From teaching to trading standards; North Yorkshire helps people take the next step with apprenticeships.

Abi Exelby legal apprenticeship

Whether you want to qualify as a lawyer, become a fully qualified teacher, or tackle counterfeiters and doorstep criminals as a trading standards officer - all are possible through apprenticeships in North Yorkshire.

This week (February 3 to February 9) is National Apprenticeship Week and the focus is on the broad variety of career routes and skills that the on-the-job training route can offer people of all ages at every stage of their career – whilst earning a wage. Apprenticeships are suitable for those who have just left full-time education, people wanting a career change, or those wanting to take the next step in their career.

One of North Yorkshire County Council’s current apprenticeships includes a family law apprentice who is training to become a fully qualified lawyer after completing a paralegal apprenticeship with the council. 

North Yorkshire provides a broad range of apprenticeship opportunities in its schools, from teaching assistants to schools’ finance and business support staff, right up to Level 7 / masters level apprenticeship for senior leaders within school to become heads and deputy heads.

The summer of 2020 will also see the County Council’s first candidate undertake the Level 6 Postgraduate Teaching Apprenticeship. It is a nationally recognised, work-based route into primary or secondary teaching and an alternative to the traditional full-time university course. That means no tuition fees and the opportunity to earn a salary whilst you learn. The apprenticeship takes a year to complete and gives that candidate Qualified Teacher Status and a PGCE.

Barrie Mason, assistant director of Highways and Transport at the County Council said: “With apprenticeships you’re not just working towards a qualification; you are learning in the workplace at the same time as picking up vital experience and skills which only on-the-job training can provide.

“You’re also earning while learning. When it comes to degree and post-graduate level apprenticeships, this can make a huge difference; instead of finishing your qualification with a large amount of debt, you’ve spent that time earning money, while getting specified time set aside within your working week to study.

“It can also be a great way for people with existing financial commitments to change careers or broaden the existing skills they have.

“Apprentices must be at least 16-years-old, but there is no upper age limit and can be an ideal for someone looking for a career change or who wants to step up to the next level of their career.”

The council offers a broad range of other apprenticeships in technology, business, engineering, health and adult social care, children and young people’s services and other opportunities to work in the county’s schools from lab assistants to school business manager. They can be studied at a range of levels from level 2 up to Level 7, the equivalent of a masters postgraduate qualification. 

Case study

Abi Exelby arrived at North Yorkshire County Council in October 2016, to take on a paralegal apprenticeship. Now she is on course to become a fully qualified lawyer - all while earning a wage and gaining vital experience in her chosen field.

Abi works as a legal officer in the demanding field of Children’s Services, providing support to the lawyers in the team and legal advice to the Council’s Children and Family Services Directorate. Abi runs her own less complex cases, obtains evidence and statements to support court applications, liaises with the police and CPS in relation to disclosure requests and undertakes legal research.

She says it’s a demanding, but rewarding, line of work.

“We are working to protect the most vulnerable children within the county. You know you’re making a huge difference for those children and it is a really rewarding, interesting and worthwhile job,” she said.

Abi arrived at the County Council in October 2016 in a role as a Paralegal Apprentice, which saw her achieve her Level 3 Certificate in Family Law and Childcare Practice within 18 months. She was also named Apprentice of the Year in the CILEx National Awards.

Once she had achieved this, the council’s legal services supported Abi to continue on with the Chartered Legal Executive Apprenticeship with North Yorkshire County Council, which will see her become a fully qualified lawyer.

She said the learning she is undertaking for her Chartered Institute of Legal Executive (CILEx) qualification goes hand in hand with the job she is doing, which has really helped with both her role and studies.

As an apprentice, Abi is also given protected learning time each week, where she can solely focus on her studies during her normal working hours. She states that her manager and team have been very supportive of her studies and progression which has helped her immensely.

Abi said: “I’ve always been interested in the possibility of working in law and did my work experience in Year 10 at a local firm of solicitors. I did my A-levels and looked at university, but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do.

“I got an admin job at a local firm and researched the CILEx route to qualification. Initially I wasn’t sure whether I would have to support myself through those exams, but I feel incredibly fortunate that the Paralegal Apprenticeship opportunity then came up at the Council shortly after.”

Abi said being able to gain a qualification in law - which can often involve a particularly costly and lengthy training - while still earning a regular wage, has also enabled her to plan for the future and settle in her personal life.

“It’s been absolutely brilliant, I have managed to buy a house with my partner. We are also engaged at the minute, planning our wedding next year and have a little van we have converted into a camper to head off for adventures every weekend!

“The work life balance is amazing, because you get to learn and study in a career you want to do, but you’re also getting paid and still have weekends free to do things you want.”

Abi said she would recommend people give serious thought to gaining a qualifications via an apprenticeship.

“I would say absolutely go for it, it was the best decision I’ve made and I am so happy I did it.”

Abi’s manager, senior solicitor Claire Bryant said: “Abi is a huge asset to our team and the opportunities afforded to her as part of the scheme mean she is planning and building a future now, whilst obtaining invaluable experience.

“As well as building her qualifications, she is also obtaining practical skills in the workplace, experiencing team work and working on her own caseloads.

“This strengthens the foundations of excellent interpersonal skills and also working independently. The work makes a real difference.”

Find more information about becoming an apprentice with us.

Alternatively, email; apprenticeships@northyorks.gov.uk or call; 01609-535532.

This story was published 6 February 2020