12 November 2012

The voluntary sector’s paid workforce experienced a slight fall in the second quarter of this year. Latest analysis of the Labour Force Survey (LFS) shows that the number of paid employees in the sector decreased by approximately 4,000 over March to June 2012. This represents a decrease of just 0.6% on the previous quarter and takes the number of paid employees to a total of 775,000 during the mid-point of 2012.

The findings also provide further evidence of a long-term increase in non-standard forms of work in the sector. In the latest available figures, which cover the second quarter of 2012, the number of voluntary sector workers employed on a temporary basis increased by 18% over the last 12 months to 98,000 temporary workers. Worryingly, over the last quarter, the proportion of employees working part-time because they could not find full-time employment increased by 21%. Now nearly one-fifth (18%) of the 289,000 part-time workers in the voluntary sector are doing so because they could not find a full-time job.

These latest findings were produced by Skills – Third Sector in partnership with the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO). Skills -Third Sector is the registered charity working to make it easier for people who work and volunteer in charities and social enterprises to have the right skills to make a difference to people and their communities. The findings come as part of an ongoing study being conducted by these three organisations into overall voluntary sector workforce trends.

Keith Mogford, chief executive of Skills – Third Sector says: “These findings show that whilst the numbers employed by the sector are beginning to stabilise, the working conditions in the sector are changing. Increasing flexibility of employment may well be a rational response to the current state of the economy and funding uncertainty. However, we are concerned that such changes may stifle the ability of employers in the sector to invest in the skills needed to overcome challenges over the long-term and to improve the strategic direction of their organisation.”

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO says: “Workforce numbers are a key indicator of the health of the charity sector. Today’s figures are a tentative sign that employment is stabilising after the sudden decline that shook the sector last year. Nevertheless it’s clear from the increases in temporary contracts and in those working part-time who would prefer to work full-time that many organisations are still dealing with challenging and uncertain financial futures.”

More: see workforce research