New website charts the voluntary sector’s workforce

The latest intelligence charting the voluntary sector’s workforce since 2001 is now available in one place at UK Voluntary Sector Workforce Almanac 2013.

Skills- Third Sector has been working with NCVO and the Third Sector Research Centre to produce this easy-to-use and accessible resource which draws on a decade of authoritative data to explore how the sector’s workforce has changed.

The fifteen themes explore the main traits of voluntary sector employment, covering its size and characteristics, the nature of working conditions within the sector, and the levels of skills and training across the sector.

Keith Mogford, chief executive of Skills- Third Sector explains why this resource is so important:

“Charities, voluntary and community groups, social enterprises and their stakeholders need the best quality evidence base to help them inform policy and practice and plan for the future, ensuring these organisations have people with the right skills to be effective and resilient in meeting the changing needs of society.”

Key findings from the latest research include:

  • The voluntary sector’s workforce has decreased from 765,000 in the previous year to 732,00 in 2011. But the sector now employs more of the UK workforce than a decade ago, up from 2% to 2.6%.

  • The workforce is concentrated within health and social care organisations, with over six in ten employed in ‘health and social work’, and more than one-third of these employed in ‘social work activities without accommodation’.

  • The majority of the voluntary sector’s workforce is female. In 2011, 501,000 women were employed in the sector alongside 231,000 men. More than two-thirds (68%) of the workforce are women, contrasting with around one-third (39%) in the private sector.

  • Part-time work is a significant part of voluntary sector employment, with two-fifths (40%) employed part-time, a higher proportion than within the public and private sectors (30% and 25% respectively). Around half (47%) of women employed in the voluntary sector work part-time compared to almost a quarter (24%) of men.

  • Pay remains lower in the voluntary sector, with average weekly pay of £374, lower than in both the private and public sectors (£458 and £478 respectively).

  • Voluntary sector employees are highly qualified. Almost four in ten (38%) hold a degree level qualification or higher and more than seven in every ten (72%) hold an A Level qualification, its equivalent or higher.

  • 15% of voluntary sector employers report skills gaps, with the biggest gaps in administrative/clerical staff (33%) and managers (28%).


Learning Trade Skills is an independent charity set up to champion the skills needs of the staff, volunteers and trustees in charities, social enterprises and other not for profit organisations. We work with the sector’s organisations to provide information and resources; develop skills standards and qualifications; identify strategic priorities for workforce development; and work with others to generate solutions to workforce development needs. Skills – Third Sector is currently facilitating the co-design of The Skills Platform to build a digital marketplace that brings employers and trainers together.

NCVO champions and strengthens the voluntary sector, with over 10,000 members, from the largest charities to the smallest community organisations. For over 90 years, NCVO has brought the voluntary sector’s people together: to solve problems, address root causes, and inspire each other. NCVO’s research aims to support the development of policy and practice in the voluntary sector.

The Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) exists to develop the research on, for and with the third sector in the UK. Led by the universities of Birmingham and Southampton, the Centre was established to provide a strong evidence base to inform policy-making and practice. The Centre works in collaboration with the third sector, to ensure its research reflects the realities of those working within it. TSRC is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, Office for Civil Society and the Barrow Cadbury Trust.

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