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Working in the third sector. Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre ( /careers ) Career Focus - Contents . What is the third sector? Graduate job market Career opportunities David Henderson – Careers Adviser

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working in the third sector

Working in the third sector

Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre (

Career Focus -

  • What is the third sector?
  • Graduate job market
  • Career opportunities

David Henderson – Careers Adviser


  • Durham graduate’s experience of the third sector

Colette Harrison - Volunteer Consortium



  • Internships and work experience...the value of volunteering
  • Finding employment

Tom Davie – Careers Adviser (

  • Your questions to the panel!
what is the third sector
What is the thirdsector?
  • Also known as the voluntary, not-for-profit and civil sector
  • Not simply defined and encompasses a wide variety of organisations:

Museums & Galleries Think tanks

Trade Unions Professional & Trade Associations

Housing Associations Trusts

Education institutions Research groups

  • Sector most commonly associated with ‘charities’
  • Can be applied to any organisation that is non-governmental and non-profit
national council for voluntary organisations
National Council for Voluntary Organisations

“ An independent, self-governing body of people who have joined together voluntarily to take action for the benefit of the community. A voluntary organisation may employ paid staff or volunteers, but must be established otherwise than for financial gain.”

what is the voluntary sector
What is the voluntary sector?

Cause driven:

  • business and professional, e.g. FSA, Royal Pharmaceutical Society;
  • civil rights, citizenship and law and order; e.g. Amnesty International, Citizens Advice Bureau
  • conservation and protection, e.g. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB);
  • culture, sport and recreation, e.g. Arts Council;
  • education, training and research, e.g. Civitas, Sutton Trust
  • health and medical, e.g. Royal Mencap Society, Wellcome Trust;
  • housing and community affairs, e.g. Shelter;
  • international activities, e.g. Disasters Emergency Committee;
  • philanthropic intermediation, e.g. Comic Relief;
  • religion, e.g. Salvation Army, Christian Aid;
  • social services and relief, e.g. Help the Aged, Barnardo’s

Voluntary sector – growing/dynamic

  • 1 in 50 employees work in the voluntary sector
  • Paid workforce in excess of 600,000 in ‘general’ charities (plus 13.2 million volunteers!)
  • Approximately 170,000 charities (98,000 in 1991)
  • Growth of public sector/voluntary partnerships
the political context
The political context
  • Previous government placed considerable emphasis on role of the Third Sector; partnership between government and Third Sector agreed in ‘The Compact’.

- Commission for the Compact

- Compact Voice

  • Coalition Government advocate greater use of Third Sector organisations in delivery of public services. ‘The Big Society’: opportunities for charities (Localism Bill)?
  • Impact of spending review on charities funded by central and local government (62% of charities receive income from public sector contracts)
  • Charities Act 2006 – more supportive legal and regulatory framework; greater scope for campaigning activity in the broadcast media
voluntary sector opportunities for graduates
Voluntary sector – opportunities for graduates
  • Despite growth still challenging to find employment (approximately 2% of UK workforce)
  • Paucity of graduate schemes; majority recruit in to specific roles
  • Graduate schemes that are available tend to have a management focus
  • Internships are available but often unpaid although subsistence and training offered
  • International development and environment sectors particularly challenging to get into

Voluntary sector – opportunities for graduates

  • Volunteering important; often necessary even to secure a voluntary sector internship!
  • Value of other skills and experiences – specific roles within the voluntary sector require appropriate professional and technical expertise
  • Charities find it harder to recruit in areas such as fundraising, social care, youth work and health care
  • 54% of voluntary sector employees involved in social work activities
  • 32% of voluntary sector employees employed in work places with less than ten employees (25% private sector, 8% public sector)
  • Skills shortages in functions like marketing and fundraising but also in broader areas such as technology, leadership and law

Source: HECSU

what are the career opportunities
What are the career opportunities?
  • Large charities (e.g. National Trust, Cancer Research, Oxfam)
  • Competitive salary
  • Professional development
  • Small charities
  • wider remit and responsibility
  • less competitive salary, less job security, part-time and short-term contracts
what are the career opportunities1
What are the career opportunities?
  • External focus

marketing, fundraising, campaigning, policy, public relations

  • Internal focus

finance, HR, IT, volunteer management, administration

  • Operational/Services
  • Strategic/Managerial
what are the career opportunities2
What are the career opportunities?

