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  • Recruit an apprentice and get £3,000, or more, for your business

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 20, 2021

    You already know that apprentices free up valuable time, bring fresh ideas, and add value to any business, whilst learning professional and technical skills in the workplace.

    But did you know about the government incentive offering your business £3,000 to £5,000*, to spend on anything you wish?

    You still have time to take advantage of the scheme, which includes:

    • A £3,000 payment for each apprentice you recruit of any age
    • An additional £1,000 payment for apprentices you recruit aged 16-18 years old
    • An additional £1,000 payment for apprentices you recruit aged under 25 with an education, health and care plan or who has been in the care of their local authority
    • No limits on your business size
    • No limits to the number of incentives you can claim

    You can even use our free, expert recruitment service to discover new apprentices, with no cost to you if you choose us as your training provider**. We screen the best talent and match them to your business needs, as well as:

    • Advertising your roles
    • Searching our existing database of over 900 active candidates
    • Proactively searching for new candidates

    Our accountancy, tax, banking, and finance apprenticeship programmes are completely flexible and can be started anytime. And our data and IT programmes have multiple cohorts throughout the year.

    All you need to do is make sure your apprentice starts employment before 30th September 2021, and has an apprenticeship start date before 30th November 2021.

    Get in touch with our team and start your recruitment process now.

    * £3000 per apprentice, based on government incentive. Plus additional incentive of £1000 for hiring a 16-18 year old apprentice or apprentice under 25 year old with an education, health and care plan or who has been in the care of their local authority
    ** charges may apply if the apprentice does not study with Kaplan or uses an alternative provider

  • Kaplan Podcast - University vs Apprenticeships

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 05, 2021

    We discuss the big question: What do I do next?

    Kaplan’s Learn Better Podcast is our brand new series, covering topical subjects to support our past, present, and future learners to succeed in both their studies and careers.

    In our first episode, host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning, and guest, help clarify the differences between pursuing the University vs Apprenticeships route into work.

    Joined by Apprenticeships Partnerships Director, Jenny Pelling, this episode covers where the job market is going, the difference in learning experiences, and how apprenticeships have become a genuine alternative to University.

    From practical application, to freedom of exploration, and the importance of money to personal development, this podcast will help you to understand the key questions you must ask yourself to decide what route is right for you.

    Key topics:

    • Pros and cons of Apprenticeships
    • Pros and cons of University
    • Where the job market is going
    • What questions you need to ask yourself to make an informed decision
    • Where to find further information.

    Tune in now to join the discussion.

  • Mental Fitness for the Long Term

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 22, 2021

    In our recent Mental Fitness webinar series, we share practical guidance on how best to maintain your health. Kaplan knows it is important for our learners to be mentally fit and to feel confident, especially as we look to return to life outside of the lockdown.

    To support awareness and understanding we created a series of webinars, sharing practical guidance and discussing key topics to help you to adapt and strengthen your own mental fitness.

    Joined by expert mental health speaker, Ross McWilliam of Mindset Pro, we cover the transition from working from home, foundations for long term mental fitness, and how to develop your emotional confidence.

    This three part series aimed to help us prepare for both short and long term challenges, whilst gaining healthy habits to aid in strengthening overall mental fitness.

    Key topics

    Episode 1: Mental fitness now: how to adapt to the transition from WFH to hybrid or office working.

    Covering:

    • How stress can both help and hinder our performance
    • The wide variation of COVID responses and their validity
    • Behaviour in the workplace: listen to understand rather than listening to interrupt

    Episode 2: Mental fitness for the long term: foundations to build upon

    Covering:

    • The five pillars of well-being
    • How to avoid reaching burn-out
    • Employing proactive coping strategies

    Episode 3: Gaining emotional confidence: overcoming Imposter Syndrome and how to maximise performance

    Covering:

    • Recognising and managing Imposter Syndrome
    • How to maintain self-esteem and confidence
    • How mental fitness can help you to progress in your professional and personal lives

    Interested in finding out more?

    After the initial three seminars were so well received, with a 97% score being given for speaker satisfaction, we're running six more webinars. From September we will be running one a month covering relevant and helpful topics to support your mental fitness.

    The seminars were useful for confidence in the workplace after a challenging year. Lots of techniques to build on and share.

    - seminar delegate

    Follow us on social media to stay up to date on the upcoming seminars.

  • Do I need to be good at maths to study accountancy?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 08, 2021

    This could be the shortest blog in the world if we just said - no, you don’t need to be good at maths to study accountancy. But we thought you’d like to know why maths isn’t the be all and end all of being an accountant.

    There’s much more to accountancy than calculations, and you might already have the skills to make you great at it.

    What level of maths do I need then?

    To enrol on an entry level accounting course, such as AAT Foundation, you need a decent grasp of maths, preferably GCSE grade 9-4 (A*-C). So you don’t need to be a maths genius, or have a maths degree.

    What skills do I need to be an accountant?

    So we’ve established you don’t need incredibly sophisticated maths skills. But you will need to have good analytical skills, alongside an attention to detail. You’ll need to be able to spot anomalies and analyse why they could be there, and report to the business your findings.

    Good communication skills are also essential. You’ll have to be able to explain potentially complicated accounting in layman’s terms. The people you’ll be talking to might not completely understand the world of accountancy - it’s your job to make sure they comprehend what’s going on in their finances.

    Being organised is accountant 101. You’ll need to be able to keep track of multiple accounts, meet deadlines, and follow proper reporting procedures. You’ll need to be able to keep track of paperwork - one missing piece could cause massive delays for your business or client.

    Time management goes hand in hand with being organised. Financial reporting adheres to strict deadlines, so you can’t just put off something you don’t want to do, or take too long working on one issue. Hitting deadlines is something that will need to be second nature.

