About the Sector

Volunteering, Jobs and Careers in the Social Care and Third Sectors

What Jobs exist in these sectors?

Apart from the obvious direct caring roles e.g. Care Assistant, Social Worker, Occupational Therapist, Support Worker etc there are also a host of infrastructure and ancillary support roles which provide opportunities for employment and career progression. The social care and third sectors need people with the following skills: general management, HR, finance, fundraising, business development, driving, health & safety, facilities management, administration and secretarial and many more. In fact all of the roles you will see in any other sector are generally needed in the social care and third sectors too. Organisations range in size, but all offer interesting environments in which to work and the satisfaction of knowing that you are contributing to the welfare of society.

Is it all paid work?

Certainly not; volunteers are the heartbeat of many third sector organisations and once again there are plenty of varied roles and opportunities which differ from organisation to organisation. Volunteers are usually paid out of pocket expenses and given support and any necessary training to help them get the most out of and put the most into their volunteering role. Volunteering provides an opportunity for all to “put something back” and do something worthwhile. In addition, for some people, the motivation can also be to acquire skills and experience to help obtain paid employment or to make a career change into the third or social care sector easier. Primarily volunteering is both fun and rewarding – so why not give it a try – it could open up so many new avenues.

What qualifications do I need?

There are roles within the third and social care sectors to suit all levels of academic achievement and experience; from school leavers with no qualifications or experience to graduates and post-graduates with high level experience.

What opportunities are there for career progression?

The sky is the limit. There are many examples of people entering organisations either as volunteers or at a relatively low level and with training and experience progressing up the career ladder. Salaries vary enormously in these sectors from volunteer expenses to minimum wage to 6 figure salaries.

Can you explain what is meant by the third sector and social care sector?

The Third Sector – is very diverse. Third sector organisations include charities, co-operatives, social enterprises and community groups. They cover a range of interests and engage in multiple activities from sporting, educational and social care services to healthcare, law and religious activities. One third of third sector organisations in England have a neighbourhood focus, while one in ten has a national focus. This diversity of activity makes the sector an interesting and exciting place to work in.

The Social Care Sector – Social care is a profession where people work in partnership with those who experience marginalisation or disadvantage or who have special needs. The estimated workforce of 1.5 million people in England in direct social care work includes: social workers (105,000 in the UK according to the British Association of Social Workers); residential, day and home care workers (amounting to two thirds of the social care workforce); personal assistants (set to grow from 8 per cent of the workforce in 2006 to 29 per cent by 2025); occupational therapists, support workers and many more occupations. The sector makes up 5 per cent of the overall UK labour force. It is at present evenly split between full and part-time workers. Over two thirds work in the private and third sectors and the rest in the public sector. Estimates are that recipients of direct payments currently employ over 100,000 people, and these numbers are set to grow. There is no equivalent data on the far greater numbers of workers employed by people who fund their own care and support.