Volunteer Management

  • Co-ordinating the recruitment of volunteers
  • Implementation of appropriate training for volunteers
  • Management, support and supervision

Charity Fundraising

  • Combining commercial enterprise with a commitment to the cause
  • Development of fundraising strategies – corporate and community support
  • Competitive marketplace – target focused
what are the career opportunities3
What are the career opportunities?

Policy and research

  • Number of opportunities small, particularly in comparison to frontline service delivery roles
  • Opportunity to apply analytical research skills; postgraduate study highly relevant
  • Engage in opinion/market research (surveys/focus groups); formulating public policy positions, policy development
  • Internships/volunteering route in; also consider research/policy assistant roles


  • Outreach work – schools, universities, communities
  • Lobbying, mobilising support, facilitating action
  • Information provision
  • Limited opportunities; legal restrictions e.g. Make Poverty History’s ‘one click’ campaign (adverts banned by OFCOM)
Person Specification – Policy Assistant (Family Rights Group)

Salary: 30k

Qualifications and Experience

  • You will be a graduate with experience of research methodologies.
  • Anti-discriminatory PracticeBe able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the way in which discrimination impacts on different minority ethnic families and on men and women as parents. Be able to apply this knowledge to developing anti-discriminatory policies and practice in relation to project work, policy development and training
  • Policy developmentBe able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding current legislation, policy and practice in promoting and safeguarding the welfare of children. Be able to apply this knowledge and understanding to respond to issues as they emerge, and produce policy briefings and draft recommendations as required.
  • Research skillsProven research and analysis skills. To be able to extract and summarise relevant information Have excellent numerical skills.
  • Communication skillsBe able to communicate clearly both verbally and in writing. Be able to develop positive relationships with people from a range of organisations and backgrounds. Be able to provide clear and concise written reports for a variety of audiences. Be able to represent Family Rights Group by talking about the organisation’s work to a variety of audiences.
  • Self-Management and flexibilityBe able to organise your own work, keep to deadlines and negotiate competing priorities. To be able to be flexible, to address the needs of the organisation
  • ITHave excellent IT skills (including powerpoint and excel) and a willingness to develop these as required by the post. Knowledge and experience of using SPSS desirable.

Other requirements

  • Be able to stay away from home overnight occasionally and to be available for some early and late evenings Have an understanding of and commitment to Family Rights Group’s aims.
what are the career opportunities4
What are the career opportunities?

Marketing and communications

  • Critical role in raising the profile of an organisation and conveying key messages
  • Establishing contacts within the media; securing exposure for organisation
  • Event management opportunities; direct marketing and promotion
  • Newsletters, information resources, online material
  • /

Frontline services

  • Roles involving direct work with clients (individuals and groups)
  • Professional career pathways e.g. youth work, social work, community development, advice work, health care, counselling, advocacy
  • Opportunities to work in assistant and support roles
  • /
Person Specification – Victim Support

Job Title: Homicide Support Worker (17-19K)

Department: Operations



  • Developing and maintaining administrative systems (s)
  • Working in an office environment involving substantial contact with people outside of the organisation
  • Voluntary sector or support agency environment
  • Handling sensitive telephone calls (or other communications) confidentially, efficiently and effectively (s)


  • How bereavement and violent crime impacts on people
  • Understanding the sensitivity required to provide a support service to people bereaved following violence
  • Principles of confidentiality including data protection
  • Office systems and procedures (s)

Skills and abilities:

  • Communicate effectively - verbally and in written form (s)
  • Use generic IT applications - Microsoft Office (s)
  • Gather, analyse and use information and evidence from different sources (s)
  • Balance competing needs and interests
  • Promote an organisation’s interests and values
  • Build and sustain relationships
  • Solve problems
what are the career opportunities5
What are the career opportunities?

Regulation and infrastructure

  • Opportunities with Cabinet Office, Communities and Local Government (Big Society), Charity Commission, Charities Trust, NCVO, volunteer bureaus (Volunteer England, CSV) and regional councils for voluntary organisations (Durham City District CVS)
  • Opportunities to develop, promote and improve the work of voluntary organisations
  • Build partnerships and networks; dissemination of information e.g. policy consultations

Management and Administration

  • Project and service delivery management
  • Roles varied and might include project evaluation, financial management, strategic development, facilitating front-line services, marketing and communication
  • Corporate functions (HR, IT, Finance, Procurement, Logistics, Business Development, Sales)

Colette Harrison – Volunteer

Consortium Coordinator with the

Ouseburn Trust