Terzo Settore Morning Future
Guiding Trend 3 July Jul 2019 0715 3 July 2019

Third sector, but first in employment

The non-profit labor market has grown by 3.1%. But who are the workers in the third sector? Where do they come from and what training do they have?

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More than 2.7 million Italians, 107% more than in 2008, have part-time employment even though they would like to work (and therefore earn) more. And 1.9 million of these are women. It is the great transformation of the Italian labor market in the ten years following the crisis, in a snapshot taken for the Istat Annual Report 2019. On the other hand, just in the last year employed exceeded the level achieved before the great recession, reaching 23.2 million. In the meantime, however, the make up of the market has changed radically.

«The recovery of employment has only partially succeeded in reducing the vulnerabilities and gaps that had become acute during the recession», the statistical institute added, «also the overall work input, measured by the total of the hours worked, is still well below the pre-crisis level».

However, in this difficult context of Italian employment there is an exception: the non-profit sector. According to data in the Censimento permanente delle istituzioni non profit (permanent survey of non profit institutions), as of December 31, 2016, non-profit institutions operating in Italy employ 812,706 people, a 3.1% increase in employees compared to 2015.

A totally different pace.
This performance is also confirmed by the incidence of non-profit institutions compared to the total number of industrial and service companies: from 5.8% in 2001 to 7.8% in 2016 for institutions and from 4.8% in 2001 to 6.9% of 2016 for employees. According to a non-profit Italian study, the market for goods and services purchased by non-profits is worth more than 21 billion, 1.3% of the National GDP. In short, it’s a competitive and constantly growing market despite the crisis winds that now endemically blow over the Italian economy.

Which professional figures are most sought after in the Third sector?
«In contrast with the trend in the labor market, the professional profiles operating in the non-profit sector are in great demand. In fact, as social unease has increased following the crisis, proportionally the demand for adequate social projects and for professionals who know how to design them, create them and finance them has increased». This is according to Marco Crescenzi, founder and president of ASVI Social Change, la Scuola di Management e Innovazione sociale (School of Management and Social Innovation) based in Rome and London, which has been training professionals for the sector since 1997. «To work in the non-profit sector you need a dream, a great desire to change the world, to make a difference, to challenge a system, and not just to plug the flaws. But also and above all, you need increasingly professional skills calibrated to international standards».

According to Crescenzi, the professional figures most sought-after by non-profit organizations «are diverse and all have a key role in organizations. Fundraising Managers are examples of these: they supervise, strategically manage and coordinate all fundraising activities, ensuring the economic and financial sustainability of emergency humanitarian projects and interventions. They are professionals who must be able to work in synergy with the communication and marketing sectors, and operate in different contexts. Europlanners are in high demand, also because of the new European programs on cooperation and social innovation: a professional figure with a strong international vocation that requires an excellent level of English and a willingness to travel. They can operate in Italy or abroad, within a single organization or as an external consultant. Development Cooperation Project Managers are key roles sought by NGOs, based in Italy and missions abroad, together with Humanitarian Emergency Managers - in their various professional sub-profiles (Administrator, Logistics, Field Coordinator) for the management of the many - dramatic and unfortunately increasing - emergencies on the field. Another emerging figure is that of the Designer and Manager of Social Innovations. It is a figure in demand on the local level, such as for social cooperatives and NGOs, a worker who knows how to develop and create innovative projects in the social sphere, also exploiting the power of digital platforms and apps, creating project financing and procuring finance in new ways. For example, through Foundations, Crowdfunding, Companies for Profit».

The NGO case and the course of studies
One of the most coveted areas for young people is international cooperation. It comprises of 20,372 human resources of which 2,880 in Italy and 17,492 abroad. A witness to this trend is the proliferation of bachelor, specialist, first and second level master degrees that revolve around this world. So much so that in 2004 a partnership between Crui, conference of the rectors of Italian universities, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs - Directorate General for Development Cooperation (DGCS) was created, aimed at identifying an academic model of cooperation for development and peace, which would enhance the role of the university in the training of human resources and its social mission.

The basics for anyone wanting to pursue a career in the world of cooperation are economics and political economies of development

Gianni Vaggi, director of the second level master in Cooperation and Development of the University of Pavia

«Knowing at least two languages, including English and mostly French, is essential. And being familiar with Arabic is an added value», Gianni Vaggi, director of the second level master in Cooperation and Development of the University of Pavia and member of the executive committee of Vis, International Volunteering for Development explains. «The courses are structured with face to face lectures and internships, especially abroad. The basics for anyone who wants to pursue a career in the world of cooperation are economics and political economies of development».


Soft skills
«The open positions on our site», says Gianluca Ranzato, International Umanitary manager of Save the Children, «are very detailed and precise. And together with technical skills we obviously evaluate motivation: not everyone, even if very well prepared, is ready to leave comfort and certainty and change their life». Paola Crestani, president of Link 2007, the consortium coordination association that brings together major Italian non-governmental organizations, and Ciai - the Italian Center for Child Care, summarized the soft skills necessary for anyone in any role in 5 points or positions, in order to decide whiter to work in cooperation.

Motivation is basically the most important soft skill

Paola Crestani, president of Link 2007

«Competence», Crestani says. «This is of fundamental importance to face the job with solid foundations in order to be to make the most of our abilities, which will then be consolidated by experience combined with problem solving, to achieve the objectives agreed upon». And then to follow: «Relational skills, because the quality of the relationship conditions every cooperation action. This is why it takes mental openness and consolidated emotional skills. Reliability, the worker is representing the organization "on the ground", in places often far from the main office, sometimes in difficult contexts. Not only are their activities dependent on them, but also the reputation of the organization». And last but not least motivation: «I believe it is the most important soft skill», Crestani concludes, «It also allows us to tackle all the obstacles and the difficulties of work commitment with determination and enthusiasm. Sharing the mission of the organization in which you work and the objectives of your commitment guarantees incredible strength».

The differences in employment between profit and non-profit

Sabrina Stoppiello from the Direzione Centrale per le Statistiche Economiche dell'Istat (Istat Central Directorate for Economic Statistics), then underlines how «under the socio-demographic profile, long term employment in the non-profit sector presents some specificities compared to what is observed in industry and service companies».

First of all «among the employees of non-profit institutions the percentage of women is much higher than that of males (71.9% against 28.1%) while in for-profit companies the male percentage prevails (59.4%). The distribution in terms of age groups is fairly aligned between the non-profit and profit sectors, with over 57.3% of employees in the 30-49 age group (56.9% among companies), 31.6% in 50 years and more (27.3% in companies) and 11.1% under 30 (15.6% in companies)».

«The employees of non-profit institutions», Stoppiello adds, «have higher levels of education than those employed by companies: there are 31.0% (14.4% in companies) graduates, while workers with at most an upper secondary school diploma (middle school) are about 25% (34% in companies). In terms of country of birth there are no significant differences, workers born in Italy are over 85% in both cases».

Civic commitment of citizens is still at the heart of the Third sector. An effort that has a value in itself beyond the production of goods and services

Claudia Fiaschi, the spokesman of the Third Sector Forum

These numbers, although significant, must not however be harbingers of perspective errors. «It is clear that the Third Sector is now a leg of the economic and employment system of the country that is managing to grow despite the crisis and economic difficulties. But it must be clear that we must not get too close to profit. The heart of the Third sector is still citizens' activity and civic engagement. An effort that has a value in itself beyond the production of the goods and services that it entails», the spokesman of the Third Sector Forum, Claudia Fiaschi concludes.

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