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Ali Kaye
2011 Clore Social Fellow
Ali Kaye

Skills training is vital if the social sector is to thrive

Authors: Ali Kaye Ali Kaye, 2011 Clore Social Fellow

17 April 2013

The most recent Labour Force Survey on employment trends in the social sector tells us that the last twelve months has seen a decline of almost a quarter (24.8%) in the number of employees receiving training. Additionally, there has been an increase in part-time working patterns, which means that the social sector has lower levels of permanent working conditions than any other sector (Skills-Third Sector February 8th 2013).

The downward trend is perhaps no surprise, but it does beg questions for a sector that is ultimately about changing lives for the better. How far is the social sector geared up to implement the transformational changes that we know need to happen in our sector, to both our practices and partnerships?

As Dame Mary Marsh, Founding Director of the Clore Social Leadership Programme, recently said: “The threat of a triple dip recession looms and the inevitability of reduced statutory funding with increasing social need is already with us.  The social sector needs leaders who can work with and through others to enable and drive fast-paced, innovative, relentless change.”

The acquirement of new and different skills and exposure to different ways of thinking as well as doing are crucial to anyone who sees themselves and their organisation as leading for social change. The Clore Social Leadership Programme is a unique, personalised leadership development programme for aspiring leaders.  Through 360 degree assessments, residential, secondments, practice-based research, coaching and mentoring, aspiring leaders are challenged and supported to become courageous and resilient leaders, quipped with the skills and qualities needed to lead the sector in the years ahead.

Know yourself, Be Yourself, Look after Yourself is the mantra that anyone taking part in the Clore Social Leadership Programme quickly comes to know. During my Fellowship, the mantra was invoked by other Fellows to remind individuals to do just that. At the event to celebrate the formal end of our Fellowship, nearly every one of the 16 Fellows in their brief speech again invoked the mantra, revealing the deeper impact and transformative process it had on each of us during the course of our Fellowship. The skills we gained were part of a more holistic transformation.

For me, part of that process was supported by the shift the programme allowed in me; permission to give myself space away from a reactive, task focused working environment to absorb myself in learning in a variety of new environments, on both a personal and professional basis. In a sector that prides itself on doing, and learning through doing, dedicating and taking time out for leadership development can be viewed as a luxury. But with the time to focus on this learning, which is so vital for the social sector, the other Fellows and I have deepened our leadership skills and qualities in a way that will be of real-long term benefit to organisations and communities we serve. Being a Clore Social Fellow taught me far more about my own learning than I previously knew. It gives anyone interested in becoming a more effective leader a unique learning programme geared to meet the learning and skills challenges faced in the social sector today.

Applications for the 2014 Clore Social Fellowship open on April 29th 2013. For more details see