Five numbers that describe the European Union workforce in the UK voluntary sector

Each year, the UK Civil Society Almanac presents information on the voluntary sector workforce using data from the Labour Force Survey by the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Following the referendum in June 2016, we thought we’d take a look at the numbers and proportions of European Union nationals working in the UK voluntary sector today and compare to the workforce as a whole or to other sectors. For the purposes of this blog post, we have not included UK nationals in the EU figures below but have included people from Ireland, who make up about 11% of the EU voluntary workforce.

1. 33,000

In March 2017, there were 869,000 people working in the voluntary sector. As seen in the chart below, most were from the UK (814,000) while 33,000 were from the EU and 22,000 from the rest of the world.

2. 4.2

In 2016, 4.2% of workers were from the EU. However, the number of European Union nationals working in the voluntary sector between March 2007 and March 2017 rose from 13,000 (2.0% of total workforce) to 33,000 (4.2%), though most of this growth happened between September 2011 and September 2016.

Generally, the number of EU nationals working in the voluntary sector is highest during the summer months. The seasonal increase each year is usually reflected in the September edition of the survey, with the next survey in December reporting lower numbers as a result. However, in December 2015 there were more EU nationals reported than in September 2015. This was not repeated in the same survey editions of 2016, which of course is after referendum took place. It seems that December 2015 was, therefore, a high point in the proportion of EU nationals working in the voluntary sector.  Whether this continues to go down and/or is a consequence of the referendum remains to be seen. We’ll be able to check the trend towards the end of the year once more surveys have been made available by ONS.

3. 71

In 2016, 40% (320,000) of UK nationals employed in the voluntary sector worked in the three southern regions of England – London, the South East and South West­. Yet 71% of EU nationals worked in these same three regions, with London alone accounting for over half (54%). This suggests that reductions in EU nationals working in the UK would disproportionately affect organisations in the south the hardest, particularly London.

4. 67

Two-thirds (67%) of EU nationals work in three sub-sectors: social work (38%), membership (16%) and education (13%); the remaining are then split between residential care, human health, and other sub-sectors. By contrast, the three largest sub-sectors for the entire workforce are social work (35%), education (13%) and residential care (13%).

For an understanding of what type of work is included in each sub-sector, please see the UK Standard Industrial Classification of Economic Activities 2007 (SIC 2007)

5. 60

In 2016, 60% of the EU workforce worked in higher managerial and lower managerial positions, and the remaining worked in technical (20%) and routine or semi-routine jobs (20%). We can therefore say that most EU nationals working in the voluntary sector are managers. Nevertheless, 60% is equal to only 2.5% of all people working in the UK voluntary workforce. Of all the managers in the workforce, 4.4% are from the EU while the number is slightly less for all other job levels (4.0%). This is different to the private sector, where 9.5% of non-managers come from the EU compared to only 6.0% of managers.

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Marc Lawson Marc is NCVO's data scientist. He helps maintain the UK Civil Society Almanac database and works on other data-related projects in the research team.

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