Volunteering your way into the job market

Creating opportunities for recent graduates to contribute to partner organisation priorities, as well as gain professional skills and experience.

Mar 2021 - June 2023
A chess board with figurines


Our Southern Africa team is exploring the possibility of creating a new model of volunteering.

The project plans to provide young, local graduates with the opportunity to gain professional skills and build relationships with potential employers. In doing so, the graduates will also contribute to partner organisations goals and improve their access to young talent.

Through consultations, the team has found two current program organisations interested in testing the new model: Probono.org and Refugee Social Services.

Our objectives

  • Explore what an ideal work experience journey would be for partners and graduates, including requirements, risks, and possible barriers associated with undertaking a new volunteer model.
  • Learn how local volunteering can support both partner organisations and graduates' needs while contributing to each group's long term goals.
  • Allow young graduates to gain work experience, develop new skills and be better prepared for the world of work.

Our approach

This project underwent a thorough process of co-design, with several young people and partner organisations actively participating in discussions to exchange ideas and thoughts.

The Southern Africa team, with the support of the Innovation Hub, conducted a series of prototyping activities based on the feedback of the students and partner organisations. Prototyping was seen as a low-risk activity to test the assumptions of those involved.

Partner organisations, Probono.org and Refugee Social Services, were selected to trial the final version of the prototype. While the partner organisations will manage the volunteers, the Southern Africa team will provide additional support such as:

  • creation of the Youth Peer Support Network, a peer support for a group of young people
  • professional support for career development
  • professional and personal learning opportunities

The Southern Africa team will also be working together with the partner organisation and the youth peer support network in monitoring, evaluation and learning activities. This will help the team keep track of the progress of each assignment, while also capturing stories to gain valuable learnings in the further design of this model.

What we learned

  • New graduates have a strong desire to gain practical skills and opportunities.
  • Partners are keen to support young graduates and to support the career development of young people.
  • Bringing in new groups to the innovation process continues to create new ideas and ways of working.

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