Is it for me


There are a range of questions and answers below that might help you in deciding whether you want to apply to be a Boardroom Apprentice and indeed if being on a board is for you.

Is this programme really for me:

Q: I am too young or too old?

A: Anyone from the age of 16 can apply to be on a board of a public body or third sector organisation. (Some public appointments stipulate 18+, but this is noted). The Boardroom Apprentice is open to anyone over the age of 16. Our youngest Apprentice last year year was 22, and the oldest 61.

Q: Are all the host boards in Belfast?

A: No. There are a number of boards which are located in the North West, Southern and South Eastern regions. When considering these boards, remember that their meetings will take place there (for example: Cookstown, Craigavon, Coleraine, Dundonald, Bangor, Portadown, Newry, Banbridge, Derry, Lurgan, Antrim, Lisburn. ).

Q: What about the time commitment for the Boards?

A: You will need to attend Board and Committee meetings. These may be half/full day meetings and can take place during the day or in the evenings. The Boards may also have away days, and other events/activities they would like you to attend. So you must be able to make the commitment and have flexibility during the year for additional opportunities.

Q: I applied last year for the pilot, does that rule me out from applying this year.

A: No it does not. You can apply as long as you meet the eligibility criteria.

Q: Do I get to be appointed to the Host Board I am matched to after the 12 month place.

A: No. This is a 12-month placement. It is hoped that you will be in a great position to go forward to apply for board roles across the third and public sector after gaining the experience, undertaking the training and getting the support you need.

Q: Am I a fully signed up legal member of the Board as a Boardroom Apprentice.

A: No. This is a placement, you will technically be an observer, but the boards want this to be a real practical experience for you, so you will get to be involved, but not in the decision making. There is a detailed memorandum of understand which you sign with your host board. This details the responsibilities, expectations and confidentiality requirements. This is provided once you and your board start your journey.

Q: What if I am not interested in any of the listed host boards. 

A: Do not apply. You need to be interested in the work of the organisation in order to dedicate your time and commitment to it. If you are not interested you will find it hard to remain.

Q: What if I cannot attend some of the training?

A: You are not eligible to apply. Full attendance for all the sessions is required. Do not apply if you know you will not be able to meet it fully.

Is being on a Board really for me:

Q: Being on a Board Is not for the likes of me?

A: Public and Voluntary Board positions are open to anyone who wants to play their role in society.

Q: When I look into boardrooms currently, I do not see people like me!

A: To have our boardrooms reflective of the society we serve, we need more people from across all walks of life and diverse backgrounds to come forward. This programme is aimed at people throughout our society to gain the support, training and experience so that they can then go on and service. We can only change how our boardrooms look when more people come forward and apply. This programme is a catalyst for that.

Q: Sure, I would never be appointed?

A: Stop ruling yourself out. You have a set of skills and experience you are offering to a board that is it. It is up to the Board to decide whether to appoint you, the decision for you to make is to apply. You cannot be appointed if you do not apply.

Q: I have been out of work for five years raising our family, surely, I have nothing to offer!

A: You have absolutely plenty to offer. These roles are about making decisions that impact on society and communities. Every citizen has a role to play in that, including you.

Q: You need qualifications to be on a board?

A: No. It’s about the skills, qualities and experience you offer, not qualifications.

Q: Do you not need experience to be on a Board

A: Yes, and we all have experience in many different things. But we can’t get experience of being on a board until we are appointed to one. That is where this programme is unique. You get experience, you get learning and you get support. After that you have loads to take with you to offer to other boards in the future.

Q: I work fulltime, how can I get involved in a board that meets during the day?

A: You need to ask your employer for their support before you apply. Employers are encouraged to see this programme as as part of your personal and professional development a bit like a secondment. Many employers are keen to do corporate social responsible activities. Enabling their staff to share their skills and give their time is a great way to support a charity or a public service. There is a huge benefit for your employer in the skills you develop and bring back into your workplace. It’s a win-win for all. You need your employers approval first before you can apply. Remember, it is the time needed for the Training and the Board commitments.