It is the classic conundrum for any young person starting out on their career – you can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job.
But one national institution, based in Kempston, is helping to lead the way in offering valuable work experience and apprenticeship placements for young people.
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has given eight young people work experience in their chosen fields, letting them enhance their CVs and become more attractive to future employers.
And over the same period five apprentices have gained placements at CILEx as part of a programme developed with Bedford College.
19-year-old Josh Mason is now CILEx’s membership operations adviser, after starting as an apprentice.
He said: ”I had just finished my AS-Levels, but I wasn’t happy to be 17 years old and still in education. Yet I still wanted to progress and learn.
“I looked at the different apprenticeships, applied for this one and it went from there.”
He added: “When you start a new job you worry about whether you’ll pick it up, or whether people will like you. But everyone made me feel welcome and valued straight away, and if I had any questions they would help me.
“Doing an apprenticeship helped me grow up and lot more. When I see my mates now I can really feel that I made the right decision.
“At the start of this year I was given an area in our department and it progressed from there. As that developed I got to work on all parts of the business, both internally and externally. I also worked at the CILEx graduation, which is an important event.
“There’s always room for progression here,”
CILEx is the professional and representative body for around 20,000 trainee and practising Chartered Legal Executive lawyers across England and Wales.
The organisation offers a non-university route to qualify as a lawyer, although graduates are also welcome. And the firm’s contribution to diversity is also reflected in 74 per cent of its members being women and 24 per cent being from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.
CILEx HR manager Janet SURNAME said: ”From our point of view, if we’ve got a particular project where we need extra help then the apprentice is an option for us. And for the apprentice it means they get relevent work experience, not just filing or making cups of tea.
“If someone has a law degree then they’ve got knowledge but they need experience of how to use and develop that knowledge. They don’t necessarily know how to apply what they know to real life.”
Gina Bubbins, Bedford College’s business development team manager, echoed her sentimenets.
She said: ”We work with hundreds of organisations, and if a firm has had five apprentices, as CILEx has, then we can say it’s definitely working.
“As a college we are very picky about the employers we work with. Obviously they don’t have to give a job at the end of the apprenticeship, but the majority of them do. We work closely with the Job Centre Plus and Bedford College, and we all want everyone to get the most out of the apprenitceship.”
She added: “We look for employers who will give the apprentice an experience that’s true to life.
“Unfortunately there are people who think apprentices are people who will do the same job for less money. But what we want is employers who offer on-the-job training, mentoring, and the chance to be supervised but also learn to think for themselves.
“When it comes to the apprentices, we want commitment, a willingness to learn, and a commitment to not just go to work but to come to college too and earn your qualifications.”
For more about CILEx qualifications, visit www.cilexcareers.org.uk
For more information on Get Britain Working, visit www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/welfare-reform/get-britain-working/
And for information on apprenticeships available through Bedford College, visit http://bedford.ac.uk/school_leavers__parents/apprenticeships.aspx