    Computer literacy and the ability to adapt to new software is very important too. When you study accounting you’ll learn about different software packages, but the business you go into may use something different. You’ll need to learn quickly and get to grips with their systems.

    Being proficient with spreadsheets is also a great skill to have - you might want to do a separate Excel course to make sure you’re comfortable with them.

    What can I earn as an accountant?

    Like any other career, it can depend on location and experience. But the average UK salary for an accountant is £42,500* per year. This can rise to well over £100,000 if you become a Chief Financial Officer - so a career in accounting can be rather lucrative.

    Interested in accounting?

    If you’re ready to find out more, have a look at AAT - it’s the start of a great accounting career.

    *totaljobs.com

  • Kaplan ranked 8th place in the RateMyApprenticeship’s Top 50 Training Providers

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 08, 2021

    Kaplan have been shortlisted and ranked highly in the RateMyApprenticeship Top Training Providers Table 2021-2022.

    (Updated July 2021)

    The RateMyApprenticeship Awards took place on 15th July, and we are delighted to not only be shortlisted, but to be ranked 8th place. 

    The table consists of the top 50 training providers based on 6,000 student-written reviews, spanning across all apprenticeship and school leaver schemes on RateMyApprenticeship.

    At the awards, all of the Top Training Providers were announced in descending order along with the winners of the other awards.

    Last year we ranked 10th out of 300 providers, so are very proud to be recognised again, and to also surpass our previous accomplishment. It's great acknowledgment of our continued dedication to supporting our learners again this year.

    We’ve had to make changes due to the corona outbreak. Moving away from physical classrooms to online classrooms and working hard to add that community and social element to the learning experience, so that people still feel part of a group

    - Richard Marsh - Apprenticeship Partnerships Director

    The Awards took place virtually on Thursday 15th July 2021. To see the full ranking list please visit their page.  

  • WorldSkills National Qualifiers are almost here

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 08, 2021

    Apprentices across the UK will compete to secure a place in the WorldSkills UK LIVE finals.

    Kaplan values showcasing the talent of UK apprentices, as well as recognising their hard work. So we are extremely proud to be hosting the WorldSkills Accounting Technician competition this year.

    WorldSkills UK is an independent charity and a partnership between employers, education and governments who support young people across the world via competitions-based training, assessment and benchmarking.

    The Qualifiers for the National Accounting Technician competition are due to take place on Thursday 15th July and will be held via Zoom.

    The team competition is aimed at learners currently undertaking a Level 3 apprenticeship or higher, those with an equivalent qualification (e.g. HND in Accounting), or those who have completed one of these within the past 12 months.

    Designed by our industry expert Kaplan tutors, the competition looks to assess knowledge, practical skills and employability attributes of competitors. It also helps develop qualities valued by employers such as team work, problem solving, time management, judgment and working under pressure.

    A total of 16 made it through the initial stage and will be taking part in the Qualifiers in mid July.

    The qualifying teams are from Lloyds Banking Group, Oldham College, Lincoln College, Bridgend College, City of Glasgow College, and Riverside College.

    Each team will have two hours to complete a case study task and present it back to the three judges. The results will then be announced within a few weeks to see who will move forward to compete in the National Finals in November.

    We’ll be sharing further details following the results, so keep an eye out to see who will progress, and for the full details of the UK LIVE finals.

    For more information about WorldSkills UK and the competitions check out their website.

  • Learning from our apprentices - full report

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 25, 2021

    At Kaplan, we’re always interested in trying new methods to understand our learners and how their programmes impact their life and career. So, in January 2020, we took the first steps on an ambitious ten year study of 20 apprentices to find out.

    If this sounds in any way familiar, you may be correct. The idea for this study took inspiration from the “Seven Up” documentary series.

    This highly influential series was led by Michael Apted, as he set out to interview 14 British school children from different socio-economic backgrounds. This was done every seven years from the age of seven, and continued over several decades.

    Gaining insights into apprentices

    Whilst we are not expecting to receive the same acclaim or create ground-breaking television, we want to try and gain rich insights into the experiences of our apprentices, not just during their studies, but also after completion of their programmes and well into their careers.

    We hoped to gain a deeper understanding as to how completing an apprenticeship affected a learner’s development, attitude to work and future prospects.

    Whilst we couldn’t anticipate what was in store for the apprentices taking part in our study in 2020 (or the larger world), they were all eager to continue, and we were fascinated to see how agile and adaptable our learners were in such difficult circumstances.

    The study going forward

    In early 2020 we held initial conversations to identify 20 volunteers across a range of clients, apprenticeship standards and levels. With the approval of their employers, the apprentices were contacted about the project and agreed on the following aspects of the study going forward:

    • Apprentice of our Time interviews will run from 2020 to 2030.
    • Every six months whilst ‘on programme’, they are contacted by phone/video conference to answer questions on: their development, career progression, perception of the value of apprenticeships, what they would recommend to others about apprenticeships, and where they predict they will be in five years’ time.
    • After completing the apprenticeship, they will be interviewed every twelve months.
    • Responses from the interviews are kept anonymous, but insights and findings are shared in an annual report in the first quarter of every year.
    • We will also disseminate the findings with our senior leadership team and external assurance board and utilise the apprentices' insights to inform programme amendments and adjustments to our provision.
    • Our apprentices’ words will provide guidance to those following in their footsteps.

    We are immensely grateful to our clients who are supporting us with this project and to our 2020 Apprentices of Our Time.

    Initial findings

    We have compiled the first of our findings from this study into a report - “Apprentice of our Time”. Some of the key findings show just how much of an impact apprenticeships have for businesses and the apprentices themselves.

