Learning for purpose: challenges and opportunities for human capital development in the social sector

Ramon Wenzel

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperChapterpeer-review


The ability of social sector organizations (SSO) to respond to change and growing demands – to have social impact – substantially depends on the knowledge, skills, and abilities of their people. There is substantial evidence to support this. Research shows that developing human capital is not mysterious, accidental, or something that can be postponed. Instead, human capital development ought to be considered as a strategic and deliberate activity in and for social sector organizations, and the purposes they serve. To provide the necessary background, the concepts and importance of human capital and workforce development are reviewed. The chapter integrates practically relevant knowledge, scholarly findings, and emerging debates. It is consequently argued that all social sector stakeholders need to (1) revisit the key competencies required in the social sector (i.e., What has to be learned?), (2) rethink approaches of work learning (i.e., How to go about developing the key competencies?), and (3) revise the underlying funding models (i.e., What actions by whom can facilitate this?). There is considerable need and scope to improve the understanding and management of human capital development so that SSOs can fully realize their mission and community objectives. Multiple integrated calls to action for practitioners and scholars are provided.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLeading and Managing in the Social Sector
Subtitle of host publicationStrategies for Advancing Human Dignity and Social Justice
EditorsS. Aqeel Tirmizi, John D. Vogelsang
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9783319470450
ISBN (Print)9783319470443
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameManagement for Professionals
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
ISSN (Print)2192-8096
ISSN (Electronic)2192-810X


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