Volunteering is an important and intrinsic part of Irish society. Ireland is home to one of the largest volunteer led sporting organisations in the world and has strong volunteer links with organisations such as the Special Olympics.  The European Parliament will vote this week to ensure that volunteer organisations are not hampered by excessive red tape in accessing resources and to increase the mobility of volunteers though a “European Skills Passport.”

Liam Aylward MEP for Ireland East and a Member of the European Parliament Committee on Culture, Education and Sport worked directly on the Report and has welcomed its ambitious scope.

According to the Ireland East MEP volunteers have a wide skill set that should be formally recognised:

“Over 100 mullion people volunteer regularly across Europe and people of all ages are participating in volunteering in the fields of education, culture, youth policies, sport, the environment, sustainable development, health and rights advocacy.  With this investment in our society and our community comes experience and skills and the proposed “European Skills Passport” relating to skills acquired through volunteering will improve the mobility of volunteers and create a vital link between non-formal learning, formal learning and employment.”

As ALDE political group’s negotiator on the previous European Parliament Report on “A European Dimension on Sport”, the MEP put a particular emphasis on coach education and training and the transferability of these skills.

“I am particularly pleased that my recommendations in relation to a training and qualifications framework for coaching and sports volunteers were supported in the Report.  It is important that the investment in time and resources that goes into training coaches is recognised and the skills gained are transferable.”

The Report also recommends that the European Commission and Member States allow volunteer time to be included as co-funding in all EU funded programmes on the basis of a contribution in-kind with a financial value.

“Given the investment communities and volunteer organisations put into projects in terms of time, commitment and skills, the recommendation for the recognition of this ‘benefit in kind’ could translate to significant gains for the voluntary sector and is a recommendation the European Commission needs to seriously consider in its future programmes.”

The Report will be voted on in the European Parliament on Tuesday 12th June.