    Read the report - Apprentice of our Time

    If you’re interested in apprenticeships you can find out more on our pages for learners and employers.

  • The Data Analyst Apprenticeship has been revised

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 16, 2021

    Here we break down the changes through an infographic.

    The Data Analyst apprenticeship empowers people to break down data into clear and actionable information.

    It gives apprentices the chance to learn the process for requirement-gathering, inspecting, cleansing, transforming and modelling data with the goal of discovering useful information, informing conclusions and supporting decision-making.

    And it provides essential upskilling for employers in any sector where data is used for business decisions.

    Here are the recent changes that have been made to Level 4 Data Analyst Apprenticeship.

    Data Analyst Apprenticeship Infographic
  • Upskilling at work - the Data Analytics Apprentice

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 16, 2021

    A marketing manager and a Kaplan employee, Alex Devall started a Data Analytics course to help boost his career prospects. Here is his story. 

    Hi Alex, why study Data Analytics?

    I wanted to address a skill (and weakness!) that I didn’t have.

    So far in my marketing career I’ve been largely focused on writing and communications so this area (data) was neglected. When I first started working in marketing data analytics was nowhere near as prevalent as it is now, but today many business decisions are based on interpreting data.

    The course suits me as it’s more of an entry level programme. It teaches you how to read data that has been taken from different sources and communicate to stakeholders in a meaningful and actionable way.

    How’s it going so far?

    I’ve been doing it for 3 months now (from March 2021). It’s going well. I’m enjoying the way it’s taught.

    If I compare it to the way my uni degree was taught then it comes across particularly well. They really mix things up in a way that keeps you on your toes.

    They teach you for a bit and then move onto interactive exercises and mini assessments to make sure you are constantly engaging with the learning material.

    However, at uni I could be studying a topic for a long time and not really have those ‘check in’ moments where I am getting live feedback or bouncing ideas off other students.

    The course is great because I’m always aware of my weaknesses and where I need to improve. So there’s a greater chance I am prepared going into the exam.

    Have there been any major challenges thus far?

    It’s hard to say because it’s early days. But learning through Live Online was something I needed to adapt to as it’s totally new to me. I must say though, Kaplan did a really good job in easing me into it.

    Live Online is just like being in a classroom - but virtual. It’s a live environment, with a breakout room, and it is really engaging. Similar to a classroom, you have to be engaged in the discussion.

    I didn’t think it would be like that. I thought it might be isolating and that I might feel quite removed from everything, but it isn’t like that at all. You can’t really get away with being mentally detached.

    They give you onboarding exercises to make sure you are comfortable with everything and that everyone is on the same page.

    I’m in with a nice cohort of other students and the tutor knows us all individually at this point.

    What are you looking to use the qualification for? Is it helping with your role?

    It helps with my job as it improves my reporting and understanding the various channels we use, therefore helping me make informed decisions. During the pandemic all financial consequences have been heightened, so there is a stronger emphasis on working more efficiently.

    In terms of my future role I think it will really help in the way shape narratives around performance to major stakeholders throughout the business. As I progress to management level there will be more emphasis on communicating data to wider stakeholders to inform big consequential decisions.

    How are you fitting it in with your job?

    The balancing act was something I was worried about before I started. I got promoted around the same time of starting this course too so I was concerned I would be overwhelmed. But the company and my line manager have been really supportive.

    We carefully plan the time out in my diary so that I can comfortably take on the apprenticeship, in addition to my job responsibilities.

    My apprenticeship is clearly benefiting my job so there are few complaints at the moment. My job and course are so relevant to each other it only feels like a positive to be doing both. Having a supportive manager and company really helps.

    Having said that, it is a bit of a challenge balancing both, but it’s more than worth the extra effort.

    Any final thoughts?

    For future apprentices, I would say make all invested parties aware of what workload you have for both your job and your course so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Set the expectations as early as possible so you are all on the same page - then it’s happy days.

    For more information on our data analytics course, please see our Data Technician Apprenticeship standard.

  • Kaplan apprentices shortlisted for the 2021 BAME apprenticeship awards

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 27, 2021

    The BAME Apprenticeship Awards celebrate diversity and reflect the outstanding work and achievement of apprentices from black and minority ethnic groups. This year is no different.

    The awards are such a force for positivity and change, across the board. As stated by the board themselves previously “It wasn’t just apprentices being recognised, but a number of employers were awarded for their contribution to equality, diversity and inclusion in apprenticeships.”

    This year, the categories that are up for grabs are:

    • Accounting and Finance (sponsored by Kaplan)
    • Legal and Professional Services
    • Health, Medical and Social Care
    • Retail, Hospitality and Tourism
    • Charity, Voluntary, and Public Services
    • Construction Services
    • Engineering and Manufacturing
    • Creative, Media and Marketing
    • Digital and Technology
    • Transport and Logistics
    • Judges Choice
    • Small Medium Employer
    • Large Employer
    • Learning Provider

    We have a large number of apprentices from BAME backgrounds and are so proud of all the work that they do. Given that it’s an award we are especially invested in, this year we were more than happy to sponsor the Accounting and Finance category.

    Shortlist

    Over the past month we encouraged our apprentices to submit entries for the 2021 awards, and we are delighted to report that the following Kaplan apprentices have been shortlisted:

    Accounting and finance category:

    Omolade Ojo - Lloyds Banking Group

    Prem Manimaran - PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

    Tianna Oti - RSA

    Melissa Boadu - Jigsaw Business Solutions Ltd

    Judges choice:

    Brian Kasanda - EY

    Hopefully there’ll be at least one Kaplan winner on the night!

    The final judging day will take place in June, with the event taking place virtually on the 30th September. We hope you can make time to attend what will no doubt be an inspiring event.

    For more information on how we did last year, read our previous awards blog.

