The Open To All campaign aims to encourage more inclusive recruitment practices among employers so that candidates’ suitability for a role is judged on their skills and experience rather than whether they have a degree.
Children England and the National Children’s Bureau (NCB), who are behind the initiative, say charities are missing out on a pool of talented young people that could fill positions that do not necessarily require a degree.
They say the charity sector should be leading on the issue of inclusive employment practices, and hope that signing up to the Open To All campaign will become a “badge of honour” for employers in much the same way as paying the Living Wage is.
Writing in the latest issue of CYP Now magazine, Kathy Evans, chief executive of Children England, said the campaign has been launched to counter the growing trend in the charity sector of entry-level positions being taken by graduates.
“Increasingly, routes such as on-the-job experience or from service user to expert practitioner aren’t open to younger people,” she said.
“Junior communications posts are going to people with PhDs, showing just how unsustainable the situation has become.”
With many young people put off going to university because of high tuition fees, Evans said she hopes the campaign will signal to school pupils that they could have "brilliant careers and satisfying jobs in a voluntary sector that won’t ask them to take on such heavy student debts”.
Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of NCB, who does not have a degree herself, said: “We need the most skilled, intelligent, committed people to work in our sector because children and young people deserve the best.
“A university degree is a fine achievement but it does not guarantee quality and workplaces that require one create an unnecessary barrier for many of the brightest and best.”
The campaign encourages any charity using phrases such as “degree or equivalent” in recruitment materials to opt for more inclusive language focused on the skills and experience required. It also wants employers to pledge to require a degree only for roles where it is technically essential.
An Open To All campaign page on the Children England website provides alternative recruitment copy that employers can use when advertising roles, and examples of professionals without degrees working in the charity sector.