Sir Stuart Etherington has called on the government to relaunch the Future Jobs Fund after figures released in the latest Labour Force Survey show that voluntary sector employment has dropped by 5 per cent over the past twelve months.
The Labour Force Survey, produced by the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in partnership with Skills Third Sector shows that 38,000 paid employees have exited the sector since the second quarter of 2010.
Following a ‘flatline’ during the end of 2010 when the survey recorded approximately 793,000 paid employees for quarters three and four, the sector has now seen two consecutive quarters of decline resulting in a new tally of 768,000 people.
Changing pay and work patterns
In addition there has been a change in work patterns and pay with the number of part-time workers increasing by 13,000 to 302,000 over the past three months, and average hourly earnings dropping by 7 per cent from £10.87 to £10.14.
Commenting on the survey results, NCVO chief executive Sir Stuart (pictured) told civilsociety.co.uk that the government should step in to assist the sector:
"NCVO research has shown that staff costs are 37 per cent of the sector's expenditure. Amidst a perfect storm of rising demands, cuts in government funding and steeply rising utility and other costs, many organisations have found themselves in the unenviable position of having to make staff redundant to adjust to some harsh new realities.
"Whilst greater reliance upon volunteers and the goodwill of staff on reduced contracts can make up some of the shortfall in the sector's capacity I think we have to be realistic: the sector's ability to meet increased levels of need in many areas has been compromised.
"Now seems an excellent time for government to rethink programmes such as the Future Jobs Fund so that we can help those looking for work and meet the challenges faced by wider society," he said.
Future Jobs Fund was Acevo initiative
The £1bn Future Jobs Fund was devised by umbrella body Acevo, which will move into NCVO offices in March, and launched in 2009 by the Department for Work and Pensions to support the creation of jobs. By March 2011 it will have funded 100,000 jobs, however it was closed as part of the government's 'efficiency savings' in May 2010. It had originally aimed to create 150,000 jobs.
Keith Mogford, interim chief executive of Skills Third Sector, added that the sector also has a responsibility to identify where it can improve itself:
"Following a decade of growth the sector should be drawing government's attention to the risks inherent in this trend and I'm sure many of the sector's leaders are already doing so. However there is also an opportunity for the sector to assess the impact of this downward trend in more detail - to assess if and how it is exacerbating skills gaps, leading to wider HR pressures, and the sector's ability to deliver high quality services in the face of rising demand," he said.