Minister to act on potential charity shop apprenticeship scheme

Idea put forward by Paul Farmer of Mind is embraced by skills minister John Hayes

Paul Farmer
Paul Farmer

The skills minister, John Hayes, will organise a meeting to discuss the possibility of setting up a charity shop apprenticeship scheme.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of the mental health charity Mind, put forward the idea at an event yesterday at which ministers and charities discussed the government’s new £1bn Youth Contract.

The Youth Contract, which begins in April, was set up to provide at least 410,000 work placements for 18 to 24-year-olds in three years. This includes 20,000 apprenticeships, for which organisations will be paid £1,500 each.

Hayes told Third Sector he was impressed by Farmer’s idea and intended to "pull together a group of organisations to see if I can bring it about".

He said he would also invite businesses to the meeting to discuss their involvement. Both charities and businesses could benefit from a scheme that developed retail skills in charity shops, said Hayes.

The government is keen to increase the number of apprenticeships, and Hayes said there were not enough of them in the third sector.

"Apprenticeships are growing rapidly and I’m keen for third sector organisations to be involved at every level," he said.

Farmer said the huge number of charity shops across the country meant there was scope for such a scheme.

He said Mind had already used its network of 115 shops to develop people’s retail skills and an apprenticeship scheme could take this further.

Farmer stressed that apprentices would not replace volunteers but would develop broader skills and be paid.

"It’s encouraging that John Hayes has picked up on this," he said.

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