Err, what?

School leavers will be encouraged to skip university and train for highly-paid jobs as lawyers, bankers and accountants in a new wave of “professional” apprenticeships, a minister discloses today.

Hasn\’t this always been true?

Certainly, you used to be able to do articles as a trainee solicitor or accountant without having a degree. So what\’s this Tory burbling about?

15 thoughts on “Err, what?”

  1. You can also wander about the country calling yourself an engineer without having so much as visited a university, too. Just give yourself the title and off you go.

  2. This might be something to do with, a while back some Tory minister for Skillz0r (or something like that) saying he’d just watched Der Meistersinger and realised that we needed to roll back the economy to the middle ages, with guilds and apprenticeships and shit like that.

    *cue canned laughter track*

    Point being of course that the things we euphemise as “professions” are the remains of the mediaeval guild system anyway; people who had sufficient social power to retain their state-backed guilds when proles like the brewers and noggin-makers and glassblowers lost theirs.

    As noted in another thread, and relevant to other threads about property, you can tell something’s not working in the market when people can charge for “permission”; either to build a house or be admitted to a guild (hence, as we re-guild the economy, the surge in unpaid “internships” as entry barriers rise, thus creating an escalating price for mere entry into the market).

  3. It certainly used to be possible – my father wasn’t a graduate and qualified as a solicitor in the late 60s, but the profession was going graduate-only by then. The interesting question is whether the trend towards graduate-only professions is a response to declining educational standards or a way of making it easier to sort out the few from the enormous number of people wanting to enter them.

  4. You seem to have it in for the Guilds a tad, IanB. Historically, I’d reckon the closed shop of the universities was much more of a problem. Guilds were doing good experimental science when universities were teaching diamonds dissolving in goats’ blood & the planets running in crystal spheres, on the evidence of some Greeks been dead a thousand years.
    Having effectively served an apprenticeship as a goldsmith, can never forget the experience of trying to collaborate with someone supposed to have acquired the same knowledge at uni. Not compatible doesn’t quite cover it. They seemed to have studied an entirely different craft.

  5. Dunno about lawyers but it’s never been necessary to have a degree to qualify as an accountant. However, a degree was required to get on the training programme at a large firm for the last couple of decades. This has already changed because most of the larger firms now have direct entry programmes for school leavers too. Two of the reasons are because (a) they’re cheaper and (b) many able kids won’t want to saddle themselves with £27K of debt now.

  6. The solicitors are much tougher; it’s now impossible for an 18 year old school leaver to go directly to qualify as a solicitor.

    You can do it indirectly by first qualifying as a Legal Executive, but they rather discourage that. It’s really either degree or wait to qualify as a mature student.

    As others have said, with accountants its easier in theory, but in practice depends on the firms’ attitudes to recruitment.

    In the 80s and 90s accountancy was becoming pretty much a graduate-only profession at the top end; in the mid-90s I worked for a bloke who was said to be the last non-graduate big-6 partner (and he was ACCA not ICAEW; brilliant though). But I hear that’s changing now.

    Is an average accountancy degree worth £27,000 (plus 3 years without a proper salary)? Doubtful. Is a law degree? Probably only because the Law Society make it difficult to become a solicitor without one.

  7. Fucking hell!

    Will this mean that the next generation of professionals will not have had the benefit of three or four years of getting pissed, smoking dope and being indoctrinated by lefty wanker lecturers and professors who have never done a proper days work in their lives?

    Jesus. We really are fucked.

  8. @”Richard // Dec 28, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    The solicitors are much tougher; it’s now impossible for an 18 year old school leaver to go directly to qualify as a solicitor.”
    I must admit that you know more than me.
    But when I saw this web site
    Years ago that it was possible to do so.

    At my school I was strongly discouraged from working part time and doing a degree in chemistry part time.
    Imagine how happy I was to find out after I had waste 2 years of my life at uni to find out that companies like Pfizer are quite happy to do this and to be honest the training was better.

    I think it is very sad that we have inflation in jobs. I.e. a job that in the past you could do leaving school at 16 you now need to go to uni to do – why is that a good idea?

  9. Used to know a lad who left school at 18 and trained as an accountant. Small company and the owners knew his family. Never did get a degree, just accountancy qualifications.

    I’ve read of non-law degree graduates (with a degree in something else) accepted as trainee solicitors on occasion in the past couple of years (one a history graduate) – perhaps from being simply some of the better applicants for the position. Law degree students not necessarily being actually employable…. like any students a range of abilities, interests, capacity to work with others etc.

  10. I began an apprenticeship straight from school, at fifteen years of age. My old company now insists on a BSc as a precursor for the same training. Likewise, the organisation I subsequently joined now insists on a MBA and three languages as an entry requirement. My nephews all appear to be the same sort of lads as we were but are now obliged to gain a Masters degree before applying for their first position. In the long run what’s changed?

  11. Pingback: UK Government Pushing for “Professional” Apprenticeships |

  12. I would suggest more needs to be made of the benefits of competition when in comes to accountancy qualifications. There is no one body that gives you the “accountant” stamp. You can get it from ICAEW, ACCA, CIMA, CIPFA, AAT etc. AAT in particular is marketed as an alternative to a degree and they will gain students if the others get too snobby about graduate status. As to whether an employer considers degree+acronym to be better than just acronym, that’s up to them. I would however suggest a 21 year old with 3 years office experience and AAT gained from evening classes would be more employable than 90% of recent graduates.

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