Three myths about apprenticeships
Apprenticeships are not valued in the workplace
In terms of school-leavers building a brighter future, times have changed. Professional services firms such as Hillyer McKeown are embracing apprenticeships. The government, having funded apprenticeships through the levy, is encouraging a broad spectrum of businesses to take part.
Reflecting on their long-term effect, many of Hillyer McKeown’s apprentices have remained within the business after completing their qualification and their contribution continues to be valued.
The firm’s apprentices are encouraged to take part in broader activities such as being involved in the Hillyer McKeown Employee Engagement team, a platform which enables colleagues to suggest ideas to improve the business.
In 2018, Hillyer McKeown was delighted when two of its apprentices reached the final of Cheshire’s High Sheriff’s Award for Enterprise in the Best Apprentice category. Lindsey Kidd, Hillyer McKeown’s Group Managing Partner commented:
‘The commendation is such a fantastic achievement and greatly deserved. It recognises the dedication and commitment demonstrated by the support functions at Hillyer McKeown, which consistently deliver essential services to a high level.’
In terms of contributing to the broader economy, research suggests that on average employing an apprentice long term can boost the productivity of a business by £214 per week.
Apprenticeship training is for non-academics
One perception of apprenticeships is that they are for non-academics and therefore limited in scope. Instead, apprentices should be viewed as future talent for a business. By taking part in the apprenticeship programme, Hillyer McKeown has been able to recognise and retain talent, by helping them to grow and develop their career whether pursuing a legal or non-legal path.
The initiative provides a strong framework, providing the opportunity for apprentices to earn while they learn, without acquiring student debt. A college comes in once a week to work with the apprentices, who also complete regular coursework and undertake final exams.
For Hillyer McKeown, this structure sits alongside staged learning focused on gaining practical skills. Each administration apprentice is mentored and assessed by their line manager to achieve as much as they can during their apprenticeship to help them prepare for the world of work.
At the end of their apprenticeship, some apprentices can gain recognised qualifications via Ofsted assessed training, plus valuable hard and soft skills necessary for their future.
Apprenticeships are a headache to manage
In terms of finding suitable apprentices, the process is straightforward. Hillyer McKeown promotes its available apprenticeship opportunities in early summer and undertakes a work experience day to shortlist applicants. Those who are shortlisted are then interviewed and Hillyer McKeown chooses the most suitable candidate to begin the apprenticeship.
The apprentice’s training provider is involved in the process and learning starts from day one. Apprentices complete Hillyer McKeown’s ‘welcome on board’ induction process, which includes introducing them to who we are and what we do, meeting the team, health and safety, security, and raising their awareness of the firm’s values.
Jenny Smith, Recruitment Manager at Hillyer McKeown adds:
‘Having experienced several apprenticeship intakes, Hillyer McKeown has found the process quite straightforward and sees apprenticeships as a longer-term investment bringing fresh skills into our departments. We’re looking for future talent and it is satisfying to see colleagues who started working with us as an apprentice successfully go through our recruitment process to become a permanent member of staff. I enjoy seeing our apprentices grow and be recognised.’
Of course, there is work for an employer taking on an apprentice and this route does not work out every time - either for the employer or the apprentice - like any other employee but offer an apprentice an environment in which they can thrive, and they will.
One of Hillyer McKeown’s apprentices, Caitlin, was motivated to gain valuable and practical experience in a professional environment. She wished to move into the conveyancing department, so this was the route she navigated as she travelled down her apprenticeship path. Today Caitlin continues to be a valued member of Hillyer McKeown in the conveyancing team and is undergoing CILEx training to further her career.
Of her experience she says:
‘My apprenticeship has enabled me to get my foot in the door and provided opportunities I wouldn’t have thought about before.’
Find out more about apprenticeships by visiting the www.gov.uk website.