The government of the United States of America is starting to look at volunteer work as a way to boost efficiency.
Last week, the White House issued an executive order stating that government agencies must focus on improving their volunteer opportunities for citizens. According to the president, using more volunteers to accomplish tasks will not only help public servants with their workload, but also provide volunteers a way to gain experience and advance their careers.
Through this initiative, agencies can “utilize the American spirit of service to improve lives and communities, expand economic and educational opportunities, enhance agencies’ capacity to achieve their missions, efficiently use tax dollars [and] help individuals develop skills that will enable them to prepare for long-term careers.”
Is this something the government of Canada should consider doing?
The government is already a driver of several volunteer initiatives. CIDA’s International Youth Internship Program offers volunteer positions to graduates under the age of 30 in Canada and abroad. Meanwhile, Youth Services helps young people find volunteer positions in hospitals, political campaigns, and international development organizations, among others.
Recruiting volunteers for work in the federal government seems like a logical step, for the same reasons stated in President Obama’s executive order. The federal government has recently laid off thousands of public servants – would recruiting volunteers be a cheap way of replacing paid labour?
With that in mind, there are a few things the government should take into consideration should they choose to implement such an initiative.
What kind of tasks will volunteers be assigned? Will they need security clearance to volunteer? If so, is it a good idea to give them access to confidential records? What will the volunteers get out of the experience? Will the work be full-time or part-time, and will there be opportunities for employment when they’re done?
Should the government start recruiting volunteers across all departments? Let us know in the comments.