Formal volunteering framework

A framework to support the third sector, and partners in the public and private sector to embed skills and development within formal volunteering opportunities.

Formal Volunteering Framework


Volunteering can provide invaluable learning and skills to help prepare people to move into employment, and help them succeed once they are in the workplace. This framework aims to support employers, organisations and volunteers to create purposeful volunteering experiences in which the volunteer has a clear learning journey and can identify the skills they will develop and how they can apply these to the wider labour market as they progress into permanent employment.

The framework has been developed in collaboration with key partners and stakeholders across local government, third and voluntary sectors, the Fair Work Convention and with young people themselves. It is built on five principles, underpinned by a number of objectives that are designed to be of mutual benefit to the volunteer, as well as the host organisation. There is also a specific focus on equalities, supporting those young people who are furthest away from the labour market and to achieving a positive outcome.

It forms part of a wider Scottish Government response to recommendations made by the Youth Volunteering Innovation Project (Youth VIP). In their report, Youth VIP recommended that the Scottish Government 'create a framework to support young people not in education, employment or training, to gain work-based skills and personal development through volunteering'. While the framework supports delivery of the Young Person's Guarantee, we recognise the crucial role volunteering plays in supporting anyone through their employability journey, and so this framework can be applied across all age groups.

The framework also builds on substantial work by the Scottish Government in collaboration with the Third and Private Sectors and Local Authorities through the Volunteering for All framework and action plan and Youth Volunteering Guidelines. These documents already provide extensive information for employers, organisations and volunteers, including highlighting the importance of offering diverse and inclusive placements and the benefits of including volunteers in the design of voluntary programmes. The framework supplements this work to offer further guidance to ensure volunteers are aided to develop valuable skills that can be utilised to support their future progression into employment.

Formal Volunteering Framework

Learning at the Core

  • Voluntary activity should be developed to the mutual benefit of the volunteer and the host organisation, supporting the volunteer to gain work-based skills and personal development.
  • Employers and organisations should outline a clear learning journey and skills profile for all volunteering placements.
  • Volunteering placements should offer transferable and sector specific skills, where applicable, that volunteers can utilise in employment.
  • If a qualification is available through the volunteering placement, volunteers should have a clear understanding of the steps required to acquire this.

Fairness and Integrity

  • Organisations hosting volunteers are to adhere to Fair Work First guidance and develop volunteering opportunities in accordance with national minimum wage legislation and guidance.
  • Volunteers are to be made aware of their rights as outlined in guidance and within the Volunteer Charter.
  • While volunteers are not paid for their time they will be reimbursed for out of pocket expenses such as travel costs.
  • Volunteers must not be used to fill or take away opportunities from fully paid workers or be used to meet resource shortfall.
  • Volunteers can expect to carry out their placement in an inclusive and flexible environment.
  • Volunteers should feel safe to provide feedback to the host on their placement.


  • Each volunteering placement should be tailored to the needs and goals of the volunteer and the host organisation.
  • Organisations should work with partners (e.g. equalities organisations) where possible to remove barriers, which may hinder different aspects of accessibility.
  • Particular focus should be on inclusion and equality of opportunity, supporting participants who face structural barriers to accessing and sustaining employment by ensuring placements seek to tackle occupational segregation, stereotyping, inaccessibility, etc.


  • Volunteers should have a clear understanding of how their role fits within the day-to-day business objectives of the host organisation.
  • At the end of the volunteering placement, volunteers should have a clear understanding of how the skills they have developed can be applied to the labour market or be built on through additional learning and qualifications.


  • Participants can access a diverse range of quality formal volunteering opportunities from multiple sectors.
  • Formal volunteering opportunities should be available across Scotland, including in remote and rural areas.



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