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Commercial classes for civil society

Commercial classes for civil society

Ethos Journal | Ethos Journal

2 min read Partner content

Partners from the civil and business sectors, including Serco, have launched a series of masterclasses to strengthen the ability of VCS to win large government contracts

March saw the launch of the Cabinet Office’s newly devised masterclasses – a programme aimed at enhancing the voluntary and community sector's (VCS) commercial skills in securing public service contracts. Designed and lead by NCVO (the National Council for Voluntary Organisations), the initiative was proposed last December in a paper called 'Making it easier for civil society to work with the state', published by Nick Hurd, minister for civil society. He spoke of improving VCS candidates’ opportunities with expert tuition in the tools and techniques deployed by the private sector: “This is designed to support intelligent public sector commissioning that is sensitive to the needs of civil society.”

The masterclasses are funded by the Office for Civil Society. They were designed by a cross-sector partnership which includes Acveo (the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations), Navca (the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action), Social Enterprise UK and NCVO. Commercial partners include Capita, Ingeus, Avanta and Serco, all of which have donated their expertise on a pro bono basis. Taking place across the country, the masterclasses are pitched at senior staff in VCS organisations seeking to deliver public services, or bid to do so.

The voluntary sector already works with government in various ways and, while there is no doubt that VCS is delivering more public services, so too is the private sector: hence the masterclasses. To put this into figures, the voluntary sector had contracts with central government worth £4.4bn in 2010, compared to the private sector’s £83.7bn. If VCS is to take a greater share of this pot, they may well need to look towards alliances with commercial providers to achieve capacity and market position, and to address more complex service requirements...

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