  • Top 4 biggest myths about studying Data Analytics

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 20, 2021

    Regardless of your industry, now is a great time to invest in data analytics training for your team. Here we debunk some of the most common misconceptions.

    You may have certain ideas about data analytics, you may believe you have enough info on the subject, and you may think it isn’t relevant to your team.

    The truth is all organisations could improve performance if they embraced data analytics. Here are the common myths.

    I need a team of data scientists to make the most of data analytics

    Having people skilled with data could benefit any team, in today’s digital climate. If data is embraced and fully comprehended by a business, then it can be effective.

    Rather than hire outside help, you can upskill your current staff (e.g finance analysts) to be more proficient with data analytics. This will ultimately be more cost effective than bringing in specialist consultants.

    Data is best handled by someone with some technical acumen, but also someone who’s already aligned with the business goals.

    I need a huge budget

    The myth that data analytics is expensive prevents hundreds of companies from successfully leveraging it.

    The reality is that data analytics solutions can be cost-efficient, but you need to use an effective data set and train people to interpret it well in order to see that return on investment.

    And it’s never been more affordable.

    There are three major factors behind these falling prices: the cost of data storage going down, the cost of data analytics software going down, and the ease of collecting data (more data available than ever before).

    Beatriz Sanz Saiz, the Global Leader of analytics advisory firm EY, comments:

    [Modern analytics] are based on cloud systems and big data architecture, which by definition are quite less expensive than traditional data warehouse systems.

    I need “big data”

    Big tech companies such as Google and Facebook have been amongst the most successful early adopters of analytics. With it they have generated hundreds of billions in revenue - but you don’t need to be a tech giant to enhance decision making through data analytics.

    Dominos pizza, for instance, embraced big data to understand more about individual customers buying patterns. With their data they targeted their audience with specific offers/ products on the right platform (smart tv, smart watch, mobile, social media etc), at the right time.

    55-58% of their orders are now made through online channels*. Domino’s has transformed from a pizza restaurant to a technology company that sells pizza!

    Harnessing machine learning can be transformational, but for it to be successful, enterprises need leadership from the top.

    - Erik Brynjolfsson, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy

    Data Analytics leads to job losses

    This is the most widely held myth about data analytics - that artificial intelligence will eliminate the need for people to perform certain tasks.

    Employees need to stop feeling threatened by AI and instead harness the technology to boost their work. Using data can make certain process more efficient and give you access to a much wider set of possibilities - enhancing the human decision making process.

    Certain repetitive, laborious, data entry roles may become less in demand, but this frees up the time and space to gather valuable insights and improve decision making.

    Final thoughts

    Data Analytics can be a useful tool for any team, working in any business, in any industry. It’s just about ensuring you have an effective data set, and the people who are able to interpret this data can use it as the basis for sound decision making.

    Right now, upskilling and training your colleagues/employees in data literacy is paramount, as a deep comprehension of the subject leads to incredible customer/consumer insight.

    After all, we need to understand data - to understand human behaviour.

    For more information please see our data analytics course page.

    *https://www.bernardmarr.com/default.asp?contentID=1264

  • Kaplan gears up for phase two of Data & IT apprenticeships

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 29, 2021

    Following the launch of our initial digital apprenticeship programmes, we are now gearing up for several new standards launching in 2021.

    Originally set up to combat the rising skills shortage in the UK workforce, Kaplan’s digital apprenticeship programmes have proven popular with learners, with cohorts underway or scheduled across all three standards.

    Looking forward to the next phase of our foray into data and IT apprenticeships, we have several exciting new programmes in the pipeline this year. These new programmes further diversify our digital learning options for both learners and clients, and represent the second phase of our digital roadmap throughout 2021 and beyond.

    What new programmes are launching?

    There are five new Data and IT apprenticeship programmes launching in the next 6 months.

    They are:

    • Finance Data Technician, Level 3 - May
    • Information Communication Technician, Level 3 - September
    • Software Development Technician, Level 3 - September
    • Software Developer, Level 4 - September
    • DevOps Engineer, Level 4 - October

    These programmes cross a range of technical disciplines, and are a stepping stone into some of the careers most in need in the UK at present.

    These standards last between 12 and 21 months and, as per all our apprenticeship programmes, have funding options for non-levy paying companies up to 95%. They will also benefit from the best-in-class pathways and study options offered by Kaplan, as well as access to experienced talent coaches and some of the best tutors in these fields.

    Jason Moss, Director of Digital Apprenticeship development, comments:

    Kaplan’s digital apprenticeship standards provide a great way of preparing your business for the challenges of tomorrow. They also have a vital role to play in helping job seekers access the still buoyant Digital jobs market - providing opportunities for anyone to access well paid and rewarding careers.

    Interested in one of our new digital apprenticeships?

    We’ll be announcing more about these programmes in the coming months, but if you want to give your company a competitive advantage through one of these new apprenticeships, you can request a callback and our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

    We also have further cohorts of our current digital apprenticeships starting soon. Check them out on our apprenticeship standards page, and get in touch to discuss.

  • Speaking with Apprenticeship and Skills Minister about the future of apprenticeships

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 18, 2021

    During last February's National Apprenticeship Week, we had the pleasure of speaking to the Apprenticeships and Skills Minister about building for the future through apprenticeships.

    During our recent Kaplan Introduces event the Minister, Gillian Keegan, spoke directly to our Apprenticeship Advisory Panel (which is made up of existing Kaplan Apprentices). During the event, they described their experiences of the programmes, and how apprenticeships have positively impacted their lives and careers.

    Given that Gillian is the first Apprenticeship and Skills Minister to be a former apprentice herself, she was able to speak persuasively from experience. She offered words of encouragement to our panel and those attending the webinar.

