3 Ways Your Employer Can Support Your QLTS Studies
There’s no way around it: studying for the QLTS, working full-time and maintaining commitments outside work is a big ask in terms of discipline and time management.
The financial cost is also significant, taking into account study materials, assessment fees and travel and logistics costs.
Upcoming changes will allow the MCT to be sat outside London will ease some of the timing, cost and logistical pressures. But despite this, many candidates are, in effect, still compressing the equivalent of a year’s full-time study into a few short months and balancing many other demands on their time during this period, and will want to avoid resit fees in the event that they are unsuccessful.
In the five years we have been supporting candidates preparing for QLTS dual-qualification, we have spoken with firms and individuals alike on this issue. We have compiled a list of ways employers can support employees seeking to enhance their skillset and add value to the business through dual-qualifying as an English solicitor through the QLTS.
Whether this list is useful depends, of course, on each candidate’s situation; taking the QLTS so as to dual-qualify and work as an English solicitor elsewhere is less likely to garner employer support than it would as part of a career development plan within a firm or organisation!
1: Study leave
We often recommend candidates take at least one week of leave prior to attempting the MCT.
This covers a few good days of dedicated focus on practicing the mock tests on our MCT Online Training System, travel to London, attempting the assessment itself and travel back to your original destination, plus some time to ‘decompress’.
For the OSCE, more time may be needed as the assessments often take place over more than one day.
Some employers have a policy that offers study leave in addition to holiday or sick leave. You may wish to check your internal policies or liaise with HR as to whether this is offered as standard.
If your employer does not normally allow for study leave, you may wish to consider speaking with your manager or supervisor and prepare a business case for authorised absence. If you can demonstrate how dual-qualification will benefit your employer and that you intend to stay with them long-term, this can be particularly persuasive.
2: Employer funding
Some employers recognise the value of dual-qualification and have trusted international lawyers on their team. This means they may be prepared to partly or wholly fund the QLTS, whether this includes paying for the training materials, or the costs of attending and attempting the assessments themselves, or both.
Such sponsorship may be on a case-by-case basis, or part of a broader firm policy that may support funding relevant training and development programmes. You may wish to check internally as to your own employers’ position and whether they are amenable to a persuasive business case for sponsorship if not.
A common condition is that the employer will only sponsor one attempt at each assessment; if the candidate fails the first time, they have to pay for further attempts themselves. This is a good incentive to prepare well and well in advance so that you can pass the QLTS assessments on the first attempt!
Employers who fund the course are often prepared to grant study leave as a concomitant part of this support, as well as potentially allowing for protected time during the working day to study.
3: Protected space and time
Even if your employer is not prepared to sponsor or grant additional leave for your assessments, you may find the office environment to more conducive to quiet, focused study for the QLTS than your home.
Consider asking your employer whether you can bring your study materials to work and use meeting spaces or quiet rooms before work, during lunch or after work to carry out your study. This will of course be subject to business need, but these spaces are often resources that are not used during these times. Better yet, if these spaces have PCs connected to the internet, you may also be able to use online resources to increase your knowledge, hone your skills and practice the assessments without interruption.
While formal study leave or sponsorship policies may not be the norm, your management team may recognise your initiative and effort in enhancing your skills and qualifications, and may be prepared to grant protected periods of time each day or week during which you may study. This again may be subject to business need, and for maximum effectiveness the protected time should also mean that you are unavailable for calls or e-mails during this period.
We would love to hear from you on whether and how your employer has supported your QLTS study efforts, and how this has benefited your preparation. Did this support further strengthen your relationship with and commitment to your employer?
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