In celebration of National Apprenticeship Week (8-14 February), we would like to showcase the important role apprenticeships play, both within Stephens Scown and on a national level.

We believe that apprenticeships are a valuable part of a successful business strategy. This article, written by our Graduate Recruitment and Apprenticeships Officer Anna Platten, looks at the common misconceptions surrounding apprenticeships, and busts some of the myths.

Common myths about apprenticeships

True or false?

  • Apprenticeships are only for entry level or administrative roles;
  • I cannot do an apprenticeship if I have a degree;
  • Apprenticeships are the ‘easy-route’ to take;
  • Apprenticeships are only available for new employees;
  • Apprenticeships are only for young people and school leavers;
  • Apprentices cannot be fee-earners;
  • If I train to become a solicitor via the apprenticeship route, I won’t get a law degree;
  • If I complete an apprenticeship as an existing employee, my salary will reduce to reflect the 20% ‘time off the job’;
  • Apprentices have to do it all by themselves; and
  • Apprentices are not as valued as other members of the team.

In fact, none of the above are true. Let’s have a look in more detail.

“Apprenticeships are only for entry level or administrative roles”

False. There are a wide range of apprenticeships available, ranging from a Level 2 in roles such as Business Administration, up to Level 7 qualifications including graduate level Solicitor, and a vast array in-between.

“I can’t do an apprenticeship if I have a degree”

False. Although historic funding rules prohibited graduates from completing an apprenticeship, this now could not be further from the truth.

As a graduate, you are eligible for all levels of apprenticeships, and in addition, there are now more degree and Masters level apprenticeships than ever before.

“Apprenticeships are the ‘easy-route’ to take”

False. I think all our apprentices would have something to say about this! To quote Lexie who is studying for her Solicitor qualification:

“Undertaking an apprenticeship is a life commitment, it’s not something that you should jump into without thinking about it sufficiently. The work is varied and interesting but it is constant, particularly when you realise that you work four days a week whilst doing a full time law degree. However, it is an absolutely brilliant way to qualify. When you do qualify you will have over five years of real legal experience which will place you in excellent stead against competitor NQ’s.”

The ‘easy’ part about it is that you don’t have to worry about student loans or course fees – apprenticeships come at no financial cost to the individual, and you get paid while you study.

“Apprenticeships are only for young people and school leavers”

False. There are no funding restrictions based on age, and there’s also a large variety of apprenticeships available to people at all stages in their career, whether in Law, or in support roles such as Marketing or Finance.

“Apprenticeships are only available for new employees”

False. Apprenticeships are actually a great way to upskill our current people as well as new starters, and we have a mixture of both existing employees and new joiners on the apprenticeship route.

“Apprentices can’t be fee-earners”

False. We currently have four fee-earning apprentices.

“If I train to become a solicitor via the apprenticeship route, I won’t get a law degree”

False. You will not only achieve a law degree, but you will be able to do this debt-free and have five years’ worth of on-the-job experience in addition.

“If I complete an apprenticeship as an existing employee, my salary will reduce by 20% to reflect the 20% ‘time off the job’”

False. We continue to pay a full-time salary to our apprentices which includes their 20% ‘time off the job’ to write their assignments, attend classes, shadowing, learning support etc.

“Apprentices have to do it all by themselves”

False. There’s a lot of support available to our apprentices, both from the training provider and the firm, not least the protected study time of 20% off the job.

To quote Becky, Chartered Executive Apprentice:

“The first part of my studies (Level 3) was completed outside of the apprenticeship programme which meant that I had to complete all studying in my own time around a full time job. The option to complete the Level 6 part of my qualification through an apprenticeship means that I now get 20% of my time at work (equivalent of a day) allocated to studying and have the additional support that was not available with the first part of my studies. This has made a massive difference to me.”

“Apprentices aren’t as valued as other members of the team”

False. Our apprentices do an incredible job, and contribute not only through their day job, but through the new skills and knowledge they bring to the team.

Their apprenticeship projects are also a great benefit to the firm too, for example Sarah (our HR apprentice) is currently undertaking a Right to Work project which will inform the firm’s policy and procedure for the new changes being brought in for EU citizens following the UK’s departure from the EU.

Supervisor’s feedback on our apprentices

Ellie Hibberd, Employment partner and head of HRExpress, on Lucy, HR Apprentice:

“After finding it difficult to find the right person to work as an HR professional in our team to complement the employment law advice we give to our clients, we decided to take on an apprentice. This was a new route for our team but meant that we would be able to ‘grow our own’ talent. Lucy joined the team in July 2020 and has shown real drive and enthusiasm.

It’s great to be able to work with her to expand her knowledge and develop her skills and by completing her course at the same time as working, she’s able to benefit from the ‘on the job’ experiences she has and the team and our clients are able to benefit from the academic teaching she’s getting.”

Laurie Trounce, Corporate partner and head of our Charity team, on Lexie, Solicitor Apprentice:

“We are really proud to have Lexie, the Firm’s first Solicitor Apprentice in the Corporate team. Although it is still early in Lexie’s six year journey to qualification, she is fully immersed within Corporate and taking on increasing levels of responsibility. Her positivity, commitment to self-study and willingness to contribute and make a difference for our clients and within our Team indicates to us that Lexie will be a fantastic future solicitor for the firm.”

Lucy Palmer, Director of Human Resources, on Sarah, HR Apprentice:

“Sarah is the HR team’s second apprentice that has successfully come through the apprenticeship programme, with Katie Clements having done so before her.

The apprenticeship programme has allowed Sarah to gain specialist skills and knowledge which she has been able to put into practice straight away. It is the perfect ‘theoretical meets practical’ experience, which has been hugely beneficial for her and enabled her to really add value to the team.”

Tim Walmsley, Senior Associate in our Corporate Real Estate team, on Jess and Lydia, Chartered Executive Apprentices:

“I have been supervising the apprenticeships of Jess and Lydia since the start and have found it a great thing to be involved in. On a personal level, it has aided my own personal development by giving me the opportunity to hone my mentoring and supervision skills whilst helping build a future for two of my colleagues.

“Jess and Lydia are two very bright and personable individuals. They are dedicated to their studies, their work matters, and have established excellent relationships with their clients. This dedication has enabled them to reduce key performance targets for clients resulting in securing more instructions for the firm. They are both well on their way to qualification as Chartered Legal Executives and have bright future as conveyancers within the legal profession and more importantly at Stephens Scown.”

Ben Travers, partner and head of our Intellectual Property and IT team, on Becky, Chartered Executive Apprentice:

“Becky has an excellent work ethic and always goes the extra mile to ensure clients get excellent service, she is a real asset to the team. The apprenticeship scheme has enabled the firm to support Becky in gaining the knowledge she needs to progress in her career whilst getting real world experience.”

We know from experience how valuable apprenticeships are to the firm and are proud to support them. All our apprentices have brought in fresh ideas and proven themselves as brilliant assets, while constantly improving through their training and learning.