The main goals of our NGO work key competency are:
Society and the Need for NGO’s
NGO work is vital for the functioning and vitality of Finnish society. Voluntary associations at the local level offer opportunities to engaging opportunities to learn new things, influence society, produce, receive and innovate services, exercise lobbying, promote ideas, create something new and take care of others. Civic and organizational activities are therefore of enormous importance for people’s well-being and inclusion, as well as for the functioning of society as a whole.
Civic and organizational activities are of great social importance also in quantitative terms. There are more than one hundred thousand registered associations in Finland (NBPR 2019a), and although every year some of the associations cease to operate, a couple of thousand new associations are established every year (NBPR 2019b). The majority of Finns belong to at least one association as a member.
Most of the associations operate entirely on a voluntary basis, but the NGO sector is also a major employer. About 8,000 organizations have at least one salaried employee, and a total of about 70,000 years of paid work were done in the NGO sector in 2018, representing about 5 percent of the total national economy workforce. Given the voluntary work carried out through these organizations, the sector is of great economic importance.
Typical development needs in NGO development projects relate to improving the quality of activities and services, effectiveness assessment, changes in service structure, digitalisation in NGOs, identification of non-formal learning in education and employment, well-being in organisations and such as population polarization and climate change.
Although the value and importance of civic and organizational activities are recognized in the surrounding society, it is not always self-evident that the preconditions for the operation of organizations are always improving. Concerned assessments have been made of the current state of civil society. Estimates have been made around the world that the state of civil society is shrinking. This is also reflected in Finland, especially in the activities of the numerous organizations that receive grants from the public sector. The guidance given by the state has been tightened so that the activities of the organizations are more clearly attached to the goals and requirements of the public sector. Defending the characteristics of civic activity therefore requires a new kind of expertise from organizations.
As a university of applied sciences, Humak has a special role to play in strengthening the competence of organisational professionals. As a trainer for community educators (Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees) and an organizer of various in-service trainings, we also have long-term experience of it.
The goal of strengthening the skills of professionals means that Humak emphasises skills needed currently and in the future. Such skills include at least the following:
All of this also takes into account digital operating environments. At the same time, it is essential to preserve the specific features of the organisation’s activities, such as values and ideology, community action and the involvement of volunteers and members. The common denominators of community pedagogical training, such as community spirit, inclusion, equality, promotion of agency and critical pedagogy, are also the cornerstone of the activity.
We aim to strengthen the operational capacity, quality and effectiveness of organisation. This means that Humak contributes to the development of organisational operations by promoting the organisation’s ability to study, evaluate, strengthen and demonstrate quality and effectiveness, and by developing new solutions and practices for current problems both in Finland and internationally.
This has already been done in previous and ongoing development projects. We also have a role to play in developing the content of organisations’ activities through other areas of expertise or cross-cutting expertise, such as youth work, culture, integration, the promotion of minority rights and trade union activities.
There are currently no universities in Finland that are specifically profiled for research and development in civil society, the third sector or professional organisational work. Due to the multidisciplinary perspective, the research is scattered across several faculties of universities. Several universities consider the third sector to be a single operating environment, with some attention paid to its specific features and cooperation with parties in projects and student assignments. In addition, individual universities have individual study units related to working in the third sector.
Study centers and umbrella organisations also provide information on the field of organisations and are involved in its development in accordance with their own roles.
The goal of Humak’s organisational expertise is to establish an organisational competence center during the current strategy period. It serves all parties interested in organisational expertise and research and development by providing not only training and development projects but also various publishing activities and research and expert services in cooperation with other Humak experts.