Skills for Change: A Research Report about VCSE Skills Needs

Skills for Change is the product of joint research conducted by GMCVO researcher Susanne Martikke and Noemi Sinkovics from Manchester Business School in 2015. The main objective of the project was to develop insights into the skills needs of employers and employees within the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector (VCSE).

The study specifically sought to answer the following questions: 

1) What do VCSE organisations perceive as the most important current and future skills needs? 
2) Is there a difference in the skills needs of voluntary organisations and social enterprises? 
3) What changes do training providers need to consider in their offerings to be able to better support third sector organisations?

Although the research findings suggest that skills, training and support has a crucial role to play in determining whether social enterprise lives up to the high policy expectations placed on it, quantitative data analysis performed as part of the study showed that the connections between skills and organisational success are far from straightforward.

The report concludes that addressing skills needs alone won’t help social enterprises to address the specific organisational constraints they face as a result of the combination of economic and social goals. Instead, more attention needs to be paid to dynamic capabilities and management capacity. While the third sector has been valued for the very qualities that are core features of dynamic capability – flexibility, responsiveness to service users and the ability to innovate – it often lacks in management capacity to fully realise its ability to turn a recognised need into a service that service users will benefit from.

The report makes recommendations for training providers and suggests areas of future research.

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