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  • Writer's pictureCarlton Gajadhar

Re-imagining your volunteers

Updated: Apr 24, 2021

Speaking to many museums and tourist attractions recently it has come to my attention that budgets, staffing & restructuring departments, are some of the biggest issues haunting tourist attractions now. On the other side, universities are struggling to find work experience opportunities for their students.

So, having conversations about volunteering staff at museums and attractions is a hot topic now, which is quite interesting as most believe that majority of volunteers are retired individuals who may not return to their beloved attractions pre- and post-pandemic.

So how do we fill up the gap of volunteers in museums and tourist attractions which play a vital part in staffing, so attractions can open for visitors to continue learning and sharing experiences?

Universities are struggling to find placements especially short-term work placements for students who are studying tourism and hospitality, who may not have the basic skill set to get into a junior role due to lack of experience and opportunities.

So why not use students to fill up your volunteer's staffing? I think this is a solution where everyone helps each other but need some setup from both attractions and universities.

Here are some benefits of setting up your volunteers staffing with students:

1. Students working at a tourist attraction may count towards their university degree

2. Attracting diverse individuals who would not necessarily get an opportunity or exposure to working in tourist attractions.

3. Students will have hands-on experience in working in a busy tourist attraction, giving them unforgettable and memorable teamwork experiences.

4. Potentially converting them from voluntary to full-time staff members

5. Able to train and develop young people in the industry by creating a work experience programme.

6. Work with the University, to create a sense of partnership and giving back to the community

7. Attractions will learn unusual ways of communicating and outlooks that the younger generations are engaged with, tapping into latest information and trends about audiences.

Universities do have specific employability frameworks that students need to follow to get them ready to work after studies. Attractions can play a big part in getting students prepared for that. I know that the University of Lincoln has an employability program called the Lincoln Award, which includes 20 hours of voluntary experience to qualify for the award.

The cost of running this voluntary programme may include a staff room, free refreshments, a name badge and training time.

Partnering with universities and tourist attractions is a solution to filling up voluntary staffing at attractions. I would recommend researching local universities and colleges in your area and reaching out to see how you both can create a partnership to help both the student's careers development as well as the organisation outreach programmes. The department you will need to ask for is employability and careers.

If you need more advice, please feel free to contact Carlton Gajadhar at

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