Research by the Third Sector Research Centre suggests that there are more employees in the English voluntary sector than previously thought. Using data from the 2008 National Survey of Third Sector Organisations (NSTSO), it estimates that there were more than 1.1 million full time equivalent employees in England in 2008, or just over 5% of the workforce. Other estimates, calculated using data from the Labour Force Survey, have put the figure much lower, at 759,000 employees in the last quarter of 2011.
The difference in totals is, according to the Centre, due to the fact that the NSTSO is likely to capture a broader range of organisations. It surveyed organisations in England that could be ‘seen to serve social, cultural and environmental objectives’, whereas the Labour Force Survey asks individuals if they work for a ‘charity, voluntary organisation or trust’.
The NSTSO was carried out for the first time in 2008, and enables researchers to analyse the regional distribution of third sector employees.
London has at least a quarter of all third sector employment in England. This is followed by the South East, with 17%.
London's voluntary sector accounts for 9.5% of all employees, compared to 5.6% nationally. In the East Midlands it accounts for just 3.8%.
The research paper ‘The regional distribution of employees in the third sector in England: estimates from the national survey of third sector organisations (NSTSO) was carried out by Professor John Mohan and Dr Frida Geyne-Rajme of the Third Sector Research Centre at the University of Southampton.