Training and development demanded for third sector
There is a distinct lack of staff in the voluntary sector benefitting from on-the-job training, new statistics released today has found.
The study unveiled today by the Skills - Third Sector in partnership with the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has revealed that employees who reported receiving training during working hours has fallen by nearly a quarter in the last 12 months. Additionally, the number of employees who reported receiving training in the four weeks leading up to the survey has fallen by 11,000 (8.2 per cent).
In response, Skills - Third Sector is calling on employers to prioritise investment in staff training and development as a key strategy to help succeed in difficult circumstances. The findings come as part of an ongoing study conducted into voluntary sector workforce trends.
Dame Mary Marsh is currently leading a review into leadership and skills in the voluntary sector, following her appointment by Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society, last October. The review is examining how effectively existing support is meeting the requirements of the sector, and voluntary sector organisations, and organisations working with them, are being actively encouraged to share ideas and experiences, and ask questions.
The research found that the number of paid employees in the voluntary sector increased by approximately 18,000 over July- to September 2012 - the latest period for which data is available via the quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS) - and by 69,000 over the 12 months previously. However, the latest LFS findings also reveal more insecure forms of employment in the sector, with higher levels of part-time work and lower levels of permanent employment than in other sectors.
Keith Mogford, chief executive of Skills - Third Sector, said: "The sector's overall workforce growth should not happen at the expense of long term investment in skilled people. If our sector is going to attract and retain talented people who will enable it to continue to deliver vital services to the communities we serve, it must demonstrate how it is investing intelligently in planned career pathways and the development of its staff in order to continue to meet the needs of service users."
Interestingly, employees remain more likely to work on a part-time basis in the voluntary sector (37.4 per cent of the workforce) than in either the public or the private sector, with the numbers doing so because they could not find a full-time. The proportion of voluntary sector employees employed on a permanent basis (87.6 per cent of the workforce) is also lower than in either the private sector or the public sector (94.3 per cent and 92 per cent respectively).
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, added: "Investing in staff development can seem like a luxury when time and money are tight, but it's crucial to keep staff engaged and deliver the best services, and it needn't be expensive. Taking online courses, joining networks, doing job swaps, and allowing staff time for volunteering can all help develop skills and bring new ideas to an organisation."