Apprentice in a government department – Gemma Truelove, HMRC

I am employed by HMRC as a legal apprentice and have been following the Advanced Apprenticeship in Legal Services for three months.

When I was in my final year of A-Levels I realised that university wasn’t going to be for me. I just knew that there wasn’t a topic I was interested in enough to purely study for three years so it would just be a waste of money. At this point I started to search for school leaver programmes and apprenticeships. They seem to make so much more sense: you get a structured learning plan, a professional qualification, actual work experience, all while being paid a proper wage instead of racking up debt.

The only other option I really considered was getting a normal job, not an apprenticeship. I didn’t want to do this though, because at the end of an apprenticeship you’re likely to be kept on anyway and you’ve earned a qualification in the process.

The apprenticeship is better than expected because I’ve been given so much time to focus on the apprenticeship side of my role, rather than struggling to do it all in my own time whilst managing a full-time job. At the moment, I have one day a week dedicated to any apprenticeship work I need to complete. My manager is also very reasonable with me if I need to do bits during the week, as long as I’m on top of my other work.

The apprenticeship incorporates CILEx units which you need to sit exams in. It’s so much easier to understand the CILEx learning when you’re actually using it in your day-to-day role. All of your revision is consolidated by using it regularly.

At the moment, as I’m still quite new, I’m learning to write Statements of Case. These are documents that go to the Tribunal ahead of a case to explain the series of events that have happened, why the case is going to tribunal and the points of law the case will refer to. Before preparing this document any allegations by the claimant must be researched, the points we disagree with the claimant on must be stated and an explanation as to why (with evidence) must be provided.

A lot of different work goes into each case. Every case is a different story that has to be checked and then verified which keeps everything interesting.

The main benefits of an apprenticeship are the qualifications you gain and how employable they make you. Someone who has done a two year apprenticeship, so done the job as well as the qualification, will be a lot more hireable than someone whose done a two year course at university or college with no work experience. An apprentice gets the chance to prove they can do the job by applying the technical learning to the practical tasks.

I would recommend an apprenticeship because you’re furthering your education and gaining credible qualifications whilst developing the skills to actually do the job. There’s so much to get involved in and each case is different so it keeps the work new.
You also get paid an annual salary which increases your financial independence which is more than a lot of young people are able to say.

Within the same amount of time as doing a degree it’s possible to have completed a Level 3 qualification and have begun studying the next level, if that’s your choice, or be working as a qualified, permanent employee.

This case study was published for National Apprenticeship Week 2017