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  • Kathy Walton reveals how to become a CEO, her family life and background

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 01, 2023

    The second episode of our new YouTube series, Career Goals, is now available to watch, and it features a very special guest - Kaplan UK CEO, Kathy Walton.

    In this episode of Career Goals, host Kelsey Haslam and Kathy Walton discuss all about Kathy’s career history and background so far, including how she got to her current position as Kaplan UK CEO.

    This engaging, quick-witted, and eye-opening episode emphasises that nothing is impossible to reach when working towards your career aspirations, and even people in highly commended job roles can still be just ordinary people from humble backgrounds.

    Key topics discussed


    Kathy talks about her role as a CEO, what this entails and how she worked her way up to this job role.

    She highlights how she started as a student striving to be a tutor at Kaplan but was soon taking on plenty more responsibilities before naturally progressing to become the CEO of Kaplan Financial UK.

    Kathy also reflects back to her roots. She was raised in Bolton and a big football fan, and references this in more detail to showcase how this passion helped her to get to where she is today.

    Never have I ever

    We get to know more about Kathy, her experience and general views while playing a game of Never have I ever. The truth comes out and we find that even the CEO of Kaplan UK hasn’t always been perfect in job interviews!

    Digital stories

    Kelsey asks Kathy to think of a number that’s significant to her. The conversation that follows helps us understand a lot more about Kathy’s personality, her background and how just one number can help shape someone’s views, lifestyle, or career.

    Industry myths

    Kelsey reads out a variety of statements that can be considered ‘myth’ or ‘fact’ to find out Kathy’s views.

    The discussion that follows reveals Kathy’s views on subjects such as economics, whether university is essential to become a CEO, and the characteristics that make a successful CEO.

    Final thoughts

    Kathy answers the closing question: what does ‘career goals’ mean to you?

    Watch the full episode

    The full episode is now available to watch on our YouTube channel. Remember to like, comment, and subscribe so that you never miss an episode with our exciting guests.

    Start your career journey

    Like everyone, Kathy had to start from somewhere. If you’re looking to go into the accounting and finance industry, have a look through our professional qualifications.

    Alternatively, if you believe an apprenticeship is the best route for you, you can browse through our vacancies or read more about how to talk to your employer about starting an apprenticeship.

    If you’re still unsure about where to begin, contact our Student Services Team on 0161 259 7400 or at

    Subscribe to Career Goals and never miss an episode


  • “Stay curious” - Julian Pietrangelo talks about his career as a data analyst

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 30, 2023

    We recently caught up with Julian Pietrangelo. Julian works at UK children’s charity, Barnardo’s, and was recently awarded an impressive grade in his Data Analyst apprenticeship.

    Alongside his job as a data analyst, Julian, who identifies as a trans man, is chair of the Trans Network at Barnardo’s.

    What made you go for an apprenticeship?

    Retraining, essentially. I did a physics degree and worked as a teacher at the beginning of my career, but when I stopped teaching I wasn’t sure what else I was qualified for. I started working at Barnardo’s with an internship, then took a couple of admin or office assistant type roles.

    Within these jobs, I didn’t have much of an outlet for the skills I had gained in my degree, like analytical thinking and bits of coding. However, I always found a way to add some data into my day-to-day role. This often meant improving reporting processes to have more calculations or neat visuals to share with stakeholders.

    I started an apprenticeship when I was working as a Product Manager. I had been getting myself involved in the development side of the data products that I was managing and my managers knew I was interested in data analysis so they gave me the opportunity.

    The apprenticeship was essentially to help me develop my knowledge, and learn more about the full cycle of working with data. I also felt like I needed a bit more direction and accountability so an apprenticeship suited me. Kaplan seemed like a good training provider to pick as it was so broad in scope.

    Have you always been interested in data?

    I think I’ve always been interested in data. When I stopped teaching, I took some online courses in things like SQL and designing relational databases. I was trying to figure out what to aim for next while I was searching for a job. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to keep this up when I got a paid job due to my long commute and the time commitment.

    Since then, I always found ways to bring more data into whatever job I was doing. Now that I work with data full time, I still manage to bring data into my hobbies.

    What challenges did you face during the apprenticeship?

    I think that one of the main challenges was that I started as a Product Manager, and then half way through the apprenticeship I secured a Data Analyst role within the same organisation. Initially, because I was in a team that wasn’t overseen by a data analyst, getting access to real data and projects was quite difficult.

