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Basic degree required for becoming a Solicitor or an accountant would not mandatory for some school leavers

Date: (28 December 2012)    |    

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The present system of churning out qualified professionals such as a solicitor, accountant or an insurance professional means putting in typically three years at the university, then job training and then going for professional qualifications. But if one has to go by new plans of the government school leavers would become lawyers and accountants without first getting the required degrees.
Mathew Hancock, the minister for skills, said that he wanted to expand the apprenticeship scheme to offer qualifications at the same level as a master’s degree without years of university study.
He has said there was no reason why anybody could not attain the same qualifications without a degree, starting on the job training in an apprenticeship from day one. He wrote in an article in the Daily Telegraph. He added he would like to see apprenticeships in the fields of craft, technical and professional jobs that open up work based routes to the top.
To start up with their plans the government has funded around 30 employers, including the accountancy firm PwC and construction company Balfour Beatty, with £25m to provide new qualifications for their apprentices.
At present apprentices can reach the level of a foundation degree after four years. The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills announcement envisages apprentices continuing study for up to eight years to attain the equivalent of a master's degree.
Hancock wrote highly successful apprenticeship schemes were already in place, at levels four and five, equivalent to the first year of a degree course and foundation degree levels respectively. More courses were needed to truly match graduate and postgraduate qualifications he wrote.
From next year onwards apprenticeships at levels six and seven, bachelors and master's degree level, would be officially recognised for the first time.
Because of increasing fee structures England and Wales have seen a fall of 57,000 students in the last year itself and to stem the rot apprentice scheme would be allowed to some school leavers to work and study at the same time if an employer was willing to fund it.
Higher apprenticeships, like all apprenticeships, were employer-led which has to be supported by them to make it a success. More employers will have to step up to take advantage of the opportunity, Hancock said.
The minister said Britain's economic progress has been slowed by a lack of respect for learning in the workplace. "For decades, Britain has been held back by artificial and counter-productive divisions between practical and academic learning, allowing countries such as Germany to get ahead in the global race for technical excellence," he said.
The government's announcement was inspired by a report this year by Doug Richards, a businessman who appears in the television show Dragons' Den. He told the government that apprenticeships should be recognised on par with degrees.
The government was in talks with the BPP Law School over an apprenticeship that will lead to a qualification as a solicitor and PricewaterhouseCoopers is developing a master's-level apprenticeship for a qualification in audit, accountancy or tax, Hancock wrote.