    It takes courage to take the path less travelled and not take a more obvious university route.

    - Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister.

    Gillian was also able to debunk the myth that apprenticeships have fewer financial benefits than other learning pathways: “We know apprenticeships work, and that apprentices go on to out-earn in many cases anybody who went down the graduate route”.

    In a wide-ranging conversation about the future of apprenticeships, it was acknowledged that they are currently one of the country’s “best-kept secrets”. But it seems that the government is committed to increasing support and awareness for standards across all sectors, as part of the Coronavirus recovery plan entitled “Build back better”.

    Speaking about the range of practical experience offered by apprenticeships over traditional classroom-based learning, the Minister was very aware of the unique challenges presented to apprentices. She commended them on their perseverance during a challenging year: “Thanks to all of you for contributing to your businesses over the past year, which wouldn’t have happened in a traditional classroom environment”.

    Gillian also expressed positivity at the effort we were making to engage directly with learners to impact future programme structure and content: “Today’s Advisory Panel is a fantastic example of success, and it is encouraging to hear Kaplan using a panel of apprentices to get feedback”.

    To round off, the Minister reinforced her encouragement for those considering taking the plunge: “If you’re thinking of an apprenticeship, don’t hesitate. It really is life-changing and you’ll never regret it, so go for it”.

    Watch the full webinar launch of our interview with Gillian Keegan, Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills.

    If you’re interested in becoming an apprentice, or are a business and would like to enquire about our programmes, please contact us for more information.

  • 2021 Budget extends Apprenticeship deadline and boosts incentive

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 03, 2021

    As part of an economic support package released in summer 2020, the Government introduced a financial incentive for employers to take on new employees as Apprentices. It has now been extended.

    This incentive was due to end in April 2021 but, following the Chancellor’s announcement, it has been extended until September 2021. This will now cover the vital summer recruitment period.

    And to make things even more attractive, the amount payable has been increased to £3,000 per Apprentice, regardless of age (it was £2,000 for younger apprentices but just £1,500 for anyone employed over 25).

    This means that any employer taking on an Apprentice can benefit from:

    • A £3,000 cash payment per Apprentice hired (new employees only)
    • A 95% subsidy of the training costs (if not paying via the Apprenticeship levy)
    • National Insurance breaks if the Apprentice is aged under 25

    All in all, it’s a very supportive package.

    Flexi-apprenticeships

    Another headline grabbing measure is an extension of the Apprenticeship Training Association (ATA) model, which is a bit like a temp agency for apprentices.

    ATAs employ Apprentices and then ‘hire’ them out to other employers to complete elements of their Apprenticeship. That way Apprentices get lots of experience, plus smaller employers who perhaps couldn't afford to provide a whole apprenticeship can now participate by offering a limited amount of employment.

    Unfortunately, however, the 10 Apprentice maximum for non Levy paying employers has been retained. But apart from that there is now a very good reason to see what an Apprentice can do for your business!

  • Avoiding unconscious bias through blind recruitment

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 02, 2021

    ‘Blind recruitment’ is when we remove any personal information from a CV or application in an attempt to eliminate unconscious bias. But how does this work in practice?

    By removing a candidate’s gender, ethnicity, age, education and any other personal attributes, the hiring managers can assess them based on skills and experience alone. This is an effective way to create more diversity in the workplace.

    What is unconscious bias?

    Unconscious bias is when we form an opinion or make a decision/judgement based on our own life experiences, assumptions or background. This can subconsciously influence our thought process and play a big part in the choices we make, without us actually realising it.

    There are a few ways in which you could adopt the blind recruitment process, one of which would be removing all “or some” personal information from a candidate CV. For instance:

    • Name – This could potentially identify the candidate’s gender.
    • Locations – This would mean removing the candidates address or the location of any work or education.
    • Names of Schools, colleges or higher education – Remove the names of any learning or education establishments as this could identify, what some may think, is a more prestigious college or university than others.
    • Names of companies they have worked for – instead, here you would write “accountancy “firm”, “insurer” or “supermarket” for example.
    • Hobbies and Interests – The hiring manager could make assumptions on certain hobbies or have similar interests to the candidate, therefore identify more with a particular candidate.

    Another way in which you could adopt the blind screening process would be to identify three top skills you would like the candidate to possess for the position. i.e:

    • Good team working skills.
    • Good IT skills.
    • Being able to work independently/manage your own caseload.

    Best practice is to ask candidates to write 250 words of evidence of how they meet each of the criteria you have set out and then make your shortlist for interview from this evidence. This would remove any bias and select candidates based on the skills they can demonstrate and experience they have.

    You could also ask colleagues from different departments to take part in the screening process. It could add more diversity to the screening process if you include people from different age groups, ethnic backgrounds or genders. This would add a different perspective and point of view.

    Diversity also boosts performance

    Using a blind recruitment process enables you to use a more equal and fair system, not only would this create greater inclusivity and diversity in organisations but it would also be good for business.

    According to recent research by Bourke and Espedido (2019)*, teams with inclusive leaders are:

    • 17% more likely to report they are a high-performing team
    • 20% more likely to say they make high-quality decisions
    • 29% more likely to report they are behaving collaboratively

    In addition, a 10% improvement in the perception of inclusion increases work attendance by an average of nearly one day per employee.

    With the above in mind, you may think of your own blind screening methods, to ensure you’re recruiting a more diverse and stronger workforce.

    *https://hbr.org/2019/03/why-inclusive-leaders-are-good-for-organizations-and-how-to-become-one

  • Creating a professional CV for school and college leavers

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 26, 2021

    When applying for an apprenticeship or full-time job you need to be presenting yourself to the employer or training provider as a professional. The language, layout and format you use all impact how you come across.

    If you are a school or college leaver, writing your first CV can feel overwhelming. We have some helpful insights to help you showcase the very best of yourself. We have even prepared a template to help you get started that you can download for free at the bottom of this post.

    Firstly, what is a CV and when should I create one?

    A Curriculum Vita (CV) is a reflection of you and your first chance to make a good impression. It will show off your skills and experience, persuading any hiring manager that you are the right person for the job.

    You should think of your CV as a living document.

    It can expand, develop and specialise as you move through your career. It is good practice to keep updating your CV on a regular basis, regardless of whether you are happily in full-time education or employment.

    By regularly updating your CV, you will be able to capture your new experience, responsibilities and skills in the moment while they are fresh in your mind. It will also mean that you are ready to accept new opportunities as soon as they arise.

    Your experience and skills

    If you do not have any relevant work experience yet, don't worry! Just ensure that your enthusiasm for the role comes across on the page.

    You may like to consider adding a ‘skills’ section in your CV and linking any events you have attended or hobbies you have. If you can link it to skills you know are needed for the role then - even better! This will show how much you have thought about the role you are applying for.

    Make sure to include your IT skills as well as your personal skills as these will be relevant to all jobs. You could consider mentioning any significant awards or achievements from school or college which will demonstrate a strong work ethic.

    What you should and shouldn’t include in your CV can be subjective but it still can be helpful to have someone read it and give feedback based on what they think it says about you.

    Tailoring your CV

    When the hiring manager looks at your CV they should be able to see that you have all the skills and behaviours needed for the apprenticeship or role you are applying for. This is where tailoring your CV before you send it off can make a big difference.

    Before you start writing your CV try a mind map looking at:

    • Why you want to work in the sector (Such as the Financial Services or Accounting sector).
    • What do you know about the qualifications or the professional bodies you will be studying with (such as AAT, CIMA etc.).
    • What do you know about the employer you are hoping to work for?
    • What are your short and long-term career goals?
    • What relevant skills or experience do you have that make you a good fit for this specific role?

    Is there a way for you to include any of your understanding and enthusiasm from your mind map into your CV?

    Layout and formatting

    Don’t underestimate the importance of a strong and clear layout. Here are some things you can be thinking about.

    • Easy to read language.
    • A consistent font type.
    • Present information in a logical order - use sufficient spacing, clear section headings in bold (e.g. work experience, education) always make sure you highlight your most recent achievements.
    • Maybe use bullet points when listing your skills or duties for any work experience - they are a great way to draw attention to any key facts or relevant information.
    • Personal details at the top of your CV i.e. name, address, contact number, and email.
    • Start with a personal statement / personal profile.
    • List any core skills you have and feel are suitable for the position.
    • Education - clearly list the school/college you attended along with the date, as well as subjects studied and grades achieved or predicted.
    • List any work experience, starting with the most recent.
    • State your hobbies and interests at the bottom of your CV.
    • Lastly, state the names of two references or advise these will be available on request.

    What not to do on your CV

    • Inconsistent formatting - pick a font and stick to it.
    • Boxes, tables or images - make sure you are just using text on your CV, there is no need to put the text into boxes. You do not need to upload a picture of yourself on your CV, or use any images or tables.
    • Age - do not state your age on your CV, this will remove any unconscious bias.
    • Too much text and long paragraphs - stick to the facts and the points you want to make. Long paragraphs will put the reader off and won’t get through your whole CV. Try limiting your CV to two pages if possible.
    • Spelling - always check your spelling and grammar. With apprenticeships, one of the main skills an employer is looking for is attention to detail. You do not want this to be a factor as to why you did not get invited to an interview. Always make sure you proofread your CV, or ask a family member or friend to take a look.

    We hope this gives you some good food for thought when it comes to the task of writing your first CV. 

    Free CV template

    We've created a blank CV template to help you get started on writing your CV. Feel free to download it and edit to suit your needs, keeping in mind our pointers above.

    CV template (Microsoft Word document) ›

    CV template (PDF) ›

  • Virtual Interview Top Tips

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 26, 2021

    The working landscape has changed drastically, and like most businesses Kaplan has also made major changes. This includes changing our recruitment practices.

    If you have a job interview this year, it’s highly likely that this may come in the form of a virtual interview.

    What is a virtual interview?

    A virtual interview is still an interview, except it will be remote requiring you to use a laptop or PC and video conferencing software like Zoom, Microsoft Teams. The interview could even be over the phone.

    Here are a few simple tips on how to make the most out of your virtual interview space:

    1. Test your tech
    2. Dress to impress
    3. Set the scene
    4. Limit distractions
    5. Body language boost
    6. Be professional but be yourself
    7. Follow-up

    1. Test your tech

    This might seem obvious but test your technology. Is your internet connection stable? It might be worth considering having your phone ready to tether from as a backup should your connection go down.

    Test the software. Your prospective employee may have sent you a link for the meeting so it can be a good idea to familiarise yourself with it. Make sure you log in early to test the connection. That way if you have any issues there is time to troubleshoot or contact your interviewer.

    2. Dress to impress

    Dress how you would to an in-person interview. If in doubt go smart, a button down shirt/blouse with a tie/blazer and smart trousers. You can always ask the working dress code during the interview.

    It’s always better to be too smart than too casual. Your prospective employer will want to see that you’ve made an effort. Dressing to impress can also help boost your confidence. If you feel professional, there’s a good chance you’ll act the part too.

    3. Set the scene

    What does your environment look like? Your ‘interview window’ which will be your interview background should reflect your professionalism too. Think about what is behind you. This can be tricky if your laptop is in your bedroom but a bit of simplicity goes a long way.

