From the Pupillage Portal to the Pupillage Gateway…The All Important FAQ’s.
On the 26th November, the Bar Council announced the launch of a new online pupillage application system called ‘The Pupillage Gateway’, which is set to go live early next year. In a recent press release Michael Todd QC, Chairman of the Bar, believes that this new system will be easier than ever for applicants and chambers to manage the online pupillage process. However, the burning question at ‘The Pupillage Blog’ was, could this really be the case?
In this interview with the Bar Council, I can hopefully shed some legal rays of sunlight upon the forthcoming ‘Pupillage Gateway’ and persuasively put forward those all-important FAQ’s for both pupils and chambers alike, as attentions begin to shift towards this new bespoke online pupillage application system.
The Pupillage Gateway and the All Important FAQ’s – An Interview With The Bar Council
What has prompted the redesign and rebranding of the ‘Pupillage Portal’ given that this system has been regularly updated?
The contract for the provision of the Pupillage Portal expired, which gave us a good opportunity to take stock of the requirements of recruiters and candidates and select, via a competitive tender process, the most suitable supplier to meet those needs. We are confident that we have achieved this objective in the Pupillage Gateway.
From the information disseminated within the recent press release, is December to January a realistic timeframe, (given this is traditionally the Christmas period), to roll out a programme of market research to identify both products and services to help facilitate the pupillage recruitment process?
We are confident that we have a suitable window in which to assemble the required feedback to inform further our decision-making process.
What considerations where looked at when the Bar Council decided to reflect upon the previous ‘Pupillage Portal’ and amend those to create a new system?
We wanted to ensure that we could provide a modern and flexible system which could deal with the high-volume application process and respond both to the needs of Pupillage Training Organisations and candidates.
Feedback from a user-evaluation exercise in 2011 was factored into the development of the Pupillage Gateway. Requests for specific functionality – such as the option for chambers to customise questions, and an improved user guide – were included in the specification.
How will this online system differ from its predecessor given the identified comments and feedback directly driven from users and non-users of the previous online ‘Pupillage Portal’ system?
We have chosen a provider with a strong track record in supplying online recruitment solutions. We believe that this is a tried and tested system which will meet the requirements of the Gateway’s users.
Within the recent press release, it was identified that the ‘Pupillage Gateway’ would be a bespoke design built by Jobs Go Public (JGP), so would the Bar Council take overall full responsibility for the updating, administration and on-going end-user support or will this be this responsibility be handed over to JGP?
The Bar Council will take primary responsibility, with JGP handling all technical queries and issues.
So what are the significant enhancements to applicants and chambers through this new online system?
The Gateway will offer:
- An easy-to-navigate system
- The opportunity to edit pupillage vacancies and customise application forms
- The facility to add a Chambers Specific Question with word count adjustment
- An online marking system to assess applications on-screen and manage each application as it is received
- A clearer progress map of each candidate’s journey towards recruitment
- The ability to shortlist candidates for first and second round interviews with the option of creating interview slots or allowing candidates to log onto the system to book their interviews
- An email template to communicate updates to candidates at each stage of the process. The template can be edited and tailored to individual candidates, and
- The capability to view aggregated Equal Opportunities monitoring data online and offline. The data can be broken down according to the stage that each candidate has reached. The Gateway is already compliant with the Bar Standards Board’s regulations on Equality and Diversity.
Previously, applicants using the system would be able to choose a maximum of 12 applications to chambers, is this going to remain the same?
Will the ‘Pupillage Gateway’ allow chambers to individually administer their pupillage opportunities, or will this be addressed though a central administration process by the Bar Council?
All pupillage advertisements need to be approved by the BSB. However, chambers and Pupillage Training Organisations (PTOs) will be responsible for administering, via the system, the recruitment process from application to assessment and through to decisions on offering pupillage.
The Gateway has been developed to encourage all PTOs and chambers to capture data throughout the recruitment process so that candidates have a transparent view of their application.
What information has the Bar Council sought from those chambers intending to use the ‘Pupillage Gateway’ to define the type/style of questioning for the online applications so that it ensures a balanced, fair and consistent approach to all applicants?
The Bar Council produced a Fair Recruitment Guide in September 2012 to help barristers and chambers comply with the Bar Standard Board’s equality and diversity rules on recruitment and selection. The layout of the application form, and the questions within it, are based on the requirements set out by this Guide.
What training has or will be installed into the ‘Pupillage Gateway’ to ensure that chambers are approaching the selection criterion correctly and how will this be monitored?
The Bar Council’s Fair Recruitment Guide provides guidance for chambers on these matters.
Will the Bar Council either independently or with the support of the Inns, be providing any online or offline training/online videos to applicants or chambers seeking to use the new ‘Pupillage Gateway’?
Training will be provided for chambers on the functionality of the Gateway and FAQs will be provided for applicants, but we are confident that it is a straightforward and easy to use platform.
Given the importance of candidates preparing their online applications and submissions to chambers, when will a demonstration application be available for applicants to view online?
There will be a generic application form available to download from the Gateway from 1 March 2013. This form will help candidates to prepare thereby relieving the pressure on them to complete the application within a one-month window. This form will contain all but the specific questions from chambers.
Given the current discussions surrounding ‘access to the profession’ and ‘social mobility at the Bar’, how is the Bar Council intending to integrate and apply these principles of intent within the ‘Pupillage Gateway’, especially in view of the latest data and trends derived from the ‘2012 Bar Barometer’?
There will be full monitoring capabilities. The Gateway has been built to enable chambers to store and track equality and diversity data trends, helping them to adhere to requirements from the BSB.
Given the growing trend that chambers seem to be moving down a non-OLPAS route to enable recruitment throughout the year, is the ‘Pupillage Gateway’ seeking to foster this model, or will it remain to be a once yearly recruitment process?
The Gateway application system adheres to the general pupillage timetable (OLPAS and non-OLPAS), which is driven to a large extent by regulation.
A large number of chambers have used the central application system over the years and we are confident that the enhancements to the system will encourage more to sign up to it. The Gateway will recruit once a year but it will be accessible all-year-round advertising all pupillage vacancies, as required by regulation.
In the past it can be evidenced that not all sets of chambers have always provided details of their available Non-OLPAS pupillages upon the ‘Pupillage Portal’, or posted application details online within a timely manner. Will the Bar Council be addressing this often contentious issue?
All chambers are required by regulation from the BSB to advertise pupillage vacancies on the Gateway. The BSB will continue to monitor this requirement upon chambers.
Finally, is there an intention at any point for the Bar Council to develop a focus group to help support the on-going development of the ‘Pupillage Gateway’?
User feedback is, and always has been, an important part of being able to offer a relevant service. We will continuously seek feedback on the Gateway (and other products) from our diverse user-base, as we have done in the past.
My thanks to Toby Craig and the Communications Team at the Bar Council for the insight into the forthcoming ‘Pupillage Gateway’.
Well, one can only wait and see if applicants will be in for a smooth ride come the 1st March with the new ‘Pupillage Gateway’, but from a practical perspective I hope that the feedback from both pupils and chambers alike have driven through the necessary changes that will provide a slick, balanced and reliable online application process.
Stephen AKA Justin Time