Headlines: June 13th, 2008

A series of training sessions has been launched with the aim of helping staff who commission public services to work in partnership with the third sector. Over the course of the programme 600 commissioners will learn how they can best fulfil Government aims for public services to benefit from greater involvement of charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises.

The first session is taking place in Manchester, beginning a series of regional training sessions as part of the four-year National Programme for Third Sector Commissioning. The three-day courses will be in each of the nine Government Office regions and will include question and answer sessions, round-table discussions and even quizzes.

Sarah Wood, the Programme Director for the National Programme for Third Sector Commissioning at the IDeA said, “There is a significant gap between policy on the involvement of the third sector in public service delivery and the reality. A lack of confidence in the ability of the sector to deliver services means that the third sector is often not involved enough in the commissioning cycle.” She added that in training 2,000 commissioners the aim was to start changing the culture of work in this area.

The National Programme will provide accredited training through a number of academic institutions. Commissioners attending university-level courses on public sector management and commissioning will also benefit from third sector commissioning modules from September this year.

The programme aims to coordinate specialist guidance and support on commissioning services from the third sector and hopes to improve awareness and skills of commissioners, councillors and public sector officers about the benefits of third sector involvement in the shaping and delivery of public services.