Increase in number of voluntary sector workers 'hides a darker picture'

Too many organisations are uninterested in the talent at their disposal and neglect long-term investment, says Graham Leigh of Skills - Third Sector

Graham Leigh
Graham Leigh

The latest voluntary sector workforce figures "hide a darker picture" of low job security, according to training organisation Skills – Third Sector.

Earlier this month, an analysis of the government's quarterly Labour Force Survey by three organisations, including Skills – Third Sector, showed that the number of voluntary sector workers rose by almost 10 per cent, to 793,000, in the year to the end of September, compared with the same period in 2010/11.

Speaking at an event on leadership organised by the Resource Alliance in London this week, Graham Leigh, director of communications at Skills – Third Sector, said the figures showed why employers should prioritise investment in staff development and career planning.

"They show rising employment at the same time as falling growth," he said. "Employment is high, but job security is low. There has been a shift to short-term, part-time and temporary employment.

"These figures hide a much darker picture for some in the sector."

Leigh said wage growth for the sector was at an average of 1.4 per cent, compared with inflation of 2.7 per cent.

Recruitment costs charities about £2,000 per person and £6,000 per middle-management position, he said. But the third sector spends an average of only £121 per person on training.

"It shows organisations are not interested in the talent they have," he said. "Short-term aims are triumphing over long-term investment."

He recommended that charities come up with creative ways of developing skills, such as running joint training programmes and working together to overcome costs.

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