Changing face of voluntary sector workforce reveals need for skills and training investment
New statistics released today reveal the voluntary sector’s paid workforce as increasingly made up of temporary employees; growing numbers of people unable to work the hours they would like, and fewer staff benefitting from on-the-job training. In response, Skills – Third Sector is calling upon employers to prioritise investment in staff development and career planning, as a key strategy for succeeding in increasingly difficult operating circumstances.
The number of paid employees in the voluntary sector increased by approximately 18,000 over July to September 2012 – the latest period for which data is available via the quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS) – and by 69,000 over the 12 months previously. However, the latest LFS findings also reveal more insecure forms of employment in the sector, with higher levels of part-time work and lower levels of permanent employment than in other sectors.
Employees remain more likely to work on a part-time basis in the voluntary sector (37.4% of the workforce) than in either the public or the private sector, with the numbers doing so because they could not find a full-time job increasing by 15,000 (36%) over the past 12 months. The proportion of voluntary sector employees employed on a permanent basis (87.6% of the workforce) is also lower than in either the private sector or the public sector (94.3% and 92% respectively). Additionally, the number of employees who reported receiving training only during paid working hours decreased by nearly a quarter (24.8%) over the previous 12 months and the number of employees who reported receiving training in the four weeks leading up to survey fell by 11,000 (8.2%) compared with the previous quarter.
These latest Labour Force Survey findings were produced by Skills – Third Sector in partnership with the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). Skills -Third Sector is the registered charity working to make it easier for people who work and volunteer in charities and social enterprises to have the right skills to make a difference to people and their communities. The findings come as part of an ongoing study being conducted by these three organisations into overall voluntary sector workforce trends.
Keith Mogford, chief executive of Skills - Third Sector says: “The sector's overall workforce growth should not happen at the expense of long term investment in skilled people. If our sector is going to attract and retain talented people who will enable it to continue to deliver vital services to the communities we serve, it must demonstrate how it is investing intelligently in planned career pathways and the development of its staff in order to continue to meet the needs of service users.”
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, says: “Investing in staff development can seem like a luxury when time and money are tight, but it’s crucial to keep staff engaged and deliver the best services, and it needn’t be expensive. Taking online courses, joining networks, doing job swaps, and allowing staff time for volunteering can all help develop skills and bring new ideas to an organisation.”
Dame Mary Marsh is currently leading a review into leadership and skills in the voluntary sector, following her appointment by Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society, last October. The review is examining how effectively existing support is meeting the requirements of the sector, and voluntary sector organisations, and organisations working with them, are being actively encouraged to share ideas and experiences, and ask questions. To join the conversations, please visit: http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/content/dame-mary-marsh-social-sector-skills-leadership-review
The increase in the voluntary sector’s total number of employees represents an increase of 2.3% over the quarter and an increase of 9.6% over 12 months, although it still represents 2.7% of the total UK workforce. The latest estimates indicate a total of 793,000 paid employees working in the voluntary sector towards the end of last year.
Keith Mogford of Skills - Third Sector, and NCVO spokespeople are available for comment. An executive summary of the analysis is also available upon request.
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