Volunteering should be taken more seriously by employers when they are recruiting new staff, it has been claimed.

According to the youth volunteering organisation V, a number of key skills can be acquired through volunteer work which could be extremely useful to employers.

Its Discovering Talent – Developing Skills report revealed that 87 per cent of employers believe volunteering is a valuable activity.

Despite this, a quarter think the volunteering experience of job applicants is irrelevant.

"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," said V chief executive Terry Ryall.

V believes team work, communication and self-confidence are some of the main skills that are developed through volunteer work.

Volunteer numbers in England and Wales have fallen over the last three years, according to the government’s 2007-2008 Citizenship Survey.

The Guardian reports that charity experts believe the sector needs a radical "facelift" to attract more young people into volunteering projects.