The first thing to recognise is there is no ‘traditional’ route to becoming involved.
The Voluntary Sector in Scotland is incredibly diverse with 45,000 organisations employing 138,000 people. They earn a living in areas including social care, human services, environment, heritage, sports, arts, culture, credit unions, campaigning, health, community work, village halls, faith groups, housing, animals and education. The sector also has the support of 250,000 unpaid Trustees and 1.3million volunteers
The following data shows the shape of the ‘regulated third sector’ where most of the employment occurs, and which encompasses around half of all voluntary organisations, including a sub-set of 19,635 charities from the Office of the Scottish Charitable Regulator (OSCR), plus additional information on 162 housing associations and 107 credit unions.
With such scale and diversity therefore scope exists for anyone to seek employment within the sector and it’s important to recognise no fixed formulae or qualifications are likely to be replicated between organisations. Minimal exceptions to that would be where organisations require qualified accountants to maintain significant financial records or, in the case of legal services, require qualified lawyers. However the majority of jobs including i.e. development, fundraising, campaigning, advocacy, environment, policy etc. attract people with a wide range of educational attainment and wider life experience. Of course, previous professional study will enhance a job candidate’s skill transferability but it is often the case people successfully gain work in areas that genuinely interest them and not necessarily directly related to their earlier career or qualifications.
In the field of social care – the largest sub sector, common qualifications could include social work and nursing however a requirement on the employer is to ensure all care staff are qualified or qualifying. Therefore people with appropriate personalities and aptitudes are often recruited and engaged (by the employer) in the Scottish Vocational Qualification structure as part of their employment contract. This work based study approach provides opportunities for employees to incrementally improve their qualifications by climbing the levels (from 1-5) and in the process their career prospects.