The number of legal executives and paralegals is to increase by 17% over the next decade, a rate three times faster than employment as a whole, a think tank has claimed.

The overall number of vocational or ‘middle-skilled’ jobs will increase by 3.6m by 2022, according to a report from the Institute of Public Policy Research. 

Many of these jobs will be ‘a driver for economic growth’ and be accessible via vocational qualifications, said the report.

The report includes legal associate professionals in the overall category of ‘business and public service associate professionals’ – which is set to increase by 17% by 2022.

Peter Glover, from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills, said the number of legal associates is likely to increase at the same rate.

He said: ‘This is three times the average rate of growth expected for employment as whole, making it the second-fastest growing middle-skilled category.’

There are currently 76,000 legal associates, according to latest Labour Force Survey from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). 

President of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), Stephen Gowland (pictured), said the growth in vocational routes into the profession reflects the need for a ‘more flexible and skilled legal workforce’.

He said: ‘When independent practice rights for CILEx lawyers are granted by parliament this year, qualifying as a chartered legal executive will become increasingly attractive.’

Jan Hodges, chief executive of vocational learning charity the Edge Foundation, said: ‘This research clearly demonstrates that we must continue to support high-quality vocational education if we are to meet the needs of our future economy.’