Allen & Overy’s Smart Start becomes legal sector’s first accredited work experience scheme
Find out about the programme and how they got accredited
11 September 2014
Allen & Overy’s award-winning Smart Start Experience has become the first work experience programme in the legal sector to be accredited by City & Guilds, a global leader in skills development. The endorsement is a significant milestone in Allen & Overy’s long-term commitment to broadening access to high quality work experience.
Smart Start is one of Allen & Overy’s programmes under its commitment to PRIME, an alliance of 80 law firms across the UK who are committed to broadening access to the legal profession. PRIME has been cited as a ‘benchmark access programme’ by Alan Milburn, chair of The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission.
David Morley, senior partner at Allen & Overy, commented:
'City & Guilds accreditation is an important stamp of approval for the quality of our work experience programme. High quality work experience is a vital first step on the career ladder and is something that should be equally available to all young people, regardless of their background. We’re proud to be the first law firm accredited by City & Guilds, which means the students who take part receive formal recognition of their work as well as the invaluable experience the programme offers.'
Gary Woolton, customer co-ordinator at City & Guilds, commented:
'As we went through the accreditation process, it became clear this is not just a one week package. It’s a fully rounded training programme from application, completion of a challenge and selection to the chance to develop the skills of the students via work placements, mentor support and further study.
'The commitment from everyone at Allen & Overy in making the programme a huge success was important in the process. It was that commitment that struck me most. The facilitators and volunteers got as much out of it as the students, and that is why it is a perfect match for City & Guilds; changing people’s lives for the better.'
The week-long programme that has gained accreditation is part of Smart Start, which is now in its sixth year and has provided over 700 Year 12 students from non-privileged backgrounds with the chance to gain a real insight into the world of business and the opportunity to start building a network of contacts among business professionals.
The accreditation has been awarded by City & Guilds following a formal assessment. It recognises the outstanding quality of the work experience scheme, as well as Allen & Overy’s commitment to evaluating the students’ development and progression. This year, over 90% of participants said they felt more confident and ambitious as a result of taking part in the Smart Start Experience.