Massive leap in number of charity workers as third sector overtakes banks for number of employees

The number of people working for a charity, voluntary organisation or community groups has rocketed in the past 10 years.

The UK Voluntary Sector Workforce Almanac 2007, published by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), showed an increase of 26% in the voluntary sector workforce to 611,000 employees – making it a bigger employer than the UK’s banks and building societies.

Other key findings include:

  • More than two-thirds (69%) of the voluntary sector workforce is female
  • Nearly one in five people (18%) working in the voluntary sector has a disability
  • Part-time employees account for 39% of voluntary sector employment – higher than in the public and private sectors
  • One-third of voluntary sector workers (32%) are employed in workplaces with less than 10 employees.

Janet Fleming, head of the NCVO’s Workforce Hub, said: “Our staff are more likely to be employed in social work in a professional capacity and to be highly skilled. We have a high proportion of employees who are female, working part-time hours and in small workplaces.”

“This presents both challenges and opportunities and means that it is imperative for employers to concentrate on the management of human resources and individual development. With planning and foresight, the growth already experienced will lead to an even more professional and competitive sector.”

A separate skills survey revealed a number of challenges for the sector’s employers with one-quarter reporting hard-to-fill vacancies within their organisation and skills gaps in IT, legal knowledge and fundraising.

Another study by the Association of Chief Executive of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo) found, for the first time, pay for chief executives at large charities has broken the £100,000 barrier.

Rising standards of pay were suggested across the sector as a whole, with the number of respondents earning less than £50,000 per year dropping from 53% in 2006 to 35% this year.

Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said: “These figures are good news for the sector. Increasing salary levels are a good indicator that the professionalism and quality of our leadership is being recognised.”

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