    With the apprenticeship, you can work on projects that are actual requests from the business. I wasn’t being assigned any of these projects because I was still on a different team. I needed someone with more power to say, “have this project, this will meet the criteria you need,” so in the beginning I was a bit stressed about my portfolio meeting all the criteria. It was much better once I transferred teams.

    Another challenge was balancing some of the longer projects for the apprenticeship with my regular work, which comes in two-week cycles. It would have been helpful to have more reminders or guidance on deadlines, or what I should be working on, as I didn’t always find that clear.

    However, the taught modules were really good and enjoyable, and I liked the exercises in the virtual classrooms. I loved having access to DataCamp too. My tutor was also really approachable, though a lot of the time I needed to actively pursue the support that I wanted. This was easy enough for me to do, but might not suit everyone.

    Can you talk a bit about the skills that you developed?

    The course covered quite a range of skills and languages, which meant that I got to try things out and see how they fit. I also got to work with data that I don’t normally have access to.

    I work primarily with Children’s Services data, which needs a lot of cleaning and transforming but not much in the way of analysis. It was good to get more of a formal introduction to statistical methods like sampling and testing for significance, for example.

    I predominantly work in Power BI, making visuals and handling data in different ways. It’s fun, but if I want to move on from this job, or get a different analyst role that works with far more transactional data, or anything where we want to do any statistical testing, at least I can now fall back on my apprenticeship portfolio and show that I’ve got this experience and passed my qualification. Otherwise, in my day-to-day work, I’m slightly more restricted with the types of analysis tasks that I do.

    Were there any soft skills that you gained?

    I suppose that the main soft skill that I developed directly on the apprenticeship would have been initiative and problem-solving. If there was something that I had to do, or wanted to be able to do, it was my project and no one was going to do it for me.

    I also became more rigorous in how I solved problems. For example, I looked up how to make temporary tables in SQL, then used them in my solution and figured out how to test my solution to check that I was getting the result I expected.

    What advice would you give to someone going into the Data and Technology industry?

    If you’re interested in technology and data, even if you’re not in a relevant job yet, you can most likely find things you can do in your current job to help you gain some form of experience and practice. Find out what the easy-to-use, open source version of a programme you’re interested in is, and try to move tasks that you already do into it. Maybe you can cut out some processing steps in Excel using Power Query, or perhaps you can save yourself some time by automating a couple of tasks with a Python script you found on the internet and modified.

    Also, have a look for people making good tutorials and other content that you can learn from and put into practice in your own work. I am a fan of Evergreen Data (I learnt how to make so many attractive visuals in Excel from this site) and Curbal YouTube channel (for Power BI tips).

    So, I’d say to stay curious, and try to apply anything you learn to something you are already doing.

    What about people who are changing careers to this industry?

    I think one of the benefits I’ve had, and where I carved a niche for myself in my team, is that I have all of the skills, knowledge, and behaviours of an analyst, as well as a lot of existing knowledge relating to this organisation. That’s given me a huge head start in understanding business requirements or interpreting data for our users.

    Skills in data and technology can be learnt, while knowledge of a particular industry, business area or workplace is less easily acquired. If you want to change to a career in data, you might be able to give yourself an advantage by staying in the same business area and putting all your past experience to good use.

    Ready to change your career?

    If you’re feeling inspired by Julian’s experience, browse through our Data Analyst Level 4 apprenticeship and kickstart your career in data and technology. You can also read more about how to talk to your current employer about starting an apprenticeship.

    You can also read more about Julian’s experience at Barnardo's and the importance of being an inclusive and welcoming organisation.

    Ready to change your career?

    Find out more

  • “Acknowledge it when someone is saying they want to invest in you,” Jordan Lea’s career as a Business Analyst

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 23, 2023

    We recently caught up with Level 4 Business Analyst apprentice Jordan Lea. He talked all about transforming his career, working as a business analyst, and the benefits of the apprenticeship towards his career aspirations.

    Let’s take a closer look.

    Could you tell us about your career background and what made you go for an apprenticeship?

    Of course, so I graduated from university after studying Sociology back in 2016. I then got my first job at a company called EMaC as a call centre agent. I worked my way up to supervisor and then was offered a secondment to work as a business analyst for the data protection team at Innovation Group, who had bought EMaC.

