Taylor Wessing is bringing the social mobility agenda to the fore with the launch of its inaugural Pathfinder Programme, an apprenticeship scheme which will begin in September 2017.

The programme will deliberately avoid the legal profession’s traditional three Cs at A level criteria, which historically has been a barrier to entry for candidates from underprivileged backgrounds. Taylor Wessing is instead working with Spear – an interactive programme which aids employment and career progression – to recruit candidates who may not previously have been in a position to achieve academic success, but who demonstrate the ability and the desire to learn.

Candidate qualification for the Pathfinder Programme will be based on the PRIME criteria.

Taylor Wessing has supported PRIME since 2011 with its ‘Tomorrow’s Talent’ work experience programme. This apprenticeship programme takes that a step further, allowing Taylor Wessing to invest much more fully in PRIME candidates across a two-year period, with the hope of retaining them as employees at the end of that period.

In addition, Taylor Wessing will be using video game assessment – already used as part of the firm’s trainee selection process – in order to avoid any unconscious bias affecting candidate selection.

The Pathfinder Programme will be available to four apprentices. Two will train as paralegals, one with Employment & Pensions and one with the firm’s ITTC practice. The other two will train within business services, joining the firm’s Talent and Marketing & Communications teams respectively.

Taylor Wessing has a history of pioneering the social mobility agenda, having become the first corporate supporter for Future First in 2010. Then a small start-up, Future First has since grown into an alumni community of more than 400 schools nationwide, giving state school pupils access to career building opportunities. Future First remains a key community partner for Taylor Wessing.

Dan Harris, Diversity and CSR Manager at Taylor Wessing, said:

 “The legal profession has made real progress in many areas of diversity, but social mobility has stalled slightly in comparison. By using the PRIME criteria for our Pathfinder Programme, we are hoping to start affecting real change. Attitude and aptitude are key; this is about providing opportunity for people with the right outlook and ability, regardless of background.”

Rebecca joined the HRreview editorial team in January 2016. After graduating from the University of Sheffield Hallam in 2013 with a BA in English Literature, Rebecca has spent five years working in print and online journalism in Manchester and London. In the past she has been part of the editorial teams at Sleeper and Dezeen and has founded her own arts collective.