The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) kicks off this year’s National Apprenticeship Week with the news that its campaign to inspire more young people to start an apprenticeship has reached a key milestone.
The latest figures from the LEP show that over 1,000 young people aged 16 to 24 have started an apprenticeship as a direct result of the LEP Apprenticeship Programme in the City Region.
Roger Marsh, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, said: “I am thrilled and proud that our programme is improving career prospects for so many young people in the City Region and that the businesses supporting them are seeing the benefits of investing in new talent which, in turn, boosts economic growth.
I’m absolutely delighted that we have reached this significant milestone, supporting 1,000 young people into the workplace. I hope that this year’s National Apprenticeship Week will continue to raise the profile of apprenticeships amongst young people and businesses in our region and we look forward to continuing our work through our Apprenticeship Programme to ensure that more people can realise the benefits of an apprenticeship.”
Apprenticeships are fast becoming a career choice for young people with a range of opportunities in professions including business administration, finance, healthcare, information technology and law.
A new City Region vacancies information service has been launched by the LEP to enable more young people to benefit from the apprenticeship opportunities on offer.
The LEP’s Apprenticeship Programme also aims to encourage more SMEs to offer apprenticeships. So far, over 1,500 SMEs have signed up to take on an apprentice as a result of the programme. They include QualitySolicitors Burn and Company who have thrown the book at tradition by being the first legal firm to recruit a paralegal apprentice in York.
Part of a national network of law firms, QualitySolicitors Burn and Company has 24 members of staff, is based in York and Easingwold, and offers a range of legal services to individuals and businesses.
The legal profession is notoriously competitive, and difficult to break into. The firm is now providing a new route for promising young talent to get a foot through the door.
Hannah Middleton, 19, is their first paralegal apprentice, and she is completing an advanced apprenticeship. Hannah wanted to go straight into a career after completing three A Levels in English literature, psychology and sociology, and started her apprenticeship in July 2014.
She said: “Going to university straight after school did not appeal to me. There’s no guarantee you will get a job when you have finished a degree. My father was an apprentice, and has been successful running his own business in York. An apprenticeship seemed like the right choice for me.”
Hannah has spent time in family law and litigation, and regularly attends court. She is studying for a Providing Legal Services Diploma and a Certificate in Family Practice, both at Level 3. The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX) accredits the qualifications.
Hannah added: “I’m really enjoying what I do. I am able to work and study at the same time. I love the variety – no two days are the same and every case is different. My ambition is to go to a higher level in the profession by becoming a legal executive or studying a law degree later.”
Claire Rutter, Director and Solicitor at QualitySolicitors Burn and Company, believes the apprenticeship move reflects a widening of opportunities for young people with the determination and qualities to succeed, and reflects a growing trend in the legal profession.
Claire said: “Part of our ethos is to be innovative. That is reflected in our decision to recruit apprentices and give opportunities to school leavers. Law is a difficult profession to break into but apprenticeships provide an alternative route.”
Businesses interested in recruiting an apprentice can get free, impartial information through the LEP Apprenticeship Programme. See www.apprenticeship-hubs.co.uk for further information.