Cracking the legal sphere can be tough and with last week being National Apprenticeship Week, we hear from Sue Husband, Director of the National Apprenticeship Service, who speaks on how the legal sector can benefit from an apprenticeship scheme.
Apprenticeships are at the heart of the Government’s drive to equip people of all ages with the skills that employers need. They provide the opportunity, and the means, to help address the skills shortages reported by many industries. Across our legal services sector in particular, apprenticeships play a vital role in helping firms grow and prosper. With the sector growing rapidly, it’s important that employers take steps to ensure a pipeline of skills for future success. Apprenticeships can help make firms across the legal sector future fit by upskilling existing workers and attracting new, diverse talent.
Opportunities for employers
There has never been a better time to take on an apprentice. Firms can grow their own talent and develop a motivated, skilled and qualified staff in a cost-effective way in line with their workforce needs. Now, employer-led apprenticeship reforms are making apprenticeships even more valuable to employers by putting those employers in control of the development of apprenticeships. Employers can choose the skills, training organisation, apprenticeships – and how those apprenticeships are delivered – to ensure they meet their organisational needs.
Apprentices bring enthusiasm, energy and fresh ideas to any organisation, contributing to its development and success. As well as encouraging a more diverse range of people into legal careers, apprenticeships also encourage skilled workers to progress their careers in the industry too. Degree and Higher Apprenticeships in particular mean firms can train more of their employees in the high-level skills that are critical for business growth, while offering ambitious school leavers or experienced professionals looking to upskill the opportunity to learn at university, to degree level.
Meeting business needs
Many businesses have already made apprenticeships a vital part of their strategic plans to recruit the skills they need in the future. Firms including Womble Bond Dickinson and Addleshaw Goddard have recently introduced the first intake of solicitor apprentices, while Weightmans paralegal Jordan Coulton last year became the first in the country to complete the Higher Apprenticeship in legal services – an important milestone.
But there is, of course, lots more work to do to ensure that apprenticeships work for the sector as a whole. We are in constant conversation with employers across legal services to ensure that their needs are met while helping them attract the right talent and boost the quality of candidates applying for apprenticeships. We’ve already launched a programme, “Amazing Apprenticeships” to help inform teachers and schools about the benefits of young people becoming apprentices and we will be working with key employers in legal services to drive further awareness of the great vacancies on offer through waves of marketing under the “Get In Go Far” campaign.
Since the Apprenticeship Levy and other reforms were introduced last year there has been a period of significant change for employers and there will understandably be challenges for them as they adjust and respond. Throughout this time we must not lose sight of why we introduced our reforms in the first place – to put quality at the heart of this programme for apprentices, and putting control in the hands of employers. The feedback we have had shows employers are positive about the reforms and taking their time to plan high quality, well thought through apprenticeship provision that meets their specific needs.
Since May 2015 there have been more than 1.2 million individuals starting an apprenticeship, which will provide each of them with the opportunity to gain the skills they need to get on in life. This is a fantastic achievement but only the start as we want to make sure all legal employers have the skilled workforce they need.
National Apprenticeship Week 2018 took place from 5 to 9 March. The theme is ‘Apprenticeships Work’ to showcase how apprenticeships work for individuals, employers, local communities and the wider economy.
Employers looking to find out more about taking on an apprentice should visit: hireanapprentice.campaign.gov.uk. People looking for more information and support on applying for an apprenticeship can visit: getingofar.gov.uk