    A big part of the secondment involved working with people in the transformation team. After it ended, they offered me a full-time job, so I saw it as an opportunity in front of me, and a solid career path for my future.

    Speech marks

    “It was an opportunity to start on the bottom of a ladder that I could climb higher on, rather than being half way up a ladder that I was stuck on.”

    Not too long after that, they said that they’ll put me on an apprenticeship as I didn’t have any experience as a business analyst aside from the secondment. It was essentially like a package that they’d put together to bring me onto the team. By then, I was eager to soak in as much knowledge as possible so that I could become a better business analyst - and that’s when I started the apprenticeship with Kaplan.

    What made you want to do the secondment?

    It was a combination of feeling like I wasn’t gaining much from my day-to-day job, and I couldn’t see anything new coming in the future. There was never a guarantee for me to get a job through the secondment, but I still saw it as a good opportunity.

    Obviously, it did work out that way - and I thought it would be a better career path for me to take. It was an opportunity to start on the bottom of a ladder that I could climb higher on, rather than being half way up a ladder that I was stuck on. So I started the new full-time position as a business analyst back in May 2022.

    What does the role of a Business Analyst entail?

    I suppose, in the word itself, you’re analysing a business. But you essentially look at a businesses’ processes, how they operate, and I work a lot with ‘business users,’ who are the staff that are using the systems that we’re analysing.

    For example, if we’re working to enhance a system, I will speak to the people who actually use them to get their views. I’d then start to formulate the requirements for the developers, and then the developers will turn these ideas into tangible changes.

    That’s a pretty big part of my role, but there are also bits of analysis that could be considered as more tedious or time consuming. It’s a multifaceted role - there are a lot of things that we do such as work closely with project managers, which includes project plans and working with dates and budgets.

    Are there any skills that you’ve noticed a development in since getting the full-time position?

    Definitely, I went into this apprenticeship as a blank slate in terms of the theoretical side of things. I didn’t know the pillars of business analysis, or the methodologies. But through the apprenticeship I’ve been able to learn this and actually apply it to my job.

    A good example is, there’s something called a RACI matrix - where you assign responsibilities to people in a project. And at work, there was an issue about who was doing what and who was responsible for certain tasks on a project, but I’d recently learnt the RACI matrix on the apprenticeship. So, I suggested it and they actually implemented it. So, that alone just shows to me how beneficial it is individually in my job role, but also beyond that and for my peers and colleagues.

    Some of the people I work with are old-school business analysts. They’re very technical people and I’m the youngest in the team. The average age is quite high, for example - a good friend and colleague of mine has just retired. They’re all so knowledgeable and experienced, but it’s really good to feel like there’s something that I can bring to the table.

    How would you compare the differences between university and an apprenticeship?

    It can be difficult to compare both of my experiences, as I’m so much more mature now than when I was at university. Because this is directly related to my job, I’m more motivated now to commit to it. But there are a lot of parallels. For example, I’m currently working on my apprenticeship portfolio and there are definitely parallels between that and my university dissertation.

    I prefer this style as it directly and positively impacts my job, and I’ll apply myself more now. I was younger at university, so there were things that I probably should have focused more on, and I’ve learnt from that now when I’m doing my apprenticeship.

    I think the apprenticeship has provided more soft skills than university as it’s generally more practical. It teaches me things that are related to business analysis, using Excel or other pieces of software, but it also benefits me as a professional in general. For example, conducting a presentation or being confident in my job role. Whereas, at university, every module will have been focused around sociology.

    What about your technical/hard skills?

    One of my main concerns when I got the job as a business analyst was that I lacked the IT-facing skills and technical knowledge.“But with that being said, I am already becoming more technically adept through implementing Business Process Modelling, something I really enjoy which I’ve learnt about during the apprenticeship. I’ve learned a lot more about API’s and integration with software which are more technical areas too.

    I was worried or anxious about these skills that I thought I’d never understand, but it turns out that they’re just like anything else you learn. If you apply yourself, try to understand it and practice it, you can be just as good as someone you perceive to be more technical.

    Have you encountered any challenges during the apprenticeship?

    Absolutely, but this is probably down to the character of the individual. For me, juggling work and the apprenticeship has been quite a big challenge. I’ve sometimes lacked when I should have been studying. But it’s been difficult as I’ve been thrown into a huge programme at work, where we’re transforming all of the systems.

    Although the project feeds into the apprenticeship programme a lot, I do get caught up in my work project, and weