Learn while you Earn

Posted on 4th March 2013

First Graduates of the Professional Certificate in Legal Accounts Management:

Two legal cashiers are among the first to graduate from the University of Chester with a Professional Certificate in Legal Accounts Management, a pioneering new work based learning programme developed in co-operation with one of the UK’s leading legal software and outsourced services company Quill Pinpoint.

The directors of Quill Pinpoint wanted to tap into the wealth of knowledge and experience within their organisation and looked to us at the University of Chester for help, based on our excellent track record of working with employer-led  training programmes.  In partnership we developed a professional practice training programme that would enable young people to gain a foothold in the legal and accounting sector in a bid to introduce a new breed of highly trained and highly skilled legal cashiers.

This pioneering Work Based & Integrative Studies (WBIS) programme is tailored to provide academic recognition of learning undertaken primarily in the workplace and at the same time gives credit for prior learning. This particular qualification awards 60 credit points on completion which allows the students to go on to study a full degree.

Jordan Ryan, aged 21, from Failsworth works as a legal cashier in the company’s Manchester office. He joined the company aged 18, having finished studying Advanced Legal Studies at The Oldham College.

He said: “At the time I got my break with Quill I was working as a sandwich artist for Subway to make ends meet.  I had always wanted to get into the legal profession, but nobody was willing to take a junior with only two weeks work experience. I applied to them for the role of trainee legal cashier as it seemed like a good way to get my foot into the door of the legal world.”

“One thing led to another and after a few months of being with them and proving myself, the directors offered me the chance of studying towards a qualification, learning as I was earning. I knew it was going to be hard but didn’t fancy going back to sandwiches!”

“There were loads of practical tasks and assessments that really challenged me and a few presentations too with the final assessment being a formal presentation in front of the company directors. It was really nerve wracking and I’m not a nervous person but the pressure helped me focus on what I had to do and say and in the end I was really happy with my presentation, and so were the people assessing me!”

Once into the swing of things Jordan says that he found the work and study balance manageable, adding: “The ability to ‘earn as you learn’ was what worked best for me. The course also helped me to understand what I do well in my job and where I need to improve, which I think has been really useful.”

He said: “I felt great once I had completed the course, a professional qualification and a great job to add onto my CV. I really enjoy what I do and love working for Quill but I am ambitious and now aim to study towards being a solicitor and gain the skills and qualifications required to help me fund my way through it.”

For Marianne it had been some time since she had been in education but as her partner was also studying at university at the same time it made the process much easier for her.

The 25-year-old, from Anfield, said: “It was difficult at first finding time after work to study as I had just bought my first home with my partner and we had a lot of renovation and decorating to do, but once I started writing my essays I found it enjoyable.”

“I actually found it easier than my partner because I was writing about my day-to-day role, whereas some students have to write essays about subjects that they have had no hands-on experience of.  Whilst other students had to spend time gaining knowledge through research, reading texts and journals I had already got five years of experience in the profession working for Quill Pinpoint so it was much easier for me to relate my experience to the theories rather than just reading about it.”

 “I am really proud to have achieved this level of qualification and gain recognition for all the work I have put in to my job. I feel so much more confident now as in everyday life you don't often take time out to think about how far you have come and how much you have learnt – I’m eager to carry on my qualification and hopefully someday complete a degree.”

An Employers Viewpoint

Maria Hadfield, HR & Development Director at Quill Pinpoint, said: “it is important for our staff to feel valued and integral to the business. Our business is only as strong as the people within it, and the key to success lies within the strength of the team. The benefits of this new programme have exceeded our expectations and this has undoubtedly contributed to staff retention and increased job satisfaction as well as attracting an increased interest in vacancies at Quill Pinpoint.”

Continuing professional development is valuable at every level in business and more so now in the current economic climate as there is a greater focus on streamlining and increased performance. Giving staff the opportunity to increase their skills and knowledge and achieve a university-accredited qualification will unquestionably aid businesses in improving quality and performance from their most valuable assets and continue to meet ever changing client needs.