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Smaller NFPs struggling to upskill their workforce


27 September 2021 at 5:12 pm
Luke Michael
Many NFP CEOs say a lack of resources is making it difficult to provide upskilling programs  


Luke Michael | 27 September 2021 at 5:12 pm


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Smaller NFPs struggling to upskill their workforce
27 September 2021 at 5:12 pm

Many NFP CEOs say a lack of resources is making it difficult to provide upskilling programs  

Not-for-profit leaders say digital upskilling of their workforce has become a higher priority amid COVID-19, but many employees in smaller NFPs are missing out on developing their skills, new research shows.

PwC’s latest Annual Not-for-profit CEO Survey examined NFP leaders’ priorities for preparing for the future of work, and uncovered a sector looking to balance future readiness and coping with daily disruptions.

Almost four in five (79 per cent) sector leaders said the need for digital upskilling of employees has become a higher priority during the pandemic, up from 77 per cent last year. 

CEOs identified a stronger organisational culture and employee engagement, higher workforce productivity, and greater organisational growth as the main benefits of upskilling programs.

Whether employees actually received this training though depended heavily on the size of the organisation.

For NFPs with revenue between $10 and $100 million, 93 per cent of their employees received skills and training in the past 12 months to help them adjust to the impact of new technology on their role.

But for NFPs with revenue under $250,000, the proportion of employees being upskilled over the past year dropped to just 50 per cent.           

PwC Australia social impact director Jane Edwards told Pro Bono News there was a great opportunity for the sector to get more value from technological change with a digitally skilled workforce.

But she said it was concerning that smaller NFPs were struggling to upskill their workers, especially when two-thirds of registered Australian charities were categorised as small.

“That obviously means that a large proportion of the sector is missing out on training opportunities,” Edwards said. 

“And what’s really consistent from what we saw in the survey last year and again this year, is that the biggest challenge facing the sector in its upskilling efforts is a lack of resources – be that budget, people, time or knowledge.                                                               

Last year, 61 per cent of not-for-profit CEOs identified resources as the biggest obstacle. This year, it grew to 77 per cent.

So how can organisations overcome this? According to Edwards, collaboration can play a key role. 

Half of NFP CEOs surveyed said they have made progress collaborating with academic and government institutions on future skills, a 12 per cent increase on last year.

“I think collaboration is a way of circumventing some of the resource challenges that many not for profits experience,” Edwards said.

“Last year, we called out collaboration as something of a missed opportunity for the sector because there was an appetite from not for profits to leverage alliances, but maybe not as many structured opportunities.                                                             

“This year [collaboration] increased from 38 per cent to 50 per cent. So I think a sizable number are actually now engaging more in collaboration opportunities to assist their upskilling efforts.” 

The survey also found that while NFPs knew they faced increasing exposure to cybersecurity risks and data privacy obligations, this was not identified by CEOs as a major area that needed upskilling in.

Edwards said neglecting cybersecurity posed massive reputational and operational risks to organisations, and should be a focus for NFPs going forward. 

PwC is a supporting partner of Infoxchange’s Digital Transformation Hub, and Edwards encouraged NFPs to make use of this platform.

“I think there’s opportunities for not for profits to access the resources and the expertise that initiatives like this provide,” she said. 

“We’re really keen to support not for profits through the hub so they can embed cybersecurity into their ways of working and avoid the operational impacts that come from cyber incidents.” 

You can find out more here


Luke Michael  |  Journalist  |  @luke_michael96

Luke Michael is a journalist at Pro Bono News covering the social sector.

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