Leadership and skills review calls for graduate training scheme for the voluntary sector

One recommendation of the working group, led by Dame Mary Marsh, says a programme similar to Teach First should be developed to attract young talent

Dame Mary Marsh
Dame Mary Marsh

The voluntary sector should develop a graduate training scheme to create clearer career pathways for young people, a review led by Dame Mary Marsh has concluded.  

The review, commissioned by the Cabinet Office, looked at skills and leadership in the voluntary sector and has today published its findings on a new website, www.leadingsocial.org.uk

The review identified three overarching themes: the importance of personal responsibility in personal development, the sector’s responsibility for developing people and making the most of potential and the existence of specific skills gaps in the sector.

It also drew up reports on eight specific issues: strengthening governance, attracting and developing leaders, routes into and through the social sector, skills sharing, digital fluency, data-informed social change, enterprise capability and collaboration in the social sector.

The eight issues were identified by a working group through consultation with the sector and each report provides recommendations for the sector and the government.

The report on routes through and into the sector makes recommendations for the development of a graduate scheme similar to Teach First, a charity that coordinates employment-based teacher training for graduates, to attract talented young people to the sector and help them forge careers in it.

The report on digital fluency make recommendations for government and sector bodies to support technology training and skill-sharing because "the level of digital fluency is not nearly as high as it needs to be" in the sector. It warns that there are "massive risks" for organisations that fail to take steps towards becoming digitally fluent. 

The review’s report on data-informed social change, led by review group member Karl Wilding, head of policy and research at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, recommends that the sector should identify where data is held and develop a voluntary sector data store so that it can be used to its full potential.

Marsh said: "This is a critical time for organisations that need to develop their skills and leadership to enable them to deal with challenges and respond to opportunities.

"The social sector is full of talented and experienced individuals, and there are many examples of best practice out there. Our hope for www.leadingsocial.org is that it will become a space where organisations can learn from each other."

Marsh, founding director of the Clore Social Leadership Programme and a former chief executive of NSPCC, was appointed by the Cabinet Office to lead a working group in October.

Her working group included Wilding and Ralph Michell, director of policy at the chief executives body Acevo and Gareth Matthews, business director for Serco's welfare services.

The website will be maintained by the charity Skills -Third Sector, which supports the development of the voluntary sector workforce.

A statement from Skills -Third Sector said the site had been designed so that people in the voluntary sector can share knowledge and ideas and enable discussion about skills gaps.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, said: "I am particularly pleased to see that this review has looked at how we attract, develop and retain talent in the sector and the need for greater use of digital and data-informed approaches to support more effective and efficient delivery."

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