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  • Sponsoring the 2020 BAME Apprenticeship Awards

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 18, 2020

    The BAME Apprenticeship Awards showcase the outstanding work and achievement of apprentices from black and minority ethnic groups (BAME), and inspires BAME apprentices to reach their full potential.

    We have a large number of apprentices from BAME groups, and we’re so proud of all the work that they do. So we’re delighted to be sponsoring this year’s awards in recognition of our amazing apprentices.

    If you have an apprentice, or work for a learning provider that excels in diversity, there is still time to get your nominations in. Nominations close on 26th June.

    Nominate your apprentice(s)

    Do your apprentices go above and beyond? Are they future leaders? Are they ambassadors for apprenticeships? You can take this opportunity to provide your rising stars with a platform to promote their great work.

    Nominate an apprentice

    Learning providers

    Are you a learning provider focused on promoting diversity and inclusion? Do you believe in social mobility? What are you doing to promote apprenticeships to diverse communities? Let the BAME Apprenticeship Awards know about the great work you’re doing.

    Nominate a learning provider

    Best of luck to all the nominees. We’re looking forward to discovering the winners in November.

  • For school leavers, considering an AAT apprenticeship

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 11, 2020

    During this uncertain period, while awaiting your final GCSE/A-Level results, you may find yourself weighing up your options.

    An Apprenticeship can be a great learning opportunity for those who prefer to work in a more hands-on environment. It allows you to gain a professional qualification while putting those skills into practice.

    You would go straight into a supportive and professional working environment, whilst studying and being a part of the Kaplan student community. This should enable you to hit the ground running, gain real confidence, and earn whilst you learn.

    The Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) is an ideal qualification to consider, if you have recently left school and are interested in a career in accountancy and finance.

    The AAT is designed for entry-level candidates to learn the principles of Accountancy in a digestible manner. You would learn in bite-sized units and complete computer based exams. Alongside gaining your AAT technical qualification you’d gain key Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours that build a foundation for your new career in accountancy.

    The AAT qualification consists of three levels:

    • Foundation
    • Advanced
    • Professional

    Apprentices can start the qualification at the Foundation Level or The Advanced Level.

    Each level concludes with a Synoptic Assessment, similar to an end of year or final exam. It is ideally sat after you have completed all of the learning units within that level.

    The Synoptic Assessments are important and can include some learning from previous units or levels, ensuring you are carrying forward your learning and not forgetting it as soon as you pass! They will also test you in other key areas such as Professional Ethics.

    Foundation Certificate in Accounting (AAT Level 2)

    The AAT Foundation Level takes apprentices through basic Accounting Principles & Processes.

    You would typically start with:

    • Bookkeeping Transactions and Bookkeeping Controls

      Here you would learn to understand basic financial transactions within bookkeeping systems, gain knowledge of dealing with supplier, business and customer accounts and how to deal with payment methods appropriately.

      You’d acquire the knowledge needed from your course at Kaplan, but this should be complemented with what you do within your day to day role and the support you have with colleagues.

    You will then go on to study (in no particular order):

    • Understanding Accounting Software (UACS)

      This unit is particularly useful to complete as it teaches you how to use an Accounting System (Xero) - which you may have never seen before. It guides you through how to use this correctly, which is fundamental for working accurately in Accountancy.

      You would also learn the process of sales and purchase transactions, bank and cash transactions, and how to perform period end routine tasks.

    • Elements of Costing (ELCO)

      This unit will teach you to understand the cost recording system within an organisation, recording techniques and how to provide information on actual and budgeted costs.

    • FYSA

      The synoptic assessment at this level includes understanding and developing personal skills to work effectively in a business environment. It also includes corporate social responsibility, ethics, and sustainability. This would all be supported by your employer within your apprenticeship and throughout your ‘Knowledge, Skills and Behaviours’.

    Advanced Diploma in Accounting (AAT Level 3)

    Apprentices can start at the Advanced Level of the AAT. The Advanced Diploma builds on the knowledge gained in a Foundation Certificate. This is generally recommended to those who have studied Accountancy before, or have worked in the field.

    If you’ve completed A-Levels in relevant areas such as Economics, Maths or Business and have achieved strong grades starting with Level 3, you maybe suitable. However some prior learning on essential Level 2 units must be completed, and the job role would have to fit the requirements of the Level 3 Standard.

    The Advanced Level course breakdown is as follows:

    • Advanced Bookkeeping (Building on BTRN and BKCL exams sat at Level 2)
    • Final Accounts Preparation
    • Management Accounts: Costing (Building on UACs exam sat at Level 2)
    • Indirect Tax
    • Synoptic Assessment
    • End-Point Assessment

    End Point Assessment

    All Apprenticeship Standards now include an End-Point Assessment (EPA), which is taken at the end of your apprenticeship. The EPA is independently assessed, meaning an independent End-Point Assessment Organisation will award you your final grade and not your employer or training provider.

    Whilst this can be daunting, it’s a fantastic opportunity for you to be recognised for your achievements within the role.

    Throughout your apprenticeship programme you will develop a Portfolio and prepare for a Professional Discussion which will assess your understanding of key ‘Knowledge , Skills and Behaviours’. You will have developed these throughout your programme, from the Apprenticeship Standard.

    We are here to help

    If you are nearing the end of your studies and wish to discuss the AAT Foundation Certificate or your options further, please fill in our online form and a member of the recruitment team will be in touch to discuss your prospects. Further information can be obtained on our Apprenticeship Standard page.

    This article was written by Olivia Buckley, Recruitment Coordinator at Kaplan.

  • Apprenticeships - your furlough questions, answered

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 09, 2020

    It’s a difficult time for everyone, and many businesses are looking for guidance on what their apprentices can be doing whilst furloughed.

    Furlough for Apprentices

    It’s important to point out that Apprentices can still study for their apprenticeship even whilst furloughed, as long as they’re not actually doing work for their employer. For more information please visit the site.

