Apprenticeships & the SQE - how this can save you money

The Government Apprenticeship Scheme is promoted as an option by the SRA for a way to assist with the funding of training costs.

It is Government Policy to help people into employment to be able to use their skills and become good tax-payers.

So, you should be pushing at an open door. In October 2020 DWF announced that from January 2022 trainees will be on the SQE using the Apprenticeship Scheme. In April 2021 the BBC  In-House Legal Department invited applicants for Level 7 Graduate Legal Apprenticeship in 2022 - to qualify as solicitors through the SQE. So the larger organisations are starting to adopt this.

The big benefit is that the trainee can qualify without a £17,000 debt (as currently is the case under the LPC).

But that might give employers more flexibility over wages perhaps?

We are interested in helping people who have done their degree to progress with their career. There are so many struggling to find a traineeship at the moment and in limbo. Such a waste of potential, effort and money. The assistance here may unlock all the potential places that exist in small law firms.

Here is a summary of information on how a law firm could use the Apprenticehip Scheme for people training to become solicitors:

  • The employer employs the Apprentice.
  • If you are an employer accessing funding through the apprenticeship service, you must have and operate within the terms and conditions of your apprenticeship employer agreement. Here is the link to the government suggested template Apprenticeship Agreement: The Agreement is between the employer and the apprentice.
  • The employer must also sign a commitment statement with their apprentice and the training provider. Here is a link to the government suggested draft and some other info:
  • They have to be employed for a minimum of 30 hours a week (80% of which must be spent on the job and 20% with the training provider).
  • The minimum length of the apprenticeship is 12 months (certain exemptions apply due to exams having been taken and earlier QWE, but 12 months would be reasonable anyway for them to give back once they’ve learned the ropes in the firm, I’d suggest).
  • You must pay the Apprentice at least the National Minimum Wage (currently £8.91/hr if aged 23 and over)
  • The firm, as the Apprentice’s employer, pays their wages.
  • The firm may be able to get a waiver for NI (national insurance contributions) if the Apprentice is under 25 years old (refer to your accountant).
  • Grant (only up to the end of Sept 2021) of £3,000 if they are aged under 24 years. That grant is paid to the employer. (refer to your accountant)

Funding for the training

  • The government will pay 95% of this (or 100% if you are large enough to be paying into the Apprenticeship Fund via the Levy [your annual wage bill is over £3 million]).
  • This is paid directly to the training provider (up to a maximum of £27,000 for the whole training and exams under the apprenticeship); it is paid in the form of credits, no money goes to the employing firm.
  • When the Training Provider quotes, the quote should include the cost of the SQE 1 & 2.
  • A big difference here is that the Apprentice does not qualify with a huge debt (currently up to £17,000 for the LPC) for the training and exams.
  • Transfer Funding – larger firms and companies who pay the Apprenticeship Levy are now allowed to transfer any surplus they may have each year to a smaller organisation, which can then cover the 5% of the training costs that the smaller organisation/firm would otherwise be left paying; so if you have a good relationship with a larger organisation ask them – it won’t cost them anything.

The Apprenticeship scheme is run through a portal. You can delegate a lot of the admin should you wish.

Getting rid of an underperforming Apprentice – Apprentices have no more or less employment rights than any other employee. There is no impact on the apprenticeship funding. There is no clawback from the employing firm. The Training Provider would cease to receive any more money as the training would have ceased.

Other Useful Links

Information about employing an apprentice and how apprenticeship funding works – step by step guide and a good starting point. -

Government guidance for employers looking to take on an apprentice on the website:

These apprenticeship funding rules and guidance apply to employers.

A link to our article summarising the SQE method for qualifying as a solicitor, which comes into effect in September 2021 and the QWE (Qualifying Work Experience) and how to start gathering that now, in advance):

If you are an Aspiring Solicitor looking to have your QWE (Qualifying Work Experience) 'Confirmed' so it counts towards your 2 year FTE requirement, then we can help. Here's a link to details:

A link to a page we have put together with the costs of some the SQE training providers - to save you some time in researching:

Whilst on this page may we invite you to take a look at our other services (see the drop downs at the top of this page). We provide all round Business Support for Law Firms, everything to allow a busy partner to get on with the client work. We have assisted over 350 law firms, direct access barristers and in house-legal. Everything from Compliance to on your Case Management System (LEAP, Proclaim & Clio), from Mentoring to Setting Up a New Law Firm. Ask about running your firm and we're probably able to help. 07887 524507 or [email protected].

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