Employers have been urged to place more value on volunteering in their recruitment process and promote it as an effective tool for staff development.
The Discovering talent - Developing skills report, by youth volunteering organisation V, draws on evidence to show how volunteering in community projects can help young people develop self-confidence, communication and team work skills.
The report also shows how volunteering can help engage young people who are not in education, employment or training and provide a route back into training or employment.
A recent V survey found that, while 87% of employers agreed that volunteering was 'a valuable activity that could have a positive effect on career progression', this was not borne out in recruitment practices. One in four HR departments said it was irrelevant whether a candidate had volunteered.
V's chief executive Terry Ryall said: "Volunteering can tap into young people's hidden talents and provide a gateway into education and employment. At a time when employers say staff lack soft skills, they should look to volunteering as a means of preparing new recruits for the workplace."
The charity is also urging Jobcentre Plus staff to take a more positive view of volunteering. In some instances, it said full-time volunteers experienced difficulties with their benefits, which could result in a young person giving up volunteering altogether, rather than moving into work.