A group of charities is bidding to establish a social sector degree apprenticeship in autumn next year.
The Scout Association is leading the initiative, which chief executive Matt Hyde said would harness the enthusiasm for change of 16 to 24 year-olds, now the most likely age group to volunteer.
"Young people would receive a pathway to employment, get paid and earn a degree," said Hyde.
He said charities supporting the initiative could offset tuition fees against the apprenticeship levy, which the government introduced this year on companies with annual pay bills of more than £3m.
The newly formed Institute for Apprenticeships is consulting on the proposal until Monday next week. Hyde urged people to submit views before then.
If the institute approves the idea, it will work with the charities, as well as Queen Mary University of London and the University of Liverpool, which are also backing the initiative, on developing a curriculum.
Hyde said he envisaged that apprenticeships would last for three or four years and cater for an annual intake of 20 students. Course content would be 20 per cent learning and 80 per cent practical experience, he added.
"The time is ripe to help young people who are seeking values-driven careers," said Hyde.