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Qualifying apprenticeship on ice

BPP defers launch of qualifying apprenticeship pending final LETR report

8 March 2013

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BPP defers launch of qualifying apprenticeship pending final LETR report

BPP has deferred the launch of its qualifying apprenticeship for solicitors to September 2014 following the delay in the  publication of the Legal Education and Training Review’s (LETR) report.

LETR's report, which will include regulatory provisions for legal apprenticeships, was due to be published in December 2012 but is now not expected before May.

To adhere to the regulator’s qualification criteria, and because BPP intend to offer a qualifying degree as part of the route, the exact details of the content of the apprenticeships can’t be finalised until the review’s recommendations have been made.

According to BPP Professional Education’s managing director for London, Alison Wells, if the criteria was not to change, BPP would want to cover LPC, LLB and training contract regulation within the apprenticeship.

“We don’t know what’s going to come out in the wash for the review, but the proposal is that it covers everything that the SRA stipulates is a requirement to qualify”, she said.

BPP first proposed the new route to qualification to the SRA in May 2012 and all plans remain subject to the regulator’s validation. According to Wells the SRA have been supportive of the potential to widen access to the profession and increase diversity. The regulator is expected to enter discussions with the UK’s dedicated apprenticeship portal, the National Apprenticeship Service, imminently.

If the route goes ahead, it will take apprentices five, rather than the traditional six, years to qualify as a solicitor.

Starting at level 4, which is equivalent to the first year of a degree, the apprentices will rotate round departments with the greatest need for support.

The City firms that BPP are marketing the apprenticeship to will have to commit to the apprenticeship for a minimum of one year. On completion of level 4, a decision on whether to pursue the next three levels of apprenticeship to qualification would be taken.

Wells believes it is unlikely that firms would take apprentices on with the intention of terminating their employment after the first year.

“The buy-in is the whole concept that it is an alternative route to qualification. It’s not about ‘these are alternatives to paralegals’, our proposition is this is an alternative route to qualification, widening access, which is what the SRA want, stressing social mobility and an alternative to going to university”, she said.

BBP’s qualifying route should not be confused with the Higher Apprenticeships in Legal Services being launched on Monday, which will enable school leavers to pursue an apprenticeship pathway to becoming a qualified fee-earner or paralegal but will not, in isolation, qualify them to practice as a lawyer.

National Apprenticeship Week runs from the 11-16 March.

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Education & Training