    A furloughed employee can take part in volunteer work or training, as long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation.

    The Government amended its guidance note on 4 April, to state that apprentices must be paid their appropriate wage. This should be at least the apprenticeship minimum wage, national living wage or national minimum wage, for time spent doing training whilst furloughed.

    But not whilst not training!

    This means there could be two rates of pay for some apprentices who are on the apprenticeship minimum wage.

    Here are our answers to the common questions and concerns relating to furloughed apprentices:

    What can my apprentice do whilst ‘furloughed’?

    Furlough is a perfect opportunity for apprentices to keep learning and get ahead.

    Even if their exams may have been postponed, they can still study towards their qualification. They can focus on: skills and behaviours, any functional skills work required, their training log, or even EPA prep.

    If they were slightly behind in their 20% Off the Job Time, it’s also an opportune moment for them to catch up and make a significant difference to their Apprenticeship. In fact, they can get well ahead with their studying, which means that when they return to work, there isn’t as much off the job time immediately required.

    In a sense, the Apprenticeship can provide structure and purpose in this difficult time, when the apprentice may feel that the normal order to their lives has undergone a radical upheaval.

    My apprentice has children at home and is finding it hard to study

    We fully empathise with those who are currently having to look after children whilst studying and/or working. Luckily we have options to help make things more manageable.

    Our online study resources are geared towards bite sized learning and are accessible wherever the learner may be. Also don’t forget we also have learning coaches on hand to help with scheduling and effective study methods.

    Through Instagram Live, we’re running some short live sessions on how best to manage studying from home as well as the power of positive psychology.

    For furloughed apprentices, we’ve created a new microsite to support them with their skills and behaviour development specifically during this Covid period. Their Talent Coaches will be able to direct them to the resources and activities, chosen with the current climate in mind.

    By just setting aside a couple of 30 minutes learning sessions during a particularly frantic week, an apprentice can keep making progress. It’s often easier to continue through a bite-sized approach, than stop altogether for a long period, require a break in learning, and then having to find the motivation to restart.

    What happens if my apprentice’s EPA is imminent?

    We are currently working closely with EPAOs (End Point Assessment Organisations) in search of greater flexibility for apprentices wherever possible.

    In the meantime, apprentices can still make preparations for interviews, discussions and projects, but they will not be able to access any work, or be considered as working.

    It’s worth considering whether the apprentice’s line manager might also be furloughed. If so, we may need someone else to be nominated by you as the employer to be involved in the Gateway Review or interview.

    What if my apprentice can’t sit an exam?

    Even though examination sittings have been seriously affected, we can still develop a study plan to ensure exam readiness for the future. Most awarding bodies have now provided new dates for exams, or remote proctoring.

    This may shift the completion date of the apprenticeship back in some cases. It’s very much something we encourage our apprentices to talk with their Talent Coach about.

    The apprentice can also focus on other essential elements of their apprenticeship, such as skills and behaviours, functional skills, reflective practice. There’s more than enough to keep them focussed.

    My apprentice’s workload has increased. How can we facilitate 20% off the job training through busy times?

    Your apprentice’s Talent Coach can review and amend the learning plan to reflect the new workload. We can be flexible to help the apprentice stay on track.

    20% Off the Job Time doesn’t have to be every week. It’s calculated over the whole duration of the ‘on programme’ learning period. As long as they can do some studying or Skills and Behaviour development work over the next four weeks, we can keep them progressing.

    My apprentice is overwhelmed and needs a break

    The last thing we want to do is put any pressure on your apprentice in these challenging times. Our Talent Coaches can provide support to reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.

    We can also allow up to 4 weeks with minimal learning to provide breathing space. If and when they feel ready to resume, we can help to plan weekly learning in very short sessions to keep them on track at a comfortable level.

    If that really isn’t feasible however, and they absolutely cannot study for more than 4 weeks, they would need to go on a ‘Break in Learning’.

    With a ‘Break in Learning’ we recommend they last 4 weeks at a time, and then are reviewed. Importantly, you should only press ‘ pause’ on your Apprenticeship Service account, rather than stop. As, in the government’s own words

    The employer should not ‘stop’ the apprenticeship through the apprenticeship service as this will prevent it resuming subsequently.

    What support is there for apprentices that are furloughed?

    At Kaplan, we have a range of support options for your apprentice:

    • Continued contact from Talent Coach
    • Tutor support
    • Learning Support
    • Increased on-line learning: bite sized and engaging
    • Instagram live Q & A sessions on studying better; positive psychology and mindfulness
    • Mental health and wellbeing guidance.

    An opportunity to keep going

    There’s still much to achieve for your apprentices during these unprecedented times. They can keep mentally fit, intellectually honed and can continue to acquire new skills for the future world of work.

    Whilst furloughed, your apprentices are like sporting substitutes: trained and ready to re-engage when the time comes.

    For more apprenticeship guidance please visit our Coronavirus advice page.

    Article as at 8 April 2020

    NB The Government has made several amendments to its guidance documents since March 23rd. At the time of writing, the latest revisions were made on 4 April. Do check in on their website if you’re reading this after 8 April, in case it has been updated.

    - Jenny Pelling, Apprenticeship Partnerships Director at Kaplan.

  • We’re looking for the best accountants in the UK

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 10, 2020

    We’re on the hunt for talented accountants to enter the Accountancy Technician Skills Competition in 2020.

    In conjunction with WordSkills UK, we’ve launched the first official National Accounting competition designed to reflect the role of an Accountant, and the standards that are expected in the world of finance.

    The competition will take the format of a set business case study with accompanying tasks and assessments to be done in the given time period.

    Competitors will have to demonstrate the following skills throughout the regional qualifying rounds and final competition:

    • Technical competence and commercial acumen
    • Ethics and professionalism
    • Professional scepticism
    • Analytical and critical thinking
    • Teamwork and communication

    We know that we have incredibly talented apprentices and students at Kaplan, so we want them to show off what they know to the rest of the country. There will be students from many different training providers, so it’s a great opportunity to meet others and share knowledge.