    Is there a bookshelf behind you? Make sure it’s tidy. Are there lot of photographs visible? It may be better to remove or cover them. It may sound obvious but clearing the decks can go a long way to looking more professional.

    4. Limit your distractions

    Turn your phone onto silent. It may be useful to have it close by incase you need it if you have a wifi emergency, but you don’t want to be distracted by a notification coming in and make sure you shut pets out of the room.

    5. Get a body language boost

    Getting your body language right remotely can be tricky but the plus side is you can practice from the comfort of your room. You could even do a test run with a friend or relative and practice how you appear on camera.

    Sit up straight and keep a good posture. You can be expressive but keep your movements controlled. You’ll want to show how personable you are so don’t be afraid to smile and show good humor.

    Before the interview itself you can give yourself a body language boost by standing upright, legs shoulder width apart, arms held up above your head for 2 minutes. This has been proven to help with interview confidence by holding your body in a positive power position. Before you’d have to disappear to a toilet cubicle but now you have the freedom of your own home.

    6. Be professional and be yourself

    It’s more straightforward to make a good impression when you attend an interview in person. Making eye contact and shaking hands goes a long way to making a positive first impression.

    You’ll want to build a personal connection with your interviewer(s) quickly so be prepared to make some neutral small-talk perhaps about a common interest, or ask them a question as to how their interviews are going remotely. Chances are that this is an unusual experience for them too.

    7. Follow up email

    Whether face to face or virtual, it can be a good idea to send a follow-up email to your interviewer(s). You can thank them for their time, ask if they have any questions or simply mention that you are looking forward to hearing from them. Keep it short and professional and make sure you give it a proofread before you send.

    Written by Richard Mansfield, a Kaplan Student Experience Officer in partnership with Sarah Gifford CIAG Lead (Career Information, Advice & Guidance).

  • How we remotely OnBoarded new cohorts during a pandemic

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 04, 2021

    Kaplan’s Client Director, Surj Kanani, details the steps taken last year to prevent disruption when onboarding was moved to online.

    What became very clear last May was that the September 2020 trainee cohorts were going to be done remotely.

    Given the numbers involved, with some of our largest clients, the thought of doing this was... scary. I was tasked with supporting one of our key clients (Crowe UK LLP) in this journey.

    I remember reflecting on the challenge and focusing on putting my initial concerns to one side in order to make the transition as smooth as possible.

    Here’s what we had to do in the months leading up to September.

    June 2020 - Application forms

    As part of the apprenticeship sign up process, we are required to obtain personal information along with previous qualifications/education for each new trainee.

    Historically we sent forms to individuals and asked them to complete them. However we were acutely aware that doing this for 50 new trainees wasn’t going to be efficient or effective. So we implemented a new bulk process.

    This allowed the Crowe HR team to collate and provide information in an easier way. We also pre-populated the forms for each of the individuals.

    This massively streamlined the apprentice application journey, and if a problem did arise it was easy to resolve.

    July 2020 - Pathway planning

    With courses being delivered via Live Online for the remainder of 2020, myself and my colleague, Senior Adviser, Harry made sure that all the trainees were aware of their study plans.

    It was imperative that each individual had a clear plan of what the first three months of their Crowe career looked like, given the “new normal”.

    We were also able to adapt to different start dates for cohorts as a result of our Live Online study method and the flexibility it offers.

    August 2020 - Preparing for September

    Annual leave issues provided some cause for concern.

    Harry, the team, and I had a call in August to address the fact that we were both due to go away at the same time. Amazingly this was the only time we hadn’t co-ordinated our diaries over the last three months!

    However, it quickly became clear that everything had come together anyway and there were no real concerns. So in some ways we had achieved a smoother onboarding process than the pre COVID days.

    September 2020 - Inductions

    All the hard work we put in really paid off when it came to inducting the trainees.

    I delivered a video conference explaining apprenticeships and ICAEW at Kaplan, setting clear expectations and outlining the support offered by Kaplan and Crowe.

    I also highlighted some study tips for the three years ahead, especially for the first three months of learning remotely!

    I look back on this journey as one of the few positives in 2020, and feel honoured to have worked so closely with Harry and the Crowe team on an exciting project that has had a positive impact.

    If you are looking for an apprenticeship training provider then please visit our apprenticeships page for more information.

  • Lots to expect at the 2021 National Apprenticeship Week

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 04, 2021

    National Apprenticeship Week is just around the corner, running from 8th-14th February, and there will be many things to get involved with.

    NAW is an annual celebration of all things apprenticeships, and this year will be no different - if a little more virtual-based than usual. The theme for this year’s National Apprenticeship Week is “Build the Future”, which we think is very apt.

    There will be plenty of events being held nationwide, virtually, to celebrate and highlight the fantastic work of apprentices in all fields.

    At Kaplan, we have several exciting (and free!) events coming up we thought we’d share with you. We certainly think there is something for everyone. Here are some highlights.

    Kaplan Webinar - “The Kaplan Apprenticeship Advisory Panel - Build the Future”

    Through this free webinar, on February 10th at 11,45am, you can hear from our very own Kaplan apprentices. They’ll be discussing: what practical steps they’ve taken to build their future through their apprenticeship, what skills have helped them succeed in the world of work, and what they’ve been able to achieve as the “voice of apprentices”.

    Excitingly, we will also have the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister - Gillian Keegan - joining us. She will offer her views on how apprenticeships are building the future in the financial services, accountancy and tax sectors.

    This should be a great event for all current apprentices, those considering starting an apprenticeship, and employers wanting to understand the benefits of an apprenticeship in 2021.

    Register for free for the Build the Future webinar

    Partner Event - “CIMA Virtual Apprenticeship Conference - NAW2021”

    Our partners over at CIMA are also hosting an event during NAW on the 10th, during what will be a busy day! Their virtual conference will celebrate apprenticeships with numerous guest speakers lined up throughout the day.

