What’s happening in the third sector labour market?

Good news for the third sector labour market; Sharon Cant, Employer Engagement Adviser, provides an encouraging update…

Last month, I attended a webinar hosted by Social Enterprise Scotland, looking at jobs and careers in Social Enterprise. We heard from Richard Nisbet, from the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations and Goodmoves. Richard started by giving us a reminder of the size and shape of the third sector in Scotland – highlighting the variety of organisations and roles the sector covers and some of the key benefits of working in the sector (a real feeling of making a difference; fairer salaries with less difference between lower and top earners; a willingness to innovate; and working with committed colleagues being a few). If you would like more of a general insight into the third sector labour market in Scotland, Richard discussed this with me during Careers Week in October 2020 and you can view the recording of that session here.

What was particularly interesting in this recent webinar was that Richard was now able to provide a bit more analysis of how the sector had been impacted by Covid-19 and lockdown. Based on roles advertised on Goodmoves, there was of course a sharp fall in April 2020, but what they observed was a broad recovery since then with the number of opportunities across the board, not just in one area of the third sector, continuing to increase right up until October 2020. At that point, there was a decline again (as had also happened October to December 2019), but the overall number of opportunities remained higher than in 2019. (Data wasn’t available for January onwards).

Richard explained that this meant the third sector recovery was stronger than that of the wider economy, which was pretty encouraging. And it wasn’t just good news in terms of number of jobs – the jobs being advertised were better paid. The average salary of roles advertised on Goodmoves in 2020 was £28,456 – up 3% from 2019. And 52% of the roles advertised in 2020 were paying £25K or more (up from 47% in 2019) – so more, better paid roles – and that wasn’t because of fewer entry-level roles – there was a genuine increase in salaries.

At a time when you might assume salaries, particularly in the third sector, might stagnate, this seems telling of a wider theme that comes across when discussing the third sector labour market – doing what’s right.  The sector is keen to live their own values and do the right thing for people – engaging with campaigns like #ShowTheSalary and the Real Living Wage are examples of this.

For me it was a helpful reminder that the third sector is showing great strength and resilience, is an aspirational career path that offers great rewards, and is #NeverMoreNeeded and so for students and graduates keen to get into roles in this area, the message is to keep looking – things are better than you might have imagined and there is huge value in what you could contribute.


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