Three new reports on partnership working between faith and local government.

Voluntary sector workforce larger than original estimate, claims report

New research into employment in the charity sector suggests that it has more employees than was previously thought.

The Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) used data from the 2008 National Survey of Third Sector Organisations (NSTSO) to estimate that there were over 1.1 million full-time equivalent employees in England in 2008, comprising just over 5 per cent of the workforce.

This is higher than the previous estimates calculated using data from the quarterly Labour Force Survey (LFS), results from which for the final quarter of 2011 stated the sector’s total workforce as 759,000, an increase from 750,000 in 2008.

TSRC suggests that if the LFS figure for 2008 is in fact lower than the reality, then it follows that the number for 2011 number falls short, too.

A spokesperson from TSRC’s Knowledge Exchange Team insisted that this research does not supplant the Labour Force Survey, but rather highlights the importance of thinking about different studies and the information they are likely to capture. “The NSTSO is likely to capture a broader range of organisations,” she said. “It surveyed organisations in England that could be ‘seen to serve social, cultural and environmental objectives’, whereas the LFS asks individuals if they work for a ‘charity, voluntary organisation or trust’.

“However, this does not discount the usefulness of the LSF. It has been carried out on a quarterly basis for nearly 20 years, allowing us to reliably measure growth in employment as well as the characteristics of those working in the sector.”

TSRC’s findings have been collated into the document The regional distribution of employees in the third sector in England: estimates from the National Survey of Third Sector Organisations (NSTSO) by Frida Geyne-Rajme and John Mohan.

Uneven regional distribution

The NSTSO, carried out for the first time in 2008, also analysed the regional distribution of voluntary sector employees.

London has at least a 25 per cent share of the entire sector’s employment in England, followed by the south east, with 17 per cent. Much of this can be explained by the number of head offices based in those two regions.
The research also looks at the share of employment accounted for by the sector in each national region. In London, the sector accounts for nearly 10 per cent cent of employees, compared to 5.6 per cent nationally. In the East Midlands it accounts for just over a third.

In regions generally considered to be more disadvantaged – such as the north east, Yorkshire and Humber and the north west – the area’s share of voluntary sector employment is less than its share of total employment. "This raises questions about whether the sector can provide substantial job opportunities in areas of disadvantage," the spokesperson commented.

John Mohan, co-author of the above research paper and deputy director of TSRC, added: “Of course the purpose of voluntary organisations is to respond to social needs and not primarily to create employment.

“However, given that many large organisations receive funding from supporters located across the country, the concentration of employment in London and the south east seems to be reproducing regional inequalities which are evident elsewhere in the economy. Given this evidence it is worth asking whether some of the sector's functions could be relocated from London, as has happened already with many public sector jobs.”

This article was taken from www.civilsociety.co.uk – http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/governance/news/content/12585