International development charities launch apprenticeship scheme

ActionAid UK, Plan UK and Christian Aid will be recruiting seven apprentices in conjuction with City and Islington College, London, to help young people gain entry to the international development sector

The charities offering apprenticeships
The charities offering apprenticeships

Three charities have joined forces to launch an apprenticeship scheme to help young people gain entry to the international development sector.

ActionAid UK, Plan UK and Christian Aid will be recruiting a total of seven apprentices through the scheme, which is being run in conjunction with City and Islington College in London.

Successful applicants will attend the 12-month Business Administration Apprenticeship Scheme on day release from the charities, where they will receive on-the-job training.

The three charities have committed to paying the recruits the London Living Wage – an hourly rate of £8.80.

This is considerably higher than allowed for by existing legislation, which says people can be paid £2.68 an hour for the first year of their apprenticeship, then the national minimum wage for the second year – this is £3.72 for people aged under 18, £5.03 for those aged between 18 and 20 and £6.31 for people aged 21 and over.

ActionAid UK and Plan UK will each employ three people and Christian Aid will have one apprentice.

The charities will fund the scheme internally and aim to employ people who live in areas close to their head offices.

Richard Miller, executive director of ActionAid, said that the charity wanted to have a positive effect on the lives of people living in poverty, including the "lowest-paid Londoners", not just those in developing countries. He said it also wanted to be an ethical employer.

"The introduction of an apprenticeship scheme will enable young people, including those without university qualifications, to gain entry to the international development sector," he said. "We hope that by recruiting apprentices from the local community and from a different range of backgrounds we will create more entry routes into our organisation.

"Working in collaboration with Plan UK and Christian Aid will allow us to share our learning and ensure that our apprentices have the opportunity to earn while they learn in a real job, gaining a real qualification and a real future."

Tanya Barron, chief executive of Plan UK, said that the charity viewed the programme as another way for it to encourage meaningful youth participation. "I also think an apprenticeship scheme will help us achieve a more diverse workforce, attracting young people from different backgrounds," she said. "We hope this scheme will be good for young people, but also for Plan UK."

Frank McLoughlin, principal of City and Islington College and a board member of ActionAid, said it was a "fantastic development, which has huge potential across the third sector".

He said there were three ways in which the charities would benefit from taking on apprentices – giving real job opportunities to young people, forming invaluable links with the local community and rejuvenating the organisation’s HR strategy by "growing its own talent".

There will be no guaranteed job once the apprenticeship has finished but it is envisaged that the scheme will make the apprentices better equipped to apply for positions within the organisations.

The charities, which plan to start advertising the positions in the next few days, hope to launch a third-sector specific apprenticeship programme in the future.

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