Volunteering abroad is a life changing experience. VSO’s training programme enables you to meet fellow volunteers, broaden your understanding of international development, and help you adapt to living and working in a new environment.

Education training volunteer, Rwanda

VSO’s training programme uses a blended learning approach which includes elements of self-briefing, e-learning and residential courses.

"I came with so many questions and uncertainties and all of those were answered. The trainers were so knowledgeable and answered every question we had. They arranged everything so brilliantly and the topics were so detailed but also very interesting. - Amy, VSO volunteer who attended training in August 2015


‘Volunteering Starts Here’ is our online self-briefing course that gives volunteers insight into the realities of volunteering in a development context.

Residential weekend

Depending on your country of residence, you may be invited to a residential training weekend.

For UK-based volunteers, our weekend residential course ‘Skills for Working in Development’ (SKWID) covers working in a cross cultural context. The training is fun and interactive, and is delivered by our friendly training team – many of whom have extensive experience of working overseas.

A recent attendee commented, "the SKWID course was excellent, the facilitators were fantastic and really did a great job of getting the most out of all the participants and giving us all plenty of food for thought."

Pre-departure orientation

Before departure, you can begin to learn the local language of your host country through audio language resources on our learning hub, connect with serving and returned volunteers through forum discussions, and read other self-briefing materials.

In-country training

To support your adaptation and settling in, a detailed in-country orientation is provided upon arrival by the local VSO country office.

Part of your in-country training may include further language training which can last for anywhere between two weeks and three months.

Discover the inside story of volunteer training:

The VSO volunteer journey & residential weekend: a personal reflection