A degree of change
After three years of development, today sees the launch of a degree apprenticeship for social change. Delivered by Queen Mary University of London this is a ground-breaking degree relevant for a generation of young people who want to leave the world better than they found it. In short it enables students to earn, learn and change the world.
A growing body of evidence demonstrates that we have a generation of young people that are arguably the most civicly-minded generation since the 1950s. Building on earlier studies by Demos and the #will campaign the RSA recently published its Teenagency report.This showed that 84 per cent of young people want to help others but only 52 per cent believe that they can make a positive difference in their communities. And 68 per cent of young people said they had participated in volunteering or other forms of social action, but just 5 per cent of adults thought that young people today are very likely to do social action.
Against the backdrop of a negative political discourse and a climate of pessimism the desire for young people to foster stronger communities represents a cause for both celebration and optimism. This generation is seeking meaningful and fulfilling career paths that enable them to make a bigger social impact.
It’s surprising therefore, that unlike in countries such as Australia, Canada and the US, there are no UK undergraduate degree focused on social change careers that are meeting this demand.
At the Scouts, our most recent impact measurement research found that young people in Scouting volunteered for 5.8 hours more per month than non-Scouts. That’s 70 hours more per year. Across all of our 10-17 years olds, this suggests a staggering 12,000,000 more hours of volunteering, because of Scouting. When we give young people the opportunity and tools to make change, they grasp the opportunity with both hands.
Degree apprenticeships will allow those inspired by such engagement to take this further and convert it into a valuable qualification and working lives with a focus on positive social action. It’s about helping young people develop the skills they need to build on their passion to bring about social change, and turn that it into tangible action.
An opportunity for the social sector
This new tide of young people wanting to create social change represents a major opportunity for the social sector (charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises) who are seeking to attract a new and more diverse pipeline of talent. With charity sector colleagues we considered how to develop a degree that supported the development of people with the skills, knowledge and behaviours to succeed in a non-profit environment and make a bigger social impact.
By taking a multi-disciplinary approach we explored how to develop people to lead change, manage people, analyse politics and culture, develop policy, understand finance and ensure self-management. We sought to open up a new pathways in to the social sector for people from diverse backgrounds. And that is why we have developed a social change degree apprenticeship. The full title is Charted Manager Degree Apprenticeship (Social Change), it’s a four-year course and the first intake will be September 2019
Degree apprenticeships allow people to study for an undergraduate degree and be placed with an employer where they receive a wage whilst they are studying. Employers can offset the student’s tuition fees against the apprentice levy (either their own levy if they have a wage bill of over £3m or potentially another employer’s under-spent levy). This means that while the student studies a degree that equips them for a career in social change, they don’t pay any tuition fees, they earn a wage and the employer, and the charity sector attracts new talent. And it’s not just for school leavers either. Anyone can study for this degree apprenticeship, including existing employees.
We specifically chose Queen Mary because of its history and impressive track record on widening participation. 91 per cent of its students are from state school; 60 per cent are BAME; 42 per cent are first into higher education; and 27 per cent are from households where the annual taxable income is less than £10,000.
Time for charities to take action
This degree apprenticeship represents an innovative, low-risk and practical solution to the sector’s concerns about attracting talent from diverse backgrounds. It’s time to move beyond blogs and tweets about this critical issue and actually commit to something that can positively respond to the demand of a younger generation. If we do what we’ve always done we’ll get what we’ve always got.
Get involved and be part of the change
If you are an employer in the social sector and you want to find about more about the Social Change Degree Apprenticeship or commit to employing an apprentice please email [email protected]