Tentative rise in voluntary sector employment
Employment in the voluntary sector has experienced its second consecutive quarterly rise.Latest analysis of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows that during the first three months of 2012the number of paid employees in the sector increased by approximately 20,000, representing an increase of 2.6% on the previous quarter and equating to a total of 779,000 paid employees.
This follows on from employment levels experiencing a slight recovery during the final quarter of 2011, according to earlier LFS analysis, with 36,000 employees entering the voluntary sector’s paid workforce between October and December 2011
These findings were produced by Skills –Third Sector with support from the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). Skills -Third Sector is the registered charity supporting the development of a workforce that is ambitious, skilled and adaptable in achieving the objectives of third sector organisations and the communities they serve. The findings come as part of an ongoing study being conducted by these three organisations into overall voluntary sector workforce trends.
Looking at the figures in more detail, however, reveals a more uncertain picture. The number of paid staff is still 5,000 lower than it was 12 months ago and remains significantly less than the all-time high of 806,000 employees in mid-2010. In addition to this, the latest figures indicate that the majority of the recent increase has been among male employees, with certain parts of the sector more affected than others, in particular social care, which has seen a marked decline in staff numbers over the past year. There has also been a considerable increase in the number of employees employed on a temporary basis in the voluntary sector.
Keith Mogford, chief executive of Skills – Third Sector says: “These findings show that we are above all a resilient sector, making a significant contribution to both the British economy as well as society. We are of course concerned that the headline figure belies a more complicated picture and would urge organisations in the sector to maintain their reputation as good places to work, with a clear commitment to the needs of their diverse staff.”
Sir Stuart Etherington, NCVO chief executive, says: “It is encouraging to see workforce levels once again inching up after last year’s steep decline, but the mixed fortunes across different parts of the sector give real cause for concern. In these challenging times, it is vital that voluntary organisations have a skilled and motivated workforce best equipped to support those most in need.”
The voluntary sector is a significant employer of paid staff and works with an even greater number of volunteers. However, many of the sector’s organisations say that 'skills gaps' impact negatively on their effectiveness and efficiency. So Skills – Third Sector have organised the Our People Our Skills Our Future skills and training conference in central London on 20 November 2012, at which Civil Society Minister Nick Hurd MP will be one of the keynote speakers, addressing how the proactive development of their workforce is critical to the success of charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations. For more information, please visit: http://www.skills-thirdsector.org.uk/news_media/conference/
- James McHugh, Skills – Third Sector’s knowledge manager, and NCVO spokespeople are available for comment. An executive summary of the analysis is also available upon request.
Notes to editors
- Skills – Third Sector is the charity supporting the development of a workforce that is ambitious, skilled and adaptable in achieving the objectives of third sector organisations and the communities they serve. For more information about its work, please visit: www.skills-thirdsector.org.uk
- The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) is the umbrella body for the voluntary sector in England, with sister councils in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. NCVO has over 8,400 members, ranging from large national bodies to community groups, volunteer centres, and development agencies working at a local level. With over 280,000 staff and over 13 million volunteers working for our members, we represent and support almost half the voluntary sector workforce. (www.ncvo-vol.org.uk)
- The Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC)exists to develop the research on, for and with the third sector in the UK. Led by the universities of Birmingham and Southampton, the Centre was established to provide a strong evidence base to inform policy-making and practice. TSRC works in collaboration with the third sector, to ensure its research reflects the realities of those working within it. (www.tsrc.ac.uk)
- Acknowledgement: we would like to thank ONS/NISRA as creators of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) data, and the UK Data Archive for supplying these data. LFS data are Crown Copyright. Neither the data creators nor the UK Data Archive bear any responsibility for their further analysis or interpretation.
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