National Apprenticeship Week 2023 is drawing to a close.
Since 2007, National Apprenticeship Week has recognised and promoted the importance of apprenticeships. Although this is the case, for a long time professionals who qualified through apprenticeships were seen as 'less than' their university graduate counterparts. As times progress, the stigma surrounding apprenticeships is slowly changing for the better, and rightly so!
National Apprenticeship Week is a personally important event in my calendar. After all, without the existence of apprenticeships I wouldn't be a Dispute Resolution Executive at the age of 22.
In 2018, I became a CILEX Paralegal Apprentice, studying with CILEX Law School. I had recently failed my AS Levels (for personal reasons), and truly believed that my chances of a legal career were over. My Paralegal Apprenticeship changed that, and it turned out to be a career defining step for me, and quite frankly it changed my life.
At the start of my apprenticeship, I undertook secretarial duties for a Dispute Resolution Solicitor. She saw my ambition, and took interest in what criteria I needed to meet to pass my Paralegal Apprenticeship. She began to teach me how to draft legal documents, prepare Court bundles, manage Clients on the telephone, conduct Client meetings, keep myself organised, the list goes on.
On top of working full time, and being taught how to 'Paralegal', I studied. I completed coursework. I sat exams. I created a portfolio of work, to evidence my competency. It was far from easy, but, worth it. I would do it all again in a heartbeat.
The skills I developed during my Paralegal Apprenticeship are invaluable. The experiences I gained in Dispute Resolution whilst a Paralegal Apprentice are hands down the reason that I am where I am today.
Apprenticeships are not an alternative for those who 'cant make it to university'. Apprenticeships are difficult. Apprenticeships are valuable. Apprentices deserve recognition. Apprentices are the future. We are the future.
On that point, it is interesting to note that the Law Society reported Solicitor Apprentices who sat the SQE recently have passed (on average) with a 25% higher pass rate, than their non-apprentice counter parts.