A Law Society Council member today accuses large firms of misusing the apprenticeship levy in order to fund traditional graduate training.
In a Gazette column, James Kitching, Council member for junior lawyers, says firms are retaining traditional training contracts instead of developing ‘innovative new models’ allowed by the Solicitors Qualifying Exam (SQE).
He alleges that firms are merely reconfiguring the training contract, putting candidates through preparatory courses in which SQE replicates the LPC, prior to two years of qualifying work experience at the firm. ‘Such candidates are being treated as apprentices in order to take advantage of the apprenticeship levy to fund the training,’ Kitching states.
‘Setting aside my disappointment that these firms are not taking the chance to move towards a more innovative model, a greater concern is that this approach is a misuse of the apprenticeship levy with respect to its original purpose.’
The apprenticeship levy was introduced in 2017 and is payable by all employers with an annual pay bill of more than £3m. Such employers must pay out 0.5% of their payrolls to fund training schemes.
The Law Society’s education and training committee said it is looking at how firms are using the levy and will ‘carefully continue to analyse the issues involved, considering all sides of the debate’.