DEVON law firm Stones Solicitors LLP has responded to government calls for businesses to improve employment and career prospects through training and mentoring by launching its own apprenticeship scheme.
The first two apprentices have been recruited and will be working at Stones and studying for qualifications in business and administration.
The firm has teamed up with Education + Training Skills in Exeter to deliver the apprenticeship.
Liam Preston, from St Thomas, has joined the firm's Exeter office. He studied for A-levels at Exeter College and is keen to take the CILEX legal executive route to a career in law.
Liam said: "This is a great opportunity to get a solid grounding in how a law firm works."
Abigail Horne, from Holsworthy, has joined Stones' Okehampton office.
She said: "I am really excited to be one of the first apprentices at Stones. I am looking forward to developing my professional skills and experience at the firm."
Karen Bonser, HR manager at Stones, said: "The job market is especially tough for the 17 to 24-year-old sector, which is why apprenticeships are such a great way for younger people to gain experience and get a toehold on the career ladder.
"We are delighted to be able to introduce an apprenticeship scheme at Stones and we look forward to helping Abigail and Liam, our first apprentices, to get a good start in work."
Roz May, regional manager at Education + Training Skills, added: "It is good to be able to work with a business such as Stones, which is keen to give resource and structure to its apprenticeship programme and use the NVQ system as the backbone for that. We are looking forward to working with Karen, Abigail, Liam and their colleagues to achieve the best for this innovative scheme."
Skills Minister Matthew Hancock recently presented Roz with a certificate to mark ETS's Grade 1 'outstanding' Ofsted inspection earlier this year.
During his speech at the Group Training Association – England's annual conference, held at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Minister confirmed his support for apprenticeship skills provision.
Roz said: "Group training associations are recognised by government as delivering quality of provision for learners and employers and ETS is proud to lead the way and to endorse this view with this 'outstanding' accolade for its training provision, which includes apprenticeships."