Skills - Third Sector sets up four skills networks

It hopes the skills consortia will build on the work of Capacitybuilders, soon to be abolished

Julie Wilkes, chief executive of Skills - Third Sector
Julie Wilkes, chief executive of Skills - Third Sector

Skills - Third Sector is establishing four consortia to improve skills and learning in the voluntary sector.

The skills body, which was established with £2.5m of government funding three years ago, hopes the initiative will enable the sector to train staff at a time when funding is tight.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the local infrastructure body Navca and the think tank New Philanthropy Capital are among those supporting the project.

Organisations will collaborate in four 'skills networks', covering volunteer management, governance and leadership, skills for business, and measuring effectiveness and impact. They will identify gaps in skills and share learning.

Julie Wilkes, chief executive of Skills - Third Sector, which was founded as a charity in 2009, told Third Sector that initial meetings of all four networks had already taken place.

She said she hoped the networks would build on the work of the infrastructure quango Capacitybuilders, which is being abolished next month.

"We have just had 10 years of really strong investment in infrastructure," said Wilkes. "There is an incredible amount of resources on learning development out there. We want to continue that."

Wilkes said she hoped to secure funding from the public and voluntary sectors.

Even if no public funding was forthcoming, she said, the sector needed to invest more in skills training. "Unfortunately, it has been lulled into thinking the government will step in and pay for its learning needs," she said.

Skills - Third Sector's initial three-year funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Office for Civil Society expires next month, but Wilkes said ministers had assured her further funding would be awarded.

Organisations involved in the skills networks:

  • Volunteer management: Skills - Third Sector, Volunteering England and the Association of Volunteer Managers
  • Governance and leadership:  Skills - Third Sector, the Charity Trustee Network and governance experts
  • Measuring effectiveness and impact: Skills - Third Sector, New Philanthropy Capital, Charities Evaluation Services
  • Skills for business: Skills - Third Sector, Voluntary Action Sheffield, Navca, Sheffield Hallam University, Social Investment Business, Community Accountancy National Network and Sheffield City Council

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