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Launch of legal apprenticeships a ‘watershed moment’

Firms now have ‘alternative recruitment choices’, Skills for Justice chief says

14 March 2013

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Alan Woods, chief executive of Skills for Justice (SfJ) has said law firms now have ‘alternative recruitment choices’ following the launch of the new Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services on Monday.

Woods described launch of the scheme as a “watershed moment” which could change legal businesses “absolutely for the better”.

The new legal apprenticeship, developed by SfJ, the National Apprenticeship Service (NAS), CILEx, Damar Training and Pearson, is equivalent to the first year of a degree and offers school leavers a professional pathway to becoming a qualified fee-earner or paralegal.

The launch came at the kick-off to National Apprenticeship Week, the National Apprenticeship Service’s annual drive to celebrate and promote apprenticeships across all UK businesses and industries.

Acknowledging the dramatic changes being experienced by the legal sector, Woods said it would only be with the benefit of hindsight that we could understand their full extent.

Woods said: “We will of course await final publication of the legal education and training review to see how alternative routes to accessing the solicitor’s profession will work.

“What is really important is that there are now opportunities for legal services businesses to develop alternative recruitment choices, and they do create a quality path for young people to work appropriately at all levels” he said, adding that the new framework was “developed for employers”.

In a speech the following morning at a seminar hosted by Lord Neuberger at the House of Lords, Woods expanded on the benefit of the apprenticeships for businesses, highlighting the government’s investment in apprentice training and saying “apprentices can change your business absolutely for the better”.

The government covers the cost of training for all apprentices between 16 and 18, up to their nineteenth birthday. Additionally, the Apprenticeship Grants for Employers scheme offers £1,500 for small businesses, under 1,000 employees, if they take on an apprentice and have not already recruited one in the past year.

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