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Leading Change: Is the Third Sector Facing a Talent Crisis?

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As part of our new series, Leading Change, Bijal Daialal explores the critical need for attracting and retaining early talent, shedding light on the central importance of graduates in shaping the sector’s future. 

As my degree was drawing to a close, a pressing concern in my mind was 'What next?'. Most of my peers shared the sentiment and despite our differing interests, skills, and aspirations we were all united by a sense of wanting to do something positive and meaningful. The third sector, as the historical arena of purpose over profit, was a particularly attractive option. The opportunities to create meaningful change in our world alongside people who share similar values were a powerful incentive to join the sector. Yet, lucrative salaries and corporate perks often overshadow the appeal of working in the third sector. 

It is clear that the significance of attracting and retaining early talent in the third sector can not be overstated. With the scale of the problems that require urgent attention, from the climate crisis to global pandemics to the rise of artificial intelligence, it is imperative that the sector can attract the future torchbearers of innovation and change. Young talent will not only reinvigorate the third sector through fresh perspectives but will bring forward the energy and drive to tackle complex issues head-on. After all, it's our future in our hands. 

Third-sector leaders need to bring the purpose-driven culture to the fore again and highlight its successes and achievements, especially as corporates increasingly embrace ESG initiatives and social impact companies are on the rise. Young people want to be the agents of change and make a difference in the world they live in and whilst this is a major motivator for many, it is not enough on its own. The third sector must highlight the opportunities for skill development and career progression. It must foster diverse, inclusive cultures which includes adopting flexible working arrangements. Many leaders are on their journeys to confront this ‘talent crisis’ but their success will require sector-wide collaboration and direction.

This is merely one of many big-picture questions currently facing third-sector leaders and there is no simple answer. It is equally at the forefront of organisations like ACEVO, who have dedicated the past thirty-six years to connecting, representing, and empowering charity leaders to tackle issues like talent attraction and many others. This forward-thinking organisation is currently looking for an inspiring individual to take on the crucial role of Chair to deepen their reach within the sector. You can find out more about this opportunity here:

It is difficult to sum up the scope, influence, and possibilities of this role in just a few words, so ACEVO is hosting an online Q&A to share more details. This is the perfect opportunity to find out more and get your questions answered by the wonderful Jane Ide (Chief Executive) and Joyce Materego-Woodall (Treasurer). 

Join us on the 16th of April at 5pm BST: We look forward to seeing you there.