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Third Sector Apprenticeships are brand new training programmes specifically designed for charities and social enterprises to help them make a difference to people and communities. They develop practical skills in three key areas for third sector organisations – campaigning, fundraising and volunteer management.

An Apprenticeship is a combination of paid employment and training – you might already have heard the term “earn while you learn”. That is what Apprenticeships allow people to do. The coalition government is committed to increasing the number of Apprenticeship places available, and has increased funding to encourage people to take them up. This is because Apprenticeships work. Research into the impacts of Apprenticeships shows that the experience is a positive one for the vast majority of Apprentices and employers.

Learning Trade Skills, together with people who work in the third sector, have developed three Apprenticeships specifically for charities and social enterprises so you have training programmes available specifically tailored to meet the needs of your organisation. The organisation Fair Train exists to build capacity in the third sector to employ apprentices and can provide you with help, advice and support, and match you with a training provider in your region. If you are considering employing an apprentice please contact Fair Train in the first instance.

To give you an added incentive, new funding is now available from the National Apprenticeship Service / Skills Funding Agency. For more information, please see the links to the funding databases LAD and LARA (two links for each apprenticeship).

What is an Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are practical training courses (called frameworks) that an Apprentice studies while also doing a job in your organisation. Apprentices spend most of their time doing their job but have a few hours out each week to learn practical skills on a course (framework) that has been tailored to meet the particular practical skills your organisation needs.

Why don’t voluntary sector organisations employ more apprentices?

We have identified a number of reasons for there being a low take up of apprenticeships in our sector. These are:

  • lack of awareness/history of taking on apprentices; and
  • gaps in provision of suitable apprenticeships for the sector.

We have worked with partner organisations including the National Apprenticeship Service and Fair Train to address these two considerations and have developed the three new apprenticeships specifically for the sector in Campaigning, Fundraising and Volunteer Management.

What do Apprentices bring to organisations?

Apprentices have a personal investment in the organisation where they do their training. They have chosen to gain skills and qualifications in your organisation. This means they are enthusiastic, keen to do well and have a track record of staying with the organisation after their Apprenticeship finishes – meaning that investing in an Apprentice is one of the best decisions you can take to make your organisation sustainable. You are also providing new opportunities for young people to enter our sector, which currently has an aging workforce of university graduates and a real shortage of younger people from more diverse backgrounds.

Political support for apprenticeships

  • “Apprenticeships are central to our mission to raise skill levels.” John Hayes, minister of state for Further Education, Skills and Lifelong Learning, July 2010Expanding apprenticeships is a large part of the agenda for reforming the UK skills system. £150 million of public spending which has been safeguarded from over £6 billion of cuts by the Treasury to fund 50,000 new apprenticeship places.To find our more download our apprenticeships brief which has information on the policy context, the political consensuses and differences and the main apprenticeship institutions.The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) was established in 2009 to take complete responsibility for apprenticeships, bringing together activity previously undertaken by numerous different organisations.

Do Apprentices offer good value?

  • Taking on an apprentice will provide you with the talent and resource needed to achieve your organisations current and future social goals. Apprentices learn the skills and knowledge your organisation needs, whilst gathering valuable workplace experience throughout their training programme. This makes them flexible to your organisation needs and the needs of your partners and collaborators, gives them an understanding of the sector and your organisational culture and establishes them as an important member of your team.

    41% of employers say that their Apprentices make a valuable contribution to the business during their training period, while a third (33%) report that Apprentices add value within their first few weeks – or even from day one.

    Overall employers say that the benefits of employing an Apprentice outweigh the costs.

    • 59% report that training Apprentices is more cost-effective than hiring skilled staff*
    • 59% believe that Apprenticeships lead to lower overall training costs*
    • 53% feel that Apprentices reduce recruitment costs as they have good retention records *

    In short, Apprenticeships offer good value skills for charities and social enterprises. You get better training, better people and better value.

    *Populus Apprenticeships Research, on behalf of the Learning and Skills Council, January 2008-February 2008

Do I have to be a big charity?

  • Apprentices are good for organisations of all sizes – you don’t have to be a big charity to consider an Apprentice. Smaller organisations often benefit more from brining in someone with bespoke skills designed to fill gaps in their existing skillset.

