Open to All' campaign

We must ditch our over-reliance on degrees to be the best we can be as a sector

The charity sector is missing out on thousands of talented potential staff by requiring a degree when it isn't necessary for the role, argues the Open To All campaign, launched today by Children England and the National Children's Bureau (NCB). Now that getting a degree means a lifetime of debt for most young people, and roles from administrator to Chief Executive can be done successfully by a candidate with skills and experience gained outside a university, the charity sector should be leading the way in recruiting as inclusively as possible.

Kathy Evans, CEO of Children England, says: "We know brilliant leaders in the charity sector who never got a degree, and whose skill and passion for their cause would never be questioned. But my fear is that, increasingly, routes such as on-the-job experience or from service user to expert practitioner aren't open to younger people. Junior communications posts are going to people with PhDs, showing just how unsustainable the situation has become. The children's charity sector especially has a duty to prove that we are open to all young people."

The campaign encourages any charity currently using phrases such as 'degree or equivalent' in recruitment materials to opt for more inclusive messages instead, and make sure recruitment practices assess every candidate's appropriate skill and experience, rather than using degrees as a threshold.

Anna Feuchtwang, CEO of the National Children's Bureau (NCB), does not have a degree. She comments: "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."

Open To All welcomes any charity that will pledge to require a degree only for roles where it is technically essential. Ideas for alternative recruitment copy, stories from sector professionals without degrees and a badge demonstrating the Open To All pledge are available at www.childrenengland.org.uk/open-to-all.