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The changing nature of work in the third sector in Glasgow

Date: May 2015
Category: Report
Author: Rocket Science

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Glasgow’s third sector workforce faces a range of challenges that includes responding to economic austerity, welfare reforms, and the changing nature of paid work. Within this context, the Glasgow Centre for Population Health commissioned research which involved interviewing 163 staff from 71 third sector organisations, drawn from approximately 11,000 employees across the city.

The study aims were to:    

  1. Increase understanding of labour market changes, including employment conditions and household income, within the third sector workforce. 
  2. Identify organisational changes, such as demands for services, resource availability, and how the workforce was responding in the current economic climate.
  3. Explore the interaction between health, work and life within the workforce. 

Some of the key results to emerge from the study were: 

  • Third sector jobs were viewed as having many of the features of ‘good jobs’ i.e. characterised by flexibility, teamwork, support, autonomy, influence, and a relatively high level of security.
  • The majority of employees felt that their pay and conditions adequately reflected the effort they put in at work.
  • The majority (80%) of organisations were paying the Living Wage.
  • The workforce could be characterised as being more qualified and older when compared with the wider workforce across Strathclyde, and with a higher proportion of women.  One out of every four women was aged 45-54.
  • The proportion living in “households in poverty” was 8% which is around half the national rate (15%) among working-age people.
  • Four out of five were on full-time ‘permanent’ contracts. However, these ‘permanent’ jobs were often linked to time-limited funding.  
  • Welfare reform and public sector budget cuts were viewed as contributing to increased competition for funding and constrained organisational spend.
  • A small number of workers reported passing a ‘tipping point’ of demoralisation and depletion, with a risk that more workers and organisations will reach this point in the future, as increasing demands and funding challenges continue.
  • The workforce displayed similar or better health and wellbeing than third sector workers in national statistics. However, among a subsample of 12 people with serious health conditions most were without access to, or unaware of, occupational health support.

The research highlights several areas for action in the light of these challenges: 

  • Assessing the short and medium-term impact of funding decisions on the workforce.
  • Considering co-designing new approaches to competitive tendering, and extending the Living Wage.
  • Addressing childcare and occupational health gaps.
  • Viewing workforce motivation as an important asset that can be utilised within a difficult climate of constrained spend and increasing service demand.    

Download the accompanying Technical Report.

For more information, contact James Egan, Programme Manager.