Why are they important?

Economic recovery and long-term prosperity in the UK requires people to have the right skills appropriate to the changing economy. Skilled people are the building blocks of successful businesses and there is a clear link between productivity and skills investment – a one percent point increase in training is worth around £6 billion a year to the UK economy.

Apprenticeships are a proven way of training people on the job and have the potential to provide exciting new routes into our sector for people who currently don’t traditionally think of a career in the voluntary sector.

What’s new for third sector organisations?

For the first time, charities, social enterprises and other third sector organisations now have frameworks that are designed to develop practical skills in campaigning, fundraising and volunteer management. These can be tailored by expert third sector training providers to meet the particular skills that your organisation needs.

The new Third Sector Apprenticeships have been developed by Learning Trade Skills, in partnership with over 60 sector practitioners. They are endorsed by the Institute of Fundraising and the Association of Volunteer Managers.

We have also worked closely with Fairtrain. Fairtrain is an organisation which has been set up as a new and dynamic way for employers to work together to develop the skills of their workforce through apprenticeships, work based learning and other initiatives. Fairtrain can helps organisations within the third sector to fund, recruit and also train apprentices for the three new apprenticeships. Fairtrain can also provide information on offering apprenticeships. For more information call thier advice line on: 0844 669 7430 or visit

What employers say about Apprenticeships

  • 76% say that Apprenticeships mean that their organisation is more productive;
  • 80% feel that Apprenticeships reduce staff turnover;
  • 83% rely on their Apprenticeships programme to provide skilled workers for the future;
  • 88% believe that Apprenticeships lead to a more motivated and satisfied workforce*

*Populus Apprenticeships Research, on behalf of the Learning and Skills Council

“Many of the Beatbullying Apprentices are potential managers of the future, this is succession planning across the entire charity. That’s how good they are.” Emma-Jane Cross, CEO Beatbullying

What do Apprenticeships cost?

  • The government pays the full training costs for Apprentices aged 16 to 18. The training costs for Apprentices aged 19 to 24 is split equally between the government and the employer, so you will need to pay up to 50%.If you take on an Apprentice aged 25 and over you will need to pay the full training costs. However, you may be able to apply for funding to help with the costs. And in 2010 the government announced that it will be providing further funding of £150 million for adult Apprenticeships so there is currently funding available to help employers.Like any other member of your staff, you are also responsible for the wages of your Apprentice. You will be required to pay an Apprentice the national minimum wage which currently stands at £2.60 an hour, although a large number of organisations do pay their apprentices a higher rate.

How do I take on an Apprentice?

  • Taking on an Apprentice is very straightforward. You are matched with a specialist voluntary sector training provider who tailors the Third Sector Apprenticeship to meet your organisation’s specific skills needs, and who can help with recruitment too. Managing an Apprentice in the workplace is no different to managing any other member of staff. You can choose to recruit a new Apprentice or train an existing member of staff or volunteer. Fair Train can help with this.

I am interested in employing an Apprentice, what do I do now?

  • There are several ways to get started if you want to employ an apprentice:

    • If you are considering taking on an apprentice, please contact Ellen Ryan, Business Development Manager at Fair Train at or call Ellen on 07775582184. Fair Train exists to support the third sector in building capacity to develop apprenticeships across the sector. Further details about Fair Train can be found at The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) can help you get started by appointing an Apprenticeships representative to discuss your specific training requirements. Contact NAS at, or call 08000 150 600 for more details.
    • Alternatively, if you already have an employee who you think would be interested/suitable in taking an Apprenticeship; you could approach them to see if they would be willing to start training.
    • You could also advertise for an apprentice. There are several different ways that you could advertise. For example, you could use the Job Centre Plus website (, job agencies, specialist Apprenticeship websites or local newspapers
    • The National Apprenticeship Service (NAS) Apprenticeship vacancies website includes a search page for employers looking to find a training provider in their area. This service also lets you search for training providers offering the training and Apprenticeship frameworks you require. The form can be found online at:

    Please also see our Guidance Document which provides further detailed information on the new Apprenticeships.