Background to the Third Sector National Learning Alliance

Work on the TSNLA began in 2006 through a partnership between the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) and the UK Workforce Hub. They were soon joined by a group of voluntary and community sector (VCS) organisations acting as an informal Steering Group.

The founding members were the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action (NAVCA); UK Workforce Hub; Foyer Federation; Learning Curve; Federation of Community Development Learning (FCDL); Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Forum; NIACE; and Lancashire Learning Consortium.

A national consultation exercise conducted by NIACE on behalf of the Steering Group overwhelmingly endorsed the idea of a strong, national 'voice' for Third Sector providers, and the TSNLA was born!


As a second tier organisation, funding for the TSNLA is always challenging, and our Board of Trustees donate their time, knowledge and expertise. Although general membership of the TSNLA is free of charge, there are also Investor Members whose fees go some way towards paying for the costs of the organisation.

The TSNLA applies for funding from national sources to fund specific projects and initiatives.  It has a good track record in delivering such commissioned projects, including:

  • Developing a new CPD Professional Exchange project - 2016/17
  • CPD Bursary Scheme - funded by the Education and Training Foundation 2015/16
  • Prevent workshops in London and Leeds 2016
  • The CPD Needs of Third Sector staff in adult learning and skills - 2015
  • Holding national conferences in partnership with BIS
  • Third Sector Voice in the Work of the Foundation - 2014
  • Research into Third Sector providers - BIS funded - 2013

The TSNLA is also looking to increase its funding from corporate sources.  If you are a business and would like more information about how working with the TSNLA can help you meet targets for Corporate Social Responsibility, support local employment and skills, and make a difference to disadvantaged people in your local community, please contact the TSNLA.