Training the sector

2 September 2010 | By Cause4 staff

A recent report by the Institute of Volunteering Research has highlighted the lack of formal training currently being undertaken within the Third Sector. Its paper Valuing Volunteer Management points out, for instance, that 42% of people managing volunteers have undergone no formal training. Furthermore, 57% of organisations surveyed ‘have difficulties recruiting volunteers with the right skills,’ with notable skills gaps identified in the areas of ‘ IT, legal knowledge and fundraising.’ These figures highlight major challenges within the sector, not only in attracting the very best talent but in spending time and resource in nurturing and developing it.

The paucity of entry points for graduates into the charitable sector is also a matter of concern. An NCVO report on Career Pathways for Graduates in the Community/Voluntary Sector states that ‘charities do not really use designated graduate programmes as a pathway into the sector, largely because charities will generally recruit for specific jobs rather than take on new staff with a view to training and developing them.’ Nick Aldridge, Director of Strategy and Communications at the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), explains that ‘there is not a culture of Continuous Professional Development (within the sector) and this is something that has to change.’ According to Judith Lovelace, Senior Consultant at CF Appointments, even when graduates do arrive into the sector without any organised career progression ‘many of them are in low-grade administrative jobs, become bored within six months and move on.’

It is clear that many graduates are naturally drawn towards the voluntary sector but that most struggle to find affordable ways of experiencing internships which provide both the necessary experience and that invaluable ‘foot in the door’. As such, it seems essential that the sector provides more formal hands-on training schemes - not only to attract graduates (and career-changers) but to develop them into skilled and creative development professionals and fundraisers. Only by doing this, will the sector be able to benefit fully from the vast number of talented young people available and able to make a dynamic contribution to the lives of charities and voluntary organisations. All this at times when the work of the sector has never been more important!

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