Higher Apprenticeships: what’s the catch?
For employees “Too good to be true.” “What’s the catch?” “Are they real?” These are just some of the responses that we frequently get when we talk to young people about Higher Apprenticeships.
It’s easy to understand their cynicism — after all, research has shown that 75 per cent of young people are told about university education, compared to just 49 per cent who get to find out about Apprenticeships.
It’s no surprise then that when we speak to young people they seem confused that no one has thought to tell them about a way to get a degree-level qualification and work experience with the added bonuses of no debt and employers citing Higher Apprenticeships as the most employable candidates.
One issue is that Higher Apprenticeships are still relatively new, with many of the existing schemes being rolled out in the last five years. So although there is still an element that Higher Apprenticeships are just growing in awareness, there is much more schools and colleges can do in appraising students of the benefits.
As with all levels of Apprenticeship, there is still a perception that it is mainly manual trades that they are suitable for. This overlooks the fact that they are now available in over 40 subjects and can lead to careers in areas such as law, engineering and media — areas which were once the sole preserve of university graduates.
Until last year, anyone wanting a career in law would have had only two options; head to university or qualify via the legal executive route with CILEx. Law degrees have traditionally closed off the sector to many talented young people put off by the perception of the profession, and now the tuition fees. However, thanks to the launch of a range of Apprenticeships in Legal Services in 2013, people can enter the legal profession via an alternative route.
The Level 4 Higher Apprenticeship is equivalent to a first year of a degree and is designed for both people who want to work in law and those already working in a legal environment but wish to progress up the ranks.
If people follow the Higher Apprenticeship pathway, they will be able to qualify as a paralegal, a profession which is expected to grow by as much as 16 per cent by 2015, and from there they can take further steps to earn qualified lawyer status.
A year on from when it was first introduced, the Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services has been a roaring success, with respected law firms such as Weightmans, Kennedys and Shoosmiths all offering Level 4 Apprenticeships. Weightmans, which was the first firm to offer such a position, has reported that its apprentice was involved in fee-earning activity after just a few months.
It is hoped that this success will be built on in the coming months with the launch of a Higher Apprenticeship at Level 6 or 7 which will enable people to achieve qualified solicitor status.
The CIPD’s Human Resources Management (HRM) Apprenticeship offers people a great path into the profession and into business more generally, as HR plays a critical role in driving performance through people.
We currently offer Apprenticeships at intermediate level and will be launching a basic and advanced level in September, giving people even more opportunities to develop their skills in HR. “The HRM Apprenticeship enables apprentices to build their knowledge, and train under the eye of experienced mentors, whilst being employed and earning a salary. It also allows organisations to expand their human resource function by attracting a talented pool of individuals who might not otherwise have considered the profession.