The profile of voluntary sector workers continues to be predominantly female, slightly older and university educated
- Women make up about two-thirds of the voluntary and public sectors (65% and 66% respectively) but only 40% of the private sector workforce.
- Between June 2015 and June 2016, the proportion of men working for the voluntary sector increased from 34% to 35%. The increase of 21,000 in men working for the sector continues the recent trend of small year on year increases.
- Fewer than one in ten (9%) voluntary sector employees are from black and minority ethnic groups, a lower proportion than in the public (11%) and private sectors (12%).
- Voluntary sector workers are slightly older than public and private sector workers, with around 39% aged 50 years or older, compared to 35% in the public sector and 29% in the private sector.
- In line with broader demographic changes in the UK, the voluntary sector workforce has also become slightly older with time. In June 2016, 14% of voluntary sector workers were over 60, compared to 8% in June 2004.
- Nearly half (49%) of voluntary sector employees have a university degree, up from 46% in the preceding 12 months. This proportion is comparable to the public sector (50%) but far higher than for the private sector (29%).
- Only 2% of voluntary sector workers have no qualifications, the lowest proportion of all three sectors.
Workforce and organisation type
Most of the voluntary sector employees work for small organisations
- Most voluntary sector employees (47%) work in organisations of fewer than 25 employees whilst only 6% work for large organisations of more than 500 employees.
- By comparison, 35% of public sector and 13% of private sector workers work for organisations of over 500 employees.
- However, the proportion of employees working in larger organisations has increased over time, with 37% of people working in an organisation of 50 or more employees in June 2016 compared to 27% in June 2004.
- This is in line with general findings and trends for the voluntary sector, namely that while the sector predominantly comprises smaller organisations the number of larger organisations has increased over time.
Workforce by location
- In June 2016, 30% of UK voluntary sector workers lived in either London or the South East. Again, this reflects our understanding of the geographic distribution of voluntary sector organisations.
- These areas also account for the highest proportions of public and private sector workers, although at a slightly lower rate compared with the voluntary sector (25% and 29% respectively, which has not changed since 2015).
% of UK voluntary sector
|East of England||70,048||
|Yorkshire and the Humber||65,592||
Social work remains the key activity of voluntary sector employees
- As of June 2016, over 300,000 people were employed in social work, representing 36% of the voluntary sector workforce. Education has taken over from residential care as the second most common form of voluntary sector work with 14% of the workforce employed in this area, the equivalent of over 115,000 employees.
- The employment industries of the voluntary sector differ greatly from the public and private sectors. The majority of the public sector workforce (58%) is employed in education and health whilst only 4% of the public sector and 1% of the private sector workforce are employed in social work.
- The five largest employment industries of the voluntary sector only account for 10% of the private sector workforce. These proportions have not changed since June 2015.
The majority of voluntary sector employees are on permanent contracts
- In June 2016, 90% of voluntary sector employees were on permanent contracts, which is a slightly lower proportion than in the public (92%) and private (95%) sectors.
- Of those employed in the voluntary sector in June 2016, 10% were working on a temporary basis. This means that there is a bigger proportion of people working on temporary contracts in the voluntary sector than in both the public (8%) and private (5%) sectors.
- Of those working on temporary contracts in, most were on a fixed contract (62%), which is marginally higher than in the public sector (60%) and more than double in the private sector (27%). Temporary voluntary sector workers were less likely to be temping through an agency (3%) than in the public and private sectors (12% and 25% respectively).
- Less than one in ten employees (9%) in the voluntary sector (equating to 71,000 people) were looking for a new (7%) or additional (2%) job.
- 63% of voluntary sector workers were employed on full time contracts. This proportion was slightly lower than in the public (70%) and private (75%) sectors. Of the 37% of part time employees, 74% chose not to work full-time which has decreased from 80% in June 2004.
- Of the 853,000 people working in the voluntary sector in June 2016, 795,000 were UK nationals (93%), 38,000 were European Union nationals (4%) and 23,000 were nationals from other parts of the world (3%).
- The nationality profile of the voluntary sector has changed considerably over the last five years. In June 2011, 2.4% of the voluntary sector workforce was from the EU. This grew to 4.4% in June 2016. In this same period, the proportion of UK nationals decreased from 95% to 93%.
- In June 2016, the voluntary sector employed 28,500 EU nationals in the education (4,744), human health (1,200), membership (5,893), residential care (1,620) and social work (15,087) sub-sectors. EU nationals working in these sub-sectors accounted for 76% of all EU nationals working in the voluntary sector.
- The proportion of EU nationals working in the five sub-sectors increased for the private and public sectors from 2009 but only noticeably for the voluntary sector from March 2015. The proportion plateaued for the voluntary sector between June and December 2015 before starting to decrease. The reasons behind this spike and the following drop will be explored in further analysis.
- The recent upturn in EU nationals working in the voluntary sector in March 2015 can be attributed to the increase seen in the social work and membership sub-sectors.