamiliar role to see if it suits you. 

Here at Community Works we can help people find diverse, rewarding and relevant volunteer opportunities. We can also provide you accredited training in Customer Service and Hospitality to name two.  So, consider volunteering, you can get a whole big load of nothing.  

Prove It! 

You don’t need to have worked with unemployed people to have heard someone complain about going on a training course.  I can see the point when you are working, you don’t want to be distracted and you are worried about your customers. It is a bit more confusing when the speaker is unemployed and say they are looking for work. When I say training I mean something useful, relevant and preferably accredited. Anyone can print out a certificate saying you have “attended for 3 hours” but really that’s all it proves, that you have attended.

Since the beginning of the year Community Works has been working towards accredited training. Several training courses, verification and proof sessions later, we are not accredited by the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning and Qualsafe, one of the largest awarding organisations in the UK regulated by OFQUAL.

It was not just a question of signing up and paying the bill. We had to prove it.  We had to prove that our courses were of a standard to be accredited. We have, and now we can, deliver accredited Customer Service, Hospitality, First Aid and various other courses to our tenants and clients. 

A qualification not only shows that you can provide great customer service or know how to run a safe and hygienic kitchen. It shows you know how important it is to do so. You think it’s so important that it is worth the time and effort to make sure you get it right. You can do what everyone else does and say how good you are on your CV or in an interview. Having the qualification proves it. 

Slower Retirement Create Opportunities for Skilled Part-timers

I’ve been thinking about flexible working with Mother’s Day and International Women’s Day fast approaching and so many female part time workers out there. Flexible working has come to mean exploitative zero-hour contracts in low paid, low skilled jobs with little hope of progression.  There is hope for better paid opportunities for two reasons.

Firstly, most people agree that we have an aging work population who with the abolition of the statutory retirement age and unease regarding the lack of pension provision may want to hang to their jobs. One option open to the oncoming retiring generation is an easing out of work through the reduction of their working week. This would reduce the impact of lost income to the individual and the loss of skills and soft knowledge to the company. Which in turn creates opportunities for succession planning and knowledge transfer to incomers. These could be possibly work returners such as mothers, people returning to work after illness or part time students eager to access skilled jobs and the terms and conditions that go with them.

Secondly, never has learning been as accessible as it is now. Scotland is a country that puts its money where its mouth is when it comes to training and education with grants for student attending University, College or training courses.  Add to this employability organisations like Community Works that help people into work or training and there are plenty of options available for someone wanting to upskill and get out of the trap of part time hours leading to low pay.

Community Works provides support for the people of Leith and North Edinburgh to reach their work-related goals.  To learn more about the education or training opportunities available give us a call on 0131 554 0403 or email