    During the event, you’ll hear success stories from current CIMA Apprentices and employer partners about the impact apprentices have had to their businesses. Kaplan’s own Apprenticeship Partnerships Director, Jenny Pelling and Apprenticeship Development Director Jason Moss will be discussing how apprenticeships are changing, and can be used to address the digital skills gap in 2021.

    Register for free for the CIMA Virtual Apprenticeship Conference

    Online Careers Fair - “Leeds Apprenticeship Festival 2021”

    Usually held as an annual live event, this year’s festival will be entirely online. This means you can speak to employers and training providers (including Kaplan) all from the comfort of your own home.

    Running from the 8th-12th February, the festival will have a variety of activities, from presentation videos (delivered by employers and training providers) to live Q&A sessions directly with employers.

    Kaplan will be present, and you’ll be able to speak to our expert recruitment team on Thursday 11th February. A must-attend for anyone in the wider Leeds area considering an apprenticeship.

    Register for free for the Leeds Apprenticeship Festival 2021

    For everything else apprenticeships, check out our apprenticeships website pages. Keep an eye on our social media channels during NAW and get in touch to share how you are helping to build the future through your apprenticeship.

  • How KAAP is benefitting our apprentices

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 28, 2021

    In December 2020 we held our latest Kaplan Apprenticeship Advisory Panel, which is an open forum that explores ways to refine and improve our apprenticeship programmes.

    The panel is made up of apprentices and senior apprenticeship staff members at Kaplan, and the discussion is honest, open and informal. December’s meeting was held online and was clearly structured to enable us to cover a lot of ground.

    Here’s a breakdown of each section.

    Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) update

    Our Quality and Equality Manager, Sarah Powell, revealed what Kaplan is doing for EDI. She detailed the feedback taken onboard after the last KAAP meeting and actions taken in response.

    Here are some of the actions mentioned:

    We plan to promote EDI through…

    • Being more transparent with data and what we are doing to improve
    • Increasing our presence at EDI events (i.e. BAME apprenticeship awards)
    • Having an EDI social calendar
    • Speaking to clients about what is important to them in relation to this.
    • Gaining more insight from our students.

    Website improvements workshop

    Following this we had an interactive session with our website team. Using the latest in online collaborative tech our web team conducted a live feedback exercise to get a stronger insight into the apprentices’ user journey on our site.

    For context, the team created a story of a fictional apprentice ‘Claire’, and how she decided to embark on her apprenticeship. It explored: where she might look for information, how she was feeling throughout the application, how she was feeling during her apprenticeship.

    The aim of this session was to ensure that our site can become more intuitive at every stage of our learners’ development with Kaplan. This is an ongoing project and we should see the fruits of this labour very soon.

    End Point Assessments feedback

    At the end of the session Apprenticeships Partnerships Director, Jenny Pelling, facilitated questions and feedback directly from a few of our current apprentices. This mainly centred around EPAs.

    Jenny invited feedback by posing the question ‘What would you like to see throughout your EPA journey?’.

    The apprentices discussed areas they felt they could use more support around, in relation to their EPAs, such as portfolios.

    Although they appreciated that they received much information about the EPAs, in the early stages of their programmes, they felt they didn’t absorb all of it at the time as their focus was elsewhere.

    Then there was a discussion around possible solutions, such as more support in the form of phonecall at a relevant time to help them feel better prepared, and improving the timing of feedback so that they have enough time to action it.

    National Apprenticeship week 2021

    Finally, and to wrap up, the panel acknowledged the forthcoming NAW in February 2021. We offered up potential ideas around what we could do to make the next KAAP relevant to it.

    Some thoughts were suggested around hosting a webinar with polls and questions, a Q&A panel, and ensuring it would be relevant to school and college leavers considering an apprenticeship. Following this we have decided to host an event during National Apprenticeship Week.

    Register for Kaplan Introduces: Kaplan Apprenticeship Advisory Panel - Build the Future

    If you are passionate about Apprenticeships and how they can make a difference in the professions, visit our advisory panel web page for more information. 

  • Recruit an apprentice and get £3,000, or more, for your business

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 20, 2021

    You already know that apprentices free up valuable time, bring fresh ideas, and add value to any business, whilst learning professional and technical skills in the workplace.

    But did you know about the government incentive offering your business £3,000 to £5,000*, to spend on anything you wish?

    You still have time to take advantage of the scheme, which includes:

    • A £3,000 payment for each apprentice you recruit of any age
    • An additional £1,000 payment for apprentices you recruit aged 16-18 years old
    • An additional £1,000 payment for apprentices you recruit aged under 25 with an education, health and care plan or who has been in the care of their local authority
    • No limits on your business size
    • No limits to the number of incentives you can claim

    You can even use our free, expert recruitment service to discover new apprentices, with no cost to you if you choose us as your training provider**. We screen the best talent and match them to your business needs, as well as:

    • Advertising your roles
    • Searching our existing database of over 900 active candidates
    • Proactively searching for new candidates

    Our accountancy, tax, banking, and finance apprenticeship programmes are completely flexible and can be started anytime. And our data and IT programmes have multiple cohorts throughout the year.

    All you need to do is make sure your apprentice starts employment before 30th September 2021, and has an apprenticeship start date before 30th November 2021.

    Get in touch with our team and start your recruitment process now.

    * £3000 per apprentice, based on government incentive. Plus additional incentive of £1000 for hiring a 16-18 year old apprentice or apprentice under 25 year old with an education, health and care plan or who has been in the care of their local authority
    ** charges may apply if the apprentice does not study with Kaplan or uses an alternative provider

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