Latest Labour Force Survey figures for the third quarter of 2010 show that the voluntary sector now employs 793,000 people, a slight decrease of 2% since the last quarter.
This is in contrast to the private sector which has shown a slight increase of 2%, whilst the public sector stayed reasonably static.
The levelling-off of what has been a long term upwards trend in voluntary sector employment will be of no surprise to those who have lost or are worrying about losing their jobs.
But it will be of just as much concern to those who depend upon the services delivered by voluntary and community organisations, as these estimates might be one of the first signs that levels of activity are reducing in the face of budget cuts.
The findings were produced by the Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) and the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in partnership with Skills -Third Sector, the registered charity working to make it easier for people who work and volunteer in charities and social enterprises to have the right skills to make a difference to people and their communities.
The findings come as part of an ongoing study being conducted by these three bodies into overall voluntary sector workforce trends.
"We know that organisations tend to cut training when things are tight, but it’s the quality of the people in the sector that makes all the difference, and we must not lose sight of that", said Julie Wilkes, chief executive of Skills – Third Sector.
Skills – Third Sector is talking to potential partners about building National Skills Networks, which will bring learning providers and organisations together.