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Lawyers and accountants don't need degrees, says minister

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The Government have announced plans to provide companies with apprenticeship schemes, which will allow school leavers to enter into accountancy and law careers without obtaining a degree.

Matthew Hancock, Minister for Skills, explained the plans to expand the current apprenticeship scheme to offer qualifications equivalent to the same level as a Master's Degree.

In the current scheme, school leavers can obtain the equivalent of a foundation degree after four years on an apprenticeship, and five years equals a first year of a bachelors degree. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is now set to extend these schemes to up to eight years, the equivalent of obtaining  a Masters Degree.

Hancock spoke of the proposed changes in The Daily Telegraph,  writing: "At the moment, to become qualified as a solicitor, accountant or in insurance, the typical route involves three years at university, then on the job training and professional qualifications. But university is not for everyone. There is no reason why you can't attain the same qualifications, without the degree, starting on the job training in an apprenticeship from day one."

The Government has now invested £25m in around 30 UK companies, including the accountancy firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers and construction company Balfour Beatty, to provide these qualifications.

The changes in apprenticeship schemes coincides with the drop in school leavers applying for University in 2012 - 57,000 less than the previous year, before the fees increased for higher education in Britain and Wales.

Hancock added that the change would benefit the economic climate of the UK as well as individual school leavers.

"For decades, Britain has been held back by artificial and counter-productive divisions between practical and academic learning, allowing countries such as Germany to get ahead in the global race for technical excellence," he said.

The apprenticeship schemes will give school leavers the chance to obtain degree-level qualifications whilst working at the same time. Hancock continued: "Higher apprenticeships, like all apprenticeships, are employer-led. So to ensure their success and go further, we need more employers to step up to take advantage of the opportunity,"

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