Are Volunteers Competent in Positive Youth Development? Perceptions From Three Stakeholder Groups

Dustin Homan, Hannah K. Epley, Kirk L. Bloir

Abstract


Some youth organizations entrust adult volunteers with delivering programs and forging relationships with youth clientele. As a result, volunteers should be competent in certain knowledge, skills, and abilities that catalyze positive youth development processes to occur. This research expands upon the results of an initial study designed to address shortcomings of a volunteer competency framework. Our objective for this study was to assess and compare the discrepancies between importance and ability-to-perform ratings of adult volunteers across 6 competency areas from the Volunteer Research Knowledge Competency Taxonomy. Over 10,000 youth professionals, adult volunteers, and families of youth members responded to an online survey. Respondents rated the importance of, and volunteers’ performance in the 6 competency areas; they also provided input about the modalities they preferred for delivering training and resources. Performance means varied across the 3 groups: Volunteers’ overall performance means were the highest, followed by families, and then professionals. Mean weighted discrepancy scores were calculated to compare the importance and performance rankings across respondent groups. Based on the scores, future volunteer trainings and resources should be prioritized around the competency areas of organization, positive youth development, program management, and communication. Volunteers also preferred more self-directed approaches for future trainings. Results from this study suggest that the volunteer competency taxonomy is still a valid framework and affirms other youth worker competency frameworks. The results also help establish a baseline of data that can be used to see if future training interventions and resources are perceived as effective.


Keywords


volunteer management; competency; performance; training

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5195/jyd.2020.742

Copyright (c) 2020 Dustin Homan, Hannah K. Epley, Kirk L. Bloir

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