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Firing it up: How Fletchers are bucking a national apprenticeship downturn by offering legal and non-legal apprenticeships

Written by Lorna Bailey, Associate & Head of Learning and Development

January 3, 2019

As today marks the beginning of #NationalApprenticeshipWeek Fletchers Solicitors are delighted to present the experiences of current apprentices who are earning and learning at a national law firm.

Each and every one of the apprentices have chosen a route that works for them, allowing time to study, enjoy their free time and more importantly gain valuable workplace experience that undergraduate university courses can’t guarantee.

Fletcher’s Apprenticeships explained by our Associate & Head of Learning and Development

“Solicitor Apprenticeships (trailblazers) provide an excellent route into the legal industry, allowing the Apprentice to study for their degree, Solicitors Qualifying Exam and obtain their qualifying legal experience whilst working in a successful law firm.

“The Apprenticeship levy pays the cost, meaning no expensive university tuition fees and allowing the Trailblazers to ‘earn while they learn.’

“Our non-legal apprenticeships have proved a huge success in bringing into the organisation talented and committed individuals who have learned and adapted quickly to become exceptional team members.

“The non-legal route provides opportunities to gain hands-on practical experience in ways which may not be possible in more traditional training models.”

Background to the Apprenticeship Levy

All UK employers with a pay bill of over £3 million per year pay the apprenticeship levy. The levy is set at 0.5% of the value of the employer’s pay bill, minus an apprenticeship levy allowance of £15,000 per financial year. The funds generated by the levy have to be spent on apprenticeship training costs. The government tops ups the funds paid by the employer by 10%. [Source, Powell, Phelan, House of Commons, 2019]

Megann McKay, a Level 3 Paralegal believes that undertaking her apprenticeship will open more doors for her in the long term.

She said: “I feel as though completing an apprenticeship is investing in my future.

“I will have a greater variety of roles available to me after I have completed my apprenticeship.”

For many, traditional undergraduate university courses aren’t necessarily the best option:

“If the cost of pursuing law through the traditional route is prohibitive, you should definitely consider completing an apprenticeship”

Despite Megann’s outlook, current apprenticeship data published by the House of Commons shows that in 2017/18, there were actually 125,200 fewer apprenticeship starts in England than the previous year.

Some have argued that the fall in apprentice starts is due to the introduction of an updated funding system.  

The report reads: “The way in which the government funds the training and assessment costs of apprenticeships was revised in May 2017, and the apprenticeship levy was introduced.

“Prior to the changes being introduced the majority of apprenticeship starts were on apprenticeship frameworks.

“For this type of apprenticeship, the government paid all the training costs for 16-18 year olds, half the training costs for 19-23 year olds and up to half for apprentices aged 24 and over.

“Extra support was provided to apprentices living in the most deprived parts of the country or those in areas where training costs were higher.”

CEO, Ed Fletcher is proud to support #NAW2019

Even with a fall in apprentice starts, Fletchers are more determined than ever to invest in the futures of both legal and non-legal apprenticeships.

Apprenticeships are an increasingly important part of Fletcher’s growth strategy, with opportunities to offer valuable work experience in a commercial organisation at the heart of the firm’s ambitions.

The apprenticeships that Fletchers offer are a type of work-based training; combining training and real work.

They are available to people of all ages, not just 16-19-year-olds and are often an alternative to further education or college.

With a Fletcher’s apprenticeship, individuals will have a job within the industry that they want to be in and will earn throughout the process.

Jon Hocker, Learning and Development Advisor, is proud to promote the fact that Fletchers aren’t just offering apprenticeships starts for prospective lawyers.

Jon said: “I am to support all team members across Fletchers, regardless of the line of work they’re in. Currently and historically we support finance, I.T. and Business Admin, but there are other areas of Fletchers I would like to explore further, such as management and higher level I.T. apprenticeships.”

One of Fletchers’ current non-legal apprentices is Jack Pounder.

Jack started his apprenticeship journey when he joined Fletchers on work experience whilst studying his Business and Enterprise Level 3 at Southport College.

Early on, Jack’s positive attitude and ability was recognised and he was encouraged to apply for a Fletcher’s Business and Admin apprenticeship.

He said: “There’s a real friendly feel here. It’s a good environment and so welcoming.

“I feel like Fletchers has set me up for a better future.”

Jack Pounder is reaping the rewards of being a Fletcher’s non-legal apprentice

One of the major bonuses for choosing an apprenticeship is the fact you earn while you learn.

Ceri Dudley is currently undertaking her apprenticeship to become a Chartered Legal Executive in the Serious Injury team and she believes that as uncertainty around Brexit grows along with year-on-year inflation, what Fletchers can offer is a secure, economical way to learn your craft.

She said:  “I would definitely recommend completing an apprenticeship route over the traditional legal route with the biggest benefit being of course, costs.

“The LPC is costly and this seems to be the routed pushed for future lawyers at university. The apprenticeship is a lot more cost-friendly and, as above, you have the chance to consider the legal profession from a business perspective also rather than a purely legal point of view. This, ultimately, assists to provide commercial awareness.”

Tech and online retail giant Amazon share Ceri’s logic.

They recently announced plans to launch 1000 UK-based apprenticeships by 2021 with a pay-scale ranging from an entry level salary of £9.50 – £10.50 an hour, up to £30,000 a year.

The apprenticeships will consist of nine programmes, lasting between 13 months and four years, across IT, software engineering, robotics, leadership and technology as well as safety and human resources.

Josh Whittam, who operates in the Court Protection Team, believes that the overall working experience his apprenticeship has given him has surpassed anything he ever imagined.

Josh said:

“My apprenticeship allows me to meet and work with some of the best lawyers in the business, building on everything I learn at University all whilst I earn a wage.

“By the time I am newly qualified, I will already have at least 5 years’ experience behind me meaning that I can then focus on becoming the best lawyer I can be rather than having to start learning how to be one.”

Josh Whittam with fellow legal apprentice, Bruce Wignall 

If you have any questions around starting your own apprenticeship journey, please contact us today at: jobs@fs.co.uk