Apprenticeships: myth versus reality

Apprenticeships offer a opportunity to earn and learn at the same time. Not only do you end up with a real job, but one with a recognised qualification built in.  So why are some people reluctant to apply for one – or not applying at all?

Explore some of the commonly held, and incorrect, beliefs about apprenticeships.

Myth #1

I won’t get a good job afterwards

Reality

Apprenticeships often offer clear progression opportunities and can lead to full professional qualifications at degree level and beyond so they certainly don’t limit how far you can go in your career. They also come with the immense benefit of years of work experience. Think of it this way: who would an employer hire, someone with a degree and no work experience or someone who has completed a relevant apprenticeship programme and has years of real work experience?

You also need to keep in mind that a high proportion of apprentices stay on with the employer after their apprenticeship and often progress to higher level training as well.

Myth #2

They’re for people who failed at school

Reality

The benefit of apprenticeships is that they are available at all levels – so there are programmes to suit all capabilities. A number of them, such as the Solicitor Apprenticeship, are set at degree level and applicants need to be high performing individuals who can handle studying and working at the same time. So in some ways apprentices will need to be more mature and motivated than if they had gone down the university route.

Myth #3

I won’t succeed without a degree

Reality

For some professions, a certain level of academic achievement is required. However, there are often other ways to qualify – for example you can become a solicitor using the alternative means route without having a law degree. You should also remember that there are many fulfilling career paths beyond the obvious ones – not everyone in the legal world is a solicitor! – so it’s worth researching your options.

Myth #4

Unlike university, I’ll be all by myself

Reality

There are are plenty of opportunities to make a friends as an apprentice, for example if you apply to join a bigger organisation taking on a group of apprentices. All our apprentices attend a group induction at the beginning of their programme and you will likely meet people there. You may also find that your employer previously hired apprentices and they can mentor and guide you. 

Beyond your fellow apprentices, you will also benefit from the support of your supervisor, work colleagues, legal assessor and trainer and the wider CLS team. You will receive regular visits or attend events which will give you the opportunity to network.

Myth #5

I won’t get paid much

Reality

Although the government sets a minimum wage for apprentices which is lower than the national minimum wage, most employers in the legal sector offer more than they are bound to by law. They recognise that they need to if they want to attract the best candidates. They also appreciate the value that an apprentice brings to their business – it’s an investment on both sides.

Apprenticeship salaries do vary according to geographical area and the level of the apprenticeship, but even where they seem low, it is important to consider that your training costs are covered too. You may also have access to other employment benefits beyond your salary.

Myth #6

I won’t do any real work

Reality

Our apprentices have some amazing experiences during their apprenticeship, from going to court and being part of trials to interacting with clients and seeing successful outcomes to cases. While you will likely start off with simpler tasks, your employer will be keen for your to work autonomously alongside their trainees, paralegals and fee earners.

We screen all the job descriptions for the role we advertise and all our apprenticeship roles need to be genuine jobs. You will also receive regular visits from our team during your apprenticeship to ensure that you are progressing on track.

Myth #7

They’re only for young people getting their first job

Reality

The only age requirement for apprenticeships is to be over 16 at the start of the apprenticeship. Other than that there are no age restrictions.

In fact, a number of our apprentices are current employees, who have often been in their current role for a number of years, who see an apprenticeship as a great way to get the training they always wanted to. This allows them to do that and potentially progress their career, while continuing to work.

Bonus myth

I need to do my legal apprenticeship in a law firm

Reality

All apprentices will have a different experience, even when they are within the same organisation, but apprenticeships undertaken in a law firm are no more valuable. Many of our apprentices do their legal apprenticeships with local authorities or in-house legal teams. They receive the same training and amount of exposure to the world of work.

  • Find out about the difference between law firm, local authority and in-house apprenticeship experiences

Still have questions?

Hopefully the above has answered some of your concerns, but if you have a question do visit our Apprenticeship Frequently Asked Questions or get in touch with our Apprenticeship Recruitment Team. They’re experts in the different routes into the legal profession and will be open and honest with you about your options.

Give us a call on 01234 844300 or email us at apprentice.recruitment@cilexlawschool.ac.uk