    If you’re successful and make it through the National Qualifiers, taking place between April and June 2020, you will then go on to the National Finals held at WorldSkills UK LIVE.

    WorldSkills UK LIVE is the UK’s largest skills, apprenticeships and careers event which takes place 19 to 21 November at the NEC, Birmingham.

    We'll be hosting heats in our Reading centre over 23-25 June. Other heat locations may be announced before the registration deadline of 2 April.

    We hope apprentices and students alike will see this as an opportunity to display their talents to the rest of the country and compete to be recognised as the best young accounting minds in the country.

    Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership Director, Kaplan

    Entry requirements

    If you’re interested in entering the competition you need to make sure you’re aware of the following criteria:

    • This is a team competition
    • There is a maximum of 3 people per team (minimum 2 people per team)
    • There is a limit of one team, per organisation that can be entered to each National Qualifier location
    • There is no age limit for this competition
    • This competition is intended for those studying, training and/or working in the accountancy sector. As such, you must be familiar with the core competencies listed above, and meet at least one of the following criteria: undertaking a Level 4 apprenticeship or higher; equivalent qualification (e.g. HND in Accounting); or have completed one these within the past 18 months.

    We’re really excited to see what our students can do, and we encourage everyone to take part. It’s a great way to find out just how much you’ve learnt, and show people the skills it takes to be an accountant.

    If you’d like to take part you’ll need to register on the WordSkills UK website. Registration closes on 2 April 2020. Good luck!

  • Figuring out Accountancy Apprenticeships

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 03, 2020

    If university doesn’t appeal, or you fancy a career change, then an apprenticeship could be the right path for you.

    You may think that Accountancy is focused entirely on numbers and figures, and whilst enjoying working with numbers is essential, there is much more to consider when thinking about Accountancy as a career.

    As Accountancy evolves it is becoming ultra-fast and computerised, allowing Accountants to focus on the overall Management of Finances.

    Accountants are great communicators often acting as the go-between for different groups of people/business and Authorities. They are critical in securing business deals and ensuring staff and suppliers are paid on time. Accountants are vital for any business.

    Accountancy could be a good career choice if you:

    • Are passionate about working with people and communication
    • Have a good eye for detail
    • Enjoy working with numbers
    • Consider yourself to be 'analytical' or 'strategic'
    • Enjoy working in a methodical and organised manner.

    Apprenticeship benefits

    There are clear benefits of considering an Apprenticeship if you choose to pursue Accountancy.

    Benefits such as:

    • Avoiding student debt and earning whilst you learn (on average saving £27,500)
    • Gaining practical work experience on the job
    • Working with an affiliated membership such as ACCA/ICAEW/CIMA/AAT from the beginning of your career
    • Being part of an institution from the beginning of your apprenticeship and beyond, encouraging Continuous Professional Development and Support
    • Growing good networking links, and developing a professional portfolio.
    • Support from Kaplan Talent Coaches and Tutors throughout your course

    Entry levels

    There are different entry levels for students, if you are a School Leaver and have just completed your GCSEs or A-Levels, we would potentially look at an Assistant Accountant Level 3 apprenticeship with a pathway in AAT. This is the very beginning of your accounting career, with a range of progression routes available.

    If you are part way through a degree or have completed a degree we could look at higher level Apprenticeships such as an Accounting and Taxation Professional Level 7 with professional pathways in ACCA/ICAEW/CIMA. These need a little more experience and knowledge to start with.

    Kaplan can help

    Kaplan offers a recruitment service to help people go into accountancy apprenticeships, working with reputable employers around the country. We pride ourselves on working with employers who provide a great working environment and are dedicated to fair pay and progression for their apprentices.

    For a full list of Kaplan Apprenticeships with industry-leading employers visit our jobs board. We can help you prepare for applications by supporting you to build your CV, tailoring it for accountancy Apprenticeships and help with interview preparation and guidance.

    Regardless of sector and industry, all apprenticeship vacancies are advertised on Get My First Job and The National Apprenticeship Service, this includes vacancies in other roles in areas such as Insurance, Risk and Compliance or Financial Services.

    Top Tips

    Finally, our three top tips for starting your career in Accountancy through an apprenticeship would be:

    1. Be proactive with your apprenticeship search, if you are still studying and sitting exams in the summer start your apprenticeship search around May alongside your revision.
    2. Ensure your CV is tailored towards Accountancy and your desire to pursue this area is clear
    3. Seek work experience in an office or a financial environment so you can get a feel for the type of environment you will be working in.

    For more information on anything mentioned here you can register your interest with our recruitment team.

  • Words of wisdom from world number 1

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 04, 2020

    Kaplan Apprentice, Marc Dolan, came 1st in the world in the May 2019 CIMA Management Case Study exam, and we wanted to find out a little bit more about the man behind the achievement.

    Marc was born and raised in Manchester, but now lives with his daughter in Bingley, near Bradford, and works at Provident Financial.

    We asked him a few questions about his journey, his motivations, and what he found hard about studying CIMA.

    Why are you studying to be an accountant?

    Because it is such a solid career path. Accountancy roles can be very varied and the qualification can lead you down a number of different routes. It also gives me a chance to work in a business and actually make a difference to the overall running of the company, as well as being involved in a varied and interesting day to day work life.

    How did you find the exams?

    The exams in general are difficult and require a huge amount of work to pass. More specifically the case study exam in question. I got lucky in a way as the company in the case study was a cruise company. I’m really into travel and have been on a few cruises. So I found it helped answering questions on an industry that I have a genuine interest in.

    For the case study exam itself, I had no idea I’d done so well. I was surprised to hear the news that I came joint 1st in the world! I felt I’d answered some questions really well in the exam, but there were a couple of areas I actually thought I could have done better on. So straight after the exam I was more frustrated about that.

