Skills acquired through volunteering should be more clearly recognised by both employers and the government.
With many firms facing funding restrictions on their training and development budgets during the recession, a volunteering group and think-tank have called for the acquisition of skills and volunteering to become more closely aligned.
Ian Mulheirn, director of the Social Market Foundation, added: "In the wake of the worst recession experienced in decades, and with many organisations still struggling to fund training and development for staff, there has never been a better time to explore and recognise the potential of skills-based employee volunteering schemes."
One in five volunteers is thought to undertake unpaid work specifically to develop their skills, research by The Scout Association has found.
Wayne Bulpitt, chief commissioner of The Scout Association, said: "Enabling staff to volunteer is a cost-effective way of teaching a wide variety of skills which will be beneficial to businesses.
"Helping employers and government better recognise the role that volunteering can play in improving skills is fundamental. Lifting one of the main barriers preventing growth, not only of Scouting, but countless voluntary organisations across Britain, will improve the health of our society and the strength of our national economy."
Yesterday the new president of the Public Sector People Managers' Association (PPMA), Dean Shoesmith, called on HR to not cut back on skills investment.