Welsh apprenticeships launched

A new Welsh Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services has been launched which will see at least 30 apprentices newly accredited by 2015.

The apprenticeship, which has been developed by Skills for Justice and publicly funded for this year, is equivalent to the first year of a degree and is available to those working in personal injury, debt and insolvency and commercial litigation. It is the first time that paralegals have been formally recognised in Wales.

Skills for Justice has worked with firms which have expertise in these areas and with the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) to pilot the prgramme with the Welsh Government’s Sector Priorities Fund Pilot Programme and the European Social Fund.

The apprenticeship has been developed to allow fee-earning paralegals to undertake work similar to that done by chartered legal executives. A recent survey of Welsh legal employers revealed that 80 per cent were interested in a sector-specific apprenticeship.

Jeff Cuthbert, deputy minister for skills said: “These Higher Apprenticeships will support the legal services sector to recruit, train and develop the raw talent it needs in order to realise its full growth potential.

“At a time when this sector is facing tremendous change, we endeavour to identify targeted support that can help this highly regulated professional sector.”

Nick Skeet, employer relationship director for Skills for Justice, added: “Professional services such as legal and financial could be missing a trick if they don’t explore new ways of recruiting staff and developing skills; Higher Apprenticeships are a great way to do this especially given the return on investment which they deliver. ”

The launch follows a similar move in England, which saw Skills for Justice establish a Higher Apprenticeship in Legal Services and which 750 people are expected to enroll on by March 2015 (13 March 2013).