    Another difficult aspect of the exam was the time pressure. Despite it being 3 hours long, the time management was crucial.

    To keep myself going, I usually make sure that I’ve got something to look forward to directly after the exam.

    What’s your study method and how did you keep yourself going?

    My study method for the case study was to make sure I had a good mix of questions to practice and making sure I knew the technical content. This made me able to tackle any question that came up. I went through all my old notes and basically summarised them in a notepad, to include all the key technical areas across all topics covered. I found it helped to have all of the information for the different modules in one place.

    In terms of timing, I try and do most of my studying before work, so it meant lots of very early starts.

    To keep myself going, I usually make sure that I’ve got something to look forward to directly after the exam. It motivates me, knowing that I’d need to put in a lot of work until that point, but then having something nice to look forward to. It’s a light at the end of the tunnel! For the case study I had a holiday to Bulgaria with my daughter, soon after the exam.

    Do you have any hobbies that kept you sane during your studying? What do you do to unwind?

    I find that studying and work takes up a lot of time so there isn’t too much time for hobbies. However I like to keep active and find the gym helps me unwind after a day working and studying. I tend to try and get there 4/5 times a week. Also, I go on trips and days out with my daughter.

    What advice would you give to someone starting out?

    The best bit of advice I could give for a new starter would be to book your exams in the early stages of your studies. It gives you a target to work towards, enabling you to push yourself more.

    In the earlier days of studying, I would usually cover the content first and then book the exam. This method meant I took a lot more time to get through them.

    I also find it helps to get yourself into a routine, so you know when you are studying and can get a rhythm going.

    Finally for any CIMA exam, I feel question practice is crucial. The more question practice you get, the better.

    How do you find studying with Kaplan?

    I’ve found college sessions at Kaplan very helpful. When I started studying CIMA I used self study for the first 8 exams, and found this method much harder as it took me longer to get through the exams.

    The sessions in college were very useful as it gave me a full day to focus on the content. I had 2 tutors for the case study and the sessions with both definitely helped. The tutors worked through a lot of possible questions and model answers and basically taught the technique to answer the questions successfully.

    The tutors also help keep you motivated by setting you deadlines to complete mock exams and questions.

    Do you find mixing work and study challenging?

    I find mixing work and study very challenging, mainly because it takes up so much time. It has meant a lot of early mornings and late nights, to try and fit the study in around work.

    I do get day release for college sessions though, which is a huge help. In addition to juggling work and study. I also have single parenting duties to balance, so all of this makes me even prouder to have achieved first place!

    We’re incredibly proud of Marc’s achievement as an apprentice and for his amazing exam results.

    If Marc’s story has inspired you, have a look at our apprenticeships and CIMA pages for more information.

  • Guide to the new apprenticeship funding system

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 23, 2020

    Following government changes to the way smaller employers can organise and pay for Apprenticeships, we thought we’d share the most up to date information.

    So here are a series of Youtube “How to” videos, directly uploaded by the ESFA. This offers further insight into the changes that have been made, so you can adapt quickly.

    How to...create an account and accept the employer agreement on the apprenticeship service

    How to...reserve funding, add an apprentice, and use the recruitment tool

    Transition arrangements for smaller employers joining the apprenticeship service.

    For any further information or support on the changes to Apprenticeships, please visit our Employers page.

  • 20% off-the-job training: our top ten tips for 2020

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 21, 2020

    2020 marks the three year anniversary of compulsory off-the-job learning time for apprentices.

    Over the years, the rules* concerning off-the-job time have evolved, but some confusion about the 20% off-the-job training time remains.

    The off-the-job time is designed to set apprentices up for success. So here are our top ten tips for employers to help steer you in the right direction for 2020.

    1. What counts as off-the-job?

      The term off-the-job may appear ambiguous, as it suggests apprentices physically need to be away from their work premises for it to apply. This isn't the case and training can happen in the workplace. To see if the activity in question can count as off-the-job time for your apprentice, make sure you can answer yes to these three questions:

      1. Is the activity directly relevant to the Apprenticeship standard?
      2. Is the activity imparting new knowledge, skills or behaviours?
      3. Is the learning being completed in the apprentice's normal working hours?

      Questions a) and b) are non-negotiable: the answer has to be yes. There are exceptions to c). Sometimes there may be an evening activity, such as a relevant networking event or skills development session, at which new learning would be acquired and which is directly relevant to the standard. If that's the case, then it's fine to count the time as off the job even though it's not within ‘normal working hours' as long as compensation is given (such as time off in lieu).

    2. Off-the-job time needs to be quantified at the start

      The key Apprenticeship documents state:

      1. The quantity of off-the-job time being delivered (which is included in the Apprenticeship agreement). We will calculate this dependent on the working hours of the apprentice - whether they are full-time or part-time, and the duration of the Apprenticeship training period.
      2. The planned off-the-job training (which is included in the commitment statement).

    3. Be realistic about the amount of off-the-job time from the outset

      It's important to stress that the 20% figure is the bare minimum. It's there to help learners be successful in their Apprenticeship. If 20% off-the-job time isn't given, then it isn't a valid Apprenticeship.

      If employers can't commit to providing 20% off-the-job time, then they should enrol learners with us on Kaplan courses not funded by the levy or government contributions, rather than Kaplan Apprenticeships.

      The 20% off-the-job time is so important to Apprenticeship regulations that if an employer isn't providing the time, then the Apprenticeship would have to be stopped.

    4. Off-the-job time isn't given for the entire duration of the Apprenticeship

      With Apprenticeship standards, an employer has to give the apprentice at least 20% off-the-job time from the first day in learning, to the final day of the training period.

      The final day of the training period is counted as the point at which the apprentice goes through ‘gateway' and enters the end point assessment phase. So, it's not the entire Apprenticeship duration.

      As an example, if a learner started an Apprenticeship standard in January 2020 and was due to get to the ‘gateway' end point assessment period in August 2021 and complete the full Apprenticeship in December 2021, off-the-job time would be given from January 2020 to August 2021. Not from January 2020 to December 2021.

    5. Off-the-job time isn't given during statutory holiday

      When we're calculating the number of off-the-job hours required, we remove 28 days per year. This is the maximum amount of holiday (including bank holidays) which is allowed to be taken into account. Even if you as an employer give more than that, we can only remove 28 days from the calculation.

    6. 20% doesn't have to mean one day per week

      Many employers assume that 20% means one day per week and needs to be spent training. A clean-cut way is indeed to provide one day a week as study leave, but it doesn't have to be that prescriptive.

      In our experience, it's helpful for apprentices to have some time which is ring-fenced as study time, e.g. half a day as study time, which is then supplemented with time for revision, additional learning, relevant work-shadowing, etc.

    7. Make inductions count

      The rules don't allow for inductions to be included in the off-the-job time calculation if they just involve showing somebody where various facilities are or introductions to the team.

      However, if your induction includes actual training and skills development which are directly relevant to the standard, then this can be included. This is as long as the induction is taking place once the Apprenticeship paperwork with Kaplan is complete and falls after the first Apprenticeship date in learning.

      We know many employers have very comprehensive inductions into new roles, sometimes including up to 2 weeks of technical training. Get in touch with us whilst you're thinking about what induction training can count, before launching an Apprenticeship programme, so we can help you.

    8. Be careful though as not all training counts

      A training programme which forms part of the Apprenticeship is clearly going to count towards the off-the-job calculation. Relevant and new employer training can also count, as can relevant work-shadowing, networking and skills shows.

      However, not all learning does count, so watch out for these:

      • If a learner needs to achieve Maths and English ‘functional skills' for example as they don't have GCSE certificates in those subjects, then any learning towards achieving Maths and English must be in addition and can not count towards the 20% off the job time.
      • Travel time to a teaching session doesn't count.
      • Exams don't count towards off-the-job time.

      • Writing assignments and time spent during the training period on revision does count, even though it is rehearsing already learnt material.

      And remember, the learning has to be directly relevant to the standard.

      If you feel confused by this, don't worry, as we will guide you through this as your training provider.

    9. Embrace flexibility of delivery methods

      The 20% has to be achieved in work time. So if you only allow your students to study in the evenings and weekends, and don't give any compensation such as time off in lieu, then this won't be compliant.

      However, if adopting a day release model doesn't work for your business, you can still make the most of the flexibility Kaplan can offer in terms of delivery. So for instance, if you offered time off in lieu, you could still use courses which are held in the evening.

    10. Encourage your apprentices to keep records of their learning

      For apprentices who started from 1 August 2019, we have to record the volume of planned off-the-job training hours from the outset on an Apprenticeship document which we submit for audit, called the Individualised Learner Record.

      From 1 August 2020, we will also have to stipulate the actual number of off-the-job hours delivered. We ask all apprentices to complete a training log. This is where their Talent Coaches will review with your learners what training they've received to make sure the minimum of 20% is being adhered to and recorded.

    We hope this guide helps make sense of the 20% off-the-job training requirement and makes it feel more achievable. We've worked in partnership with many clients, on the design of Apprenticeship programmes, and are full of admiration for how you approach learning in your organisation.

    We're here to make sure you are comfortable with how off-the-job training time will work for you and your apprentices. Please contact your Kaplan account manager if you wish to discuss anything further.

    *Apprenticeship rules can change. This article is correct as at 1 January 2020 but may be subject to change. Please check the full government document launch for the latest guidance.

  • Changes to the Apprenticeship funding system, in England

    by Kieron McDonnell | Dec 17, 2019

    The Government has announced that from the 1st January 2020 there will be changes to the way smaller employers can organise and pay for Apprenticeships.

    Employers with a pay bill of less than £3m per year will now be able to use the online Apprenticeship Service launch (sometimes called the ‘DAS’ or ‘TAS’ system) to organise and pay for their Apprenticeships.

    This system gives employers access to a whole range of Digital services and will allow all employers to:

    • Select a training provider (such as Kaplan)
    • Advertise an Apprenticeship vacancy
    • Reserve funding for Apprenticeship training (up to 95% of the costs)

    You’ll need to set up an account on the online Apprenticeship Service and to do this will need to have a Government gateway ID launch or an Accounts Office ID.

    These are special passwords that HMRC issues when you register your business for online services.

    If you’d like support in setting up your account, or would like any further info, please call the National Apprenticeship Service helpline 08000 150 600 or speak to your Kaplan contact.

  • You voted for us as a Top Apprentice Trainer - thank you!

    by Kieron McDonnell | Aug 06, 2019

    Thanks to our current apprentices, we are now one of RateMyApprenticeship's Top 50 UK Training Providers for 2019-2020. We came in 4th place and we’re so grateful to everyone who voted for us.

    Votes came from current apprentices who reviewed over 300 training providers. We were the highest rated accountancy firm on the list, and placed higher than big brands and educational companies, including Siemens, Manchester Metropolitan University, and the Open University.

    Did you know?

    We train over 5,000 apprentices every year, and 75 of the FTSE 100 companies use us for training. We have a team of over 200 qualified and expert tutors to deliver top rated courses around the country.

    The award ceremony was held in July and celebrated the achievements of apprentices, employers, schools, colleges, and apprentice training providers. There were over 350 guests on the night and it was a dynamic and fun event.

    The audience was treated to an afternoon of inspiring speakers including: Tim Campbell (MBE and winner of the BBC’s The Apprentice), and Jamala Osman (winner of Britain and Ireland’s 2018 Young Citizen Award and TEDx Speaker). There was also a panel discussion with business leaders from across the industry.

    The Top 50 table is now live on the RateMyApprenticeship Awards launch site.

    Thank you once again to everyone who voted for us - it’s fantastic to know that we’re providing the training you need.

  • Transferring your Apprenticeship Levy to other employers

    by User Not Found | Jul 12, 2019

    This March we hosted a webinar on the Levy transfer, explaining what is, how it affects you, and how you can implement it.

    Register to listen to the live recording. 

    In April 2018, the Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA)  introduced enhancements to the Digital Apprenticeship Account System. This means that Levy paying employers are now able to transfer some of their levy pot to other employers (to be spent on Apprenticeship standard training in England).

    There is a large amount of money sitting in unspent levy accounts, so businesses are able to move money from the under spent Levy world to the under resourced non-levy world.

    The webinar covers:

    • What the scheme is and what it allows
    • How it works in practice including concerns over administration
    • The benefits for donors and recipients
    • How Kaplan can help.
  • End Point Assessments - the new way to quality assure Apprenticeships

    by Kieron McDonnell | Jul 12, 2019

    Meet Emily and Billie, two successful apprentices at York based Accountants - Garbutt and Elliott.

    With the help of the new End Point Assessments, we see how their AAT level Apprenticeships are driving them to career success.

    The EPAs are a new addition to Finance Apprenticeships. They encourage the apprentice to reflect on their learnings and identify the new skills they've acquired, since starting their course.

    It's been really great for me because it gives a structure to my work

    - Billie Godley

    As the new Accountancy Apprenticeship standards enter their third year of operation, more students and employers are preparing to take, or have taken, an End Point Assessment.

  • AAT Apprentice - combining work and study

    by Kieron McDonnell | Jun 06, 2019

    Meet Abby Lacey. She’s 42, and an Office Manager for Thames Valley Berkshire LEP Ltd.  A recent AAT Apprentice with Kaplan, she’s now looking to progress to Level 7.

    In a previous life, she was a self-employed virtual PA who did some bookkeeping. She had ambitions to qualify, but time and finances wouldn’t allow it.

    Here is her story...


    How did you get onto the Apprenticeship?

    My CEO suggested I look into different qualifications. I thought an Apprenticeship would be great not only for me, but for our company. We are a small operation, with only ten staff, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have an apprentice!

    Will you continue to progress through other levels?

    I’d like to progress to Level 7 in the long term, but time and finances are always an issue!

    What is your long term goal?

    I’m happy in my current role but hope, in the medium term, to expand my financial responsibilities. In the long term I’d like to work for myself, and this qualification will really help.

    What support did you receive from Kaplan? Can you see the benefit of training with a provider vs doing it on your own?

    I have an excellent Talent Coach and am studying in the classroom. Kaplan has been brilliant for me and I wouldn’t change it! From the student services department, to my tutor and the admin staff at Reading, everyone has been really helpful.

    What’s been the hardest part about your AAT and how did you deal with that?

    Not passing AVBK the first time round.

    Having been out of study for many years, and being a perfectionist, it was difficult to admit  defeat, but thankfully I have a great boss and a supportive network of colleagues, friends and family. They boosted me, and luckily I passed the next time round.

    Have you managed a good work-life balance throughout your studies?

    It’s fairly tricky, but I’m able to have one day a week away from work. I also have a very understanding husband and son who leave me to it.

    You do have to be disciplined and stick to your plan.

    Do you have any advice for people looking to work in the accountancy industry?

    An Apprenticeship is a really good way of combining work and study, if it’s available to you.

    Accountancy is a great industry as it’s so varied. You can be working as a sole trading bookkeeper or working in large corporate departments – there’s something for everyone.
  • Apprenticeships - Is this the right career choice for you?

    by Kieron McDonnell | May 08, 2019

    Which career path will you take?

    After finishing school or college, the options and career routes now available can seem overwhelming. But it’s important you consider them all before choosing your next move.

    Many employers are now offering attractive Apprenticeship schemes. These cover a range of professional sectors (including Accountancy, Law, Banking and Engineering).

    Attitudes towards Apprenticeships have changed, and they’re now recognised as a great way to start or enhance your career.

    Here, we compare the options to help with your decision.

    Apprenticeship or university infographic

    Consider what’s right for you

    Make a list of what’s important to you and then speak to as many people as you can who have either been to University or chosen an Apprenticeship to find out about their experiences. Compare what they’ve told you with what you are looking for.

    Deciding what to do won’t be easy, but remember there isn’t a ‘wrong path’. If at any point you feel that you have made the wrong choice, you can easily switch to either a University degree or an Apprenticeship in the next academic year.

    The world of work is more flexible than it’s ever been and future employers will respect you for having the confidence to change path. Make sure you take time to decide which option is best for you.

    Next steps?

    If you would like more information about the Apprenticeship programmes offered at Kaplan, please email our team

  • PQ awards winner – an Apprenticeship role model

    by Kieron McDonnell | May 02, 2019

    Zane Salmon, one of our AAT Apprentices, was victorious at the 2019 PQ Awards - named Apprentice of the Year.

    The national awards celebrate Accountancy success – across all areas of the profession: from the tutors, to training providers, to the learners themselves.

    Zane is an exceptionally hardworking apprentice and his record speaks for itself: achieving an average of 97% when studying Level 2 AAT with Kaplan.

    His upwards trajectory continued. With Level 3 AAT, after completing two units, he scored  94% and 83% respectively. He’s now on-course for a Distinction with his Level 3 AAT Qualification.

    Today he works towards his Apprenticeship as an employee of Grant Thornton, in their Audit Department. Never one to rest on his laurels, he’s made an immediate impact at the large corporate.


    Zane’s academic journey is exemplary, but it’s his personal story that must have caught the judges’ attention. Zane’s route to success came from a collaboration between Kaplan and LTSB (Leadership Through Sport & Business).

    LTSB are a national social mobility charity that supports bright young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into to meaningful work in major firms.

    Through intensive training and partnerships, with blue-chip companies and elite football foundations, their transformative Accountancy Apprenticeship programme develops young people personally and professionally. It better prepares them for the business world.

    We address all forms of disadvantage: personal, in terms of adverse life-events; socio-economic, in terms of class boundaries or lack of social capital; and practical, in terms of the preparation young people have had for the working world

    - David Pinchin

    Up to this point in his young career, Zane hadn’t had it easy. Previously overlooked for opportunities within the sector, he was concerned it was due to his mild ADHD and dyslexia. Zane had also recently left home, and was tasked with living alone and having to support himself. At such an age, there was a lot resting on his shoulders.

    During this period, he assessed the options available and came across the LTSB “More Than an Apprenticeship” programme. So in September 2017 - with the intention of gaining an Accountancy and Finance Apprenticeship – he applied.

    The rest, they say, is history.

    Zane’s PQ nomination made reference to the huge first impression he made, and the impact he continues to make, at Grant Thornton. The company hope to make his role permanent after the completion of his Level 3 qualification.

    Zane’s strength of character and determination has been effectively channeled into the opportunity created by Kaplan and LTSB. It’s great to see the programme truly work for those it intends to support.

    This programme helped me develop both personally and professionally. It's changed my life.

    - Zane Salmon

    Well done Zane!

    To find out more about the Leadership Through Sport and Business programmes, visit their site.

  • Your career after AAT

    by User Not Found | Feb 06, 2019

    Completing your AAT Level 4 Apprenticeship is a great milestone in your career.

    You can now use MAAT1 after your name, and are in a position to progress further - with the new knowledge and skills you have.

    However, have you considered furthering your studies all the way to full Chartered Accountancy status? 

    With ICAEW, ACCA or CIMA, you can study for these qualifications through a Level 7 Apprenticeship, meaning you’ll receive additional support and time for training.

    Here are some of the benefits that opting to complete a Level 7 Apprenticeship could bring you:

    • Achieve full Chartered Status and a Masters Level Qualification

      Now you have a professional designation after completing AAT, you could go one step further. You could achieve full Chartered Accountancy status.

      This equates to a Masters level qualification2 for ICAEW, ACCA or CIMA. With it, you’d be joining an internationally recognised body, which brings considerable benefits for your status and career.

    • Invest in your development

      When you study via the Level 7 Apprenticeship, together with the completion of your qualification, you’ll also develop essential skills and behaviours.

      Networking, business acumen and problem solving are some of the key-workplace competencies which are developed. They not only improve job satisfaction but ultimately increase your value in the workplace.

    • Support whilst you study

      If you study via an Apprenticeship, you’ll be given additional support to complete your qualification. Apprentices have 20% of their working time protected for training and development. Some of this could be achieved through studying for your qualification3.

    • Boost earnings potential

      A recent Accountancy Age survey4 revealed that qualified Accountants averagely earned £64,220 whereas those without a formal qualification averagely earned £45,974.

      Whilst overall earnings vary according to level, location and experience, achieving Chartered status will impact your salary.
    • Use your skills all over the world

      In addition to boosting your salary potential, Chartered Accountancy gives you the opportunity to use your qualification all over the world.

      The qualification itself, and the skills developed when completing your Apprenticeship, are extremely transferable and in high demand everywhere.

    So let the world be your oyster. Start thinking about the next level of your studies now.

    For expert advice and guidance on Level 7 Accountancy Apprenticeships, please contact Kaplan on

    1.You will still be subject to fulfilling the AAT’s requirements for membership, including achieving relevant work experience as per AAT’s Membership Criteria Policy
    2.Please note you do not receive a Masters Degree - this is an equivalent qualification
    3.It is your employer’s discretion as to how the 20% training time is used
    4.Accountancy Age Salary Survey 2018

  • The future after your Level 3 AAT Apprenticeship

    by User Not Found | Jan 24, 2019

    Achieving your Level 3 Accounts Assistant Apprenticeship is a tremendous achievement, and something you should be very proud of.

    It will have involved lots of hard work, demonstrating both technical knowledge and wider skills invaluable to employers.

    Now, you might want to break from studying and apply what you’ve learnt to the workplace.

    However, it’s worth considering the additional benefits of continuing your studies. Progressing onto the Level 4 Professional Accounting Technician Apprenticeship is an option that brings further rewards:

    • Achieve MAAT designation - Completion of the AAT Professional Diploma, as part of your Level 4 Apprenticeship, will bring you closer* to applying for full AAT membership. It’s an internationally recognised professional status in Accountancy and Finance, and gives you the opportunity to put ‘MAAT’ after your name.

      It can bring greater responsibility in terms of your career and enhance your CV, making you more marketable. 

    • Demonstrate higher-level skills and behaviours (e.g Leadership)  - The Level 4 Apprenticeship allows you to enhance the skills and behaviours you developed as part of your Level 3 Apprenticeship.

      Exposure to higher-level roles and responsibilities, which you will be provided with, will improve job satisfaction and your value within the workplace. 

    If you consider progressing to the next level, you can boost your career and earnings potential

    • Specialise in your chosen area of Accountancy - The AAT Professional Diploma enables you to choose 2 from 5 options. This gives you the chance to become an expert in your chosen field: Tax, Audit or Credit Management. 

      Combined with the more general Accounting knowledge you’ve already developed, these specialisms can significantly enhance your career prospects.

    • Boost your earnings potential - Studies show that those who have MAAT designation averagely earn £9,000 more than those who have just completed Level 3 Advanced Diploma**.

    • Gain valuable exemptions for future study - And why stop at Level 4? If you decide you want to gain Chartered Accountancy Status through the study of CIMA, ACCA or ICAEW, completing Level 4 will provide you with exemptions for up to 6*** papers for these qualifications.

      This means you can progress more quickly through these further studies.

    So don’t let the dust settle for too long on your study manuals, build on your hard work. If you consider progressing to the next level, you can boost your career and earnings potential.

    For expert advice and guidance on Level 4 Accountancy Apprenticeships, please contact Kaplan on


    *You will still be subject to fulfilling the AAT’s requirements for membership, including achieving relevant work experience as per AAT’s Membership Criteria Policy.

    **AAT/Avado Salary Survey 2017

    ***Exact exemptions depend upon the qualification chosen and options selected at Level 4 Professional Diploma

  • How to register for your ACCA Apprenticeship

    by User Not Found | Jan 03, 2019

    As an ACCA Apprentice, Our Kaplan On-boarding team would have worked with you to register you onto your programme of study, allowing you to start your apprenticeship journey.

    However, you need to ensure that you successfully register as an ACCA student to enable you to sit exams, which you'll do directly with ACCA.

    This short webinar will focus on:

    • Where to sign up as an ACCA student

    • What documentation you need to provide

    • How to pay for your ACCA registration.

    Register now, to find out how to sign up as an ACCA student.

  • 2018 Apprenticeship Briefings: key points

    by User Not Found | Dec 12, 2018

    Over the last few weeks, Kaplan has hosted some Apprenticeship Breakfast events, with over 75 guests including employers, charities, Professional Bodies and EPAOs.

    The events were designed to discuss current themes, trends and issues experienced by those operating in the sector and we certainly had a lively and interesting debate.

    Below, we highlight 5 of the key points that arose:

    • Qualifications – have we got the balance right?

    The consensus was that qualifications in Apprenticeships were generally a very good thing and helped give credibility to many standards. However, concern was raised that where they were included, they became the focus of the whole programme with learners and employers less bothered about the achievement of the Apprenticeship.

    For Apprenticeships to work they need to have equal weighting to qualifications but it will take time to get to this position.

    • Diversity  and Social Mobility – are we making progress?

    Most delegates agreed that the Levy in itself hadn’t suddenly made employers want to recruit more young people, the decision had to be reached from the very top and become part of the culture of an organisation, with the acknowledgement that some ‘heavy lifting’ may be required to reap future potential benefits.

    Effective school engagement remained a real challenge for many employers (even very large ones) but parent power was the number one barrier, especially when trying to increase applications from BAME backgrounds with parent perception that a degree was the only option.

    • Do Apprenticeships need a rebrand?

    Linked to diversity, we had a healthy debate on whether the term Apprenticeship should be rebranded to make it more appealing and less associated with traditional ‘trades’.

    Overwhelmingly most disagreed with this, arguing it would be very unhelpful in the mission to put Apprenticeships on an equal footing to University. As a sector we needed to really push this message and help change perception rather than take the easier option of just re-badging the programmes we offer.

    • The importance of the right fit…

    All new standards need to have an End Point Assessment attached. What was absolutely clear was that it was essential learners on a programme are in the right job role to enable them to demonstrate the right level of knowledge, skills and behaviours when they get to EPA stage.

    The EPA isn’t just a ‘rubber stamp’, rather it is a robust assessment of how somebody has performed in that particular job role. Early engagement with providers and EPAOs is absolutely key to ensuring the best possible chance of success.

    • Too many standards or too few?

    There are currently a wealth of different standards to choose from in the wider Financial Services, Accountancy and Leadership and Management space – a lot for any employer or learner to navigate.

    But our discussions highlighted that the range, though broad, didn’t necessarily meet every need…so jumping from Level 3 to Level 6 /7 in some pathways was possibly too big a leap. The jury remains out but with many standards up for review in 2019, this will surely be a key question to address.

    In summary

    Yes challenges and change lie ahead, and we are very used to this in this sector, but overwhelmingly the message from the sessions was one of positivity, with a genuine passion and commitment to make Apprenticeships work. 

    Our favourite comment was from an employer who stated “I would genuinely choose somebody who had completed a full standard, including EPA, over somebody who had just done a qualification.”  If this type of thinking continues, then Apprenticeships surely have a very bright future.

  • The Kaplan King: From AAT to CIMA, and fully Chartered

    by User Not Found | Nov 28, 2018

    Tom Kelly is 24 years old, a Project Accountant and has fully Chartered status.

    He started out as an AAT apprentice with Kaplan, but the last two years have seen him progress to the CIMA qualification and move on in his career.

    When you tell them you have letters after your name, it definitely opens doors. 

    The Kaplan King

    Sticking with Kaplan throughout his accountancy voyage, Tom discovered that our teaching methods suited his approach to learning.

    The continuity provided a level of comfort and consistency that enabled him to flourish “Kaplan provided excellent training throughout and their teaching styles suited me.”

    The future after AAT

    As an Accounting Technician, there are a range of fulfilling career routes available. You could even be eligible for exemptions from some higher learning units, meaning you can gain higher qualifications sooner than you might think and boost your earning potential.

    Our studies show

    That one third of all AAT students go on to chartered status.  

    Like Tom, you may opt to study as an apprentice, rather than take the university route. With AAT you don’t need any previous experience or qualifications to start, just a willingness to learn!

    This attitude has taken Tom all the way to being CIMA qualified. 

  • Sponsoring the 2020 BAME Apprenticeship Awards

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 18, 2020

    The BAME Apprenticeship Awards showcase the outstanding work and achievement of apprentices from black and minority ethnic groups (BAME), and inspires BAME apprentices to reach their full potential.

    We have a large number of apprentices from BAME groups, and we’re so proud of all the work that they do. So we’re delighted to be sponsoring this year’s awards in recognition of our amazing apprentices.

    If you have an apprentice, or work for a learning provider that excels in diversity, there is still time to get your nominations in. Nominations close on 26th June.

    Nominate your apprentice(s)

    Do your apprentices go above and beyond? Are they future leaders? Are they ambassadors for apprenticeships? You can take this opportunity to provide your rising stars with a platform to promote their great work.

    Nominate an apprentice

    Learning providers

    Are you a learning provider focused on promoting diversity and inclusion? Do you believe in social mobility? What are you doing to promote apprenticeships to diverse communities? Let the BAME Apprenticeship Awards know about the great work you’re doing.

    Nominate a learning provider

    Best of luck to all the nominees. We’re looking forward to discovering the winners in November.

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