Apprenticeships equivalent to BA and MA degrees will soon be available as a route in to the law, the government announced today.

In a statement strongly backing professional apprenticeships, Matthew Hancock, the skills minister, said there is no reason why aspiring lawyers cannot attain the qualifications without a degree, ‘starting on-the-job training in an apprenticeship from day one’.

From next year, changes to the apprentices standards for England will mean that level six and seven apprenticeships – equivalent to bachelors and masters degree level – are available for the first time, making vocational learning an attractive alternative to the traditional higher education route, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said.

It revealed that BPP Law School is in discussion with the regulatory sector skills council Skills for Justice over a proposed ‘legal apprenticeship pathway’ as an alternative route to the legal profession and qualification as a solicitor.

Writing in today’s Daily Telegraph, Hancock said he was ‘especially excited about a new law apprenticeship which BPP Law School is seeking to develop as an alternative to the traditional means of qualifying as a solicitor’.

James Hammill, a BPP director, said: ‘We are committed to improving social mobility and diversity in the workplace by opening up some of the most prestigious professions and employers to school leavers as an alternative to the traditional route. Apprenticeships are an excellent way for employers to recruit talent early and design a structured training programme that incorporates technical learning as well as invaluable work-based skills.’

The Legal Education and Training Review, set up by the three main legal services regulators, is due to publish the report of its research phase next month.