THE BLOG

Cameron Wants to Force Youths to Volunteer. For Once, I Agree With Him

19/02/2015 17:50 GMT | Updated 21/04/2015 10:59 BST

I've always believed making someone do something against their will is never conducive. However, when I heard David Cameron's proposal to make unemployed youths volunteer for 30 hours a week in return for claiming benefits, I had to admit he was onto something.

Before I'm chastised and taken down on Twitter - I believe 30 hours may be a tad extreme, but it is a great idea.

We've all seen the research showing the elderly are getting lonelier, charities are desperate for support, and youths are lacking in skills and experience. There's also nothing more soul-destroying than the prospect of having weeks and weeks of empty nothingness stretching ahead of you, and simply not being able to get a job - however hard you try.

Applicants have to tick more and more boxes when they're applying for jobs, with employers giving your CV a mere eight seconds of attention before they decide yay or nay. If I was an employer presented with identical job applications, except one candidate had volunteering experience and the other didn't, I sure know who I'd pick.

Why not connect our young people with charities and older generations, meanwhile equipping them with the communication, teamwork and God knows however many other skills they need to get jobs? Why not give them the chance to boost their CVs and learn invaluable life lessons about punctuality, work attire and networking?

They're certainly not getting those skills in school - a whopping 93% of young people aren't getting the careers advice they need, so how are they supposed to know how to converse with a manager, or how to build their social skills, or realise that you never get a second chance to make a first impression?

Volunteering also offers the chance to find out your strengths - and your weaknesses - and more importantly, where your passions lie, without the price tag of a training course.

Not only that, but the rewards of volunteering are endless; there's nothing quite like the feeling of helping someone else - for free.

Research published in 2014 revealed three million 10 to 20 year olds had taken part in volunteering during that year. So why don't we give everyone else the chance to try it out too?

You never know, they might even like it.