Executive Summary

The UK voluntary sector workforce has experienced significant growth over the past decade. This reflects the considerable investment which has been made into the sector and its organisations to deliver services to a range of communities and individuals. However, the voluntary sector workforce has also started to feel some of the effects of economic austerity.

The voluntary sector’s workforce decreased in 2011
In 2011, there were 732,000 people employed in the UK voluntary sector, down from 765,000 the previous year. The sector now employs around 2.6% of the UK workforce compared to 2% in 2001. In 2011, the voluntary sector employed an estimated 583,000 full-time equivalent paid staff (LFS).

Voluntary sector employees are concentrated in London and the South-East
More than a third (36%) of voluntary sector workers lived either in London or the South-East in 2011. More then eight out of every ten (84%) employees in the sector were based in England, with just under 10% living in Scotland (LFS).

The workforce is concentrated within health and social care organisations
Over six in ten employees in the voluntary sector workforce were employed in ‘health and social work’ equating to 441,000 people. Within this, more than one-third (39%) of the sector’s workforce were employed in ‘social work activities without accommodation’ equating to 281,000 people (LFS).

The majority of the voluntary sector’s workforce is female
In 2011, 501,000 were employed in the voluntary sector alongside 231,000 men. More than two-thirds (68%) of the voluntary sector workforce are women which compares with the public sector (65%) but contrasts with the private sector (39%) (LFS).

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

One tenth of voluntary sector employees are on temporary contracts Just over one tenth (89%) of voluntary sector employees were on permanent contracts – higher than both the public and private sectors (5% and 8% respectively). Of those employees on temporary contracts, 31% were on a contract lasting less than one year (LFS).

Pay remains lower in the voluntary sector
Gross weekly pay in the voluntary sector amounted to an average of £373.65 in 2011, lower than in both the private and public sectors (£457.52 and £477.53). Gross hourly pay in the voluntary sector was £12.02, slightly less than in the private sector (£12.60) and significantly less than in the public sector (£14.20) (LFS).

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

Fewer voluntary sector employers report skills gaps
The proportion of employers who reported having staff with skills gaps is lower in the voluntary sector (15%) than in both the private sector (18%) and public sector (20%). Voluntary sector employers were most likely to report gaps for administrative/clerical staff (33%) and managers (28%) (UKCES).

Senior staff are the most likely to receive training
Just under one-fifth (18%) of employers provided no training at all. 70% of voluntary organisations stated that they trained managers whilst only 17% trained elementary positions (UKCES).

Formal volunteering has increased 
In 2010/11, 39% of people formally volunteered at least once in the previous year with 25% formally volunteering at least once in the previous month (Citizenship Survey). This has risen to 44% (once a year) and 29% (once a month) during the period in August 2012-January 2013 (Community Life Survey).