Justice charities face skills shortage

Charities providing services to the justice sector risk being left behind if a skills shortage across a raft of areas is not addressed, the body responsible has warned.

An audit of more than 500 community-based voluntary organisations working in the justice sector carried out by sector skills council Skills for Justice has revealed gaps in knowledge in a number of areas.

The survey showed that small organisations lacked skills in change and risk management, financial issues, commercial skills, race and diversity issues and multi-agency working.

Dick Winterton, chief executive of Skills for Justice, said fresh ways of providing services meant small charities could be left behind.

“There is increased emphasis on new ways of working,” he said. “All this requires new ways of managing; for example you need to manage people who are not under your direct control but provided by another organisation.

“If the large organisations are able to provide the appropriate training and professionalism is advanced with them the danger that I perceive is that the third sector is left behind,” he warned.

“The ways that these organisations work is often looser than large organisations so it is often difficult to access training or get the funding they need for it,” he added.

The survey is part of a wider exercise by the government-appointed body to develop a strategy to drive up skills levels in the sector.

The body would be lobbying the Home Office and the Department for Education and Skills for funding to tackle the shortfalls.

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