Third sector workforce expands by 26% in 10 years

The number of paid workers in the voluntary sector has increased by more than a quarter over a 10-year period, according to research released today.

The UK Voluntary Sector Workforce Almanac 2007, published by the Workforce Hub, shows that the sector grew from 483,000 employees in 1996 to 611,000 by the end of 2005 - an increase of 26 per cent. The rise means that the voluntary sector accounts for 2 per cent of all UK employees.

The growth outstrips expansion in the public and private sectors, which have increased their staff levels by 14 and 11 per cent respectively during the same period.

"There appears to be no sign of this expansion slowing down, particularly in light of the sector's expanding role in public service delivery," the report says.

"While this brings opportunities, it can also bring threats. Ensuring that the sector has the employment policies and practices in place to support this growth is vital to the sustainability of the sector."

The sector also has a far higher proportion of part-time employees, 39 per cent, than do the public and private sectors, which have 29 and 23 per cent respectively.

Key points

  • Almost a third (32 per cent) of UK voluntary sector employees live in London or south-east England.
  • Social work accounts for the jobs performed by 54 per cent of the sector's workforce.
  • More than two-thirds (69 per cent) of the workforce is female.
  • Nearly one in five (18 per cent) of voluntary sector employees has a disability, compared with 13 per cent in the private sector.
  • In 2005, a total of 52,000 people were employed in the voluntary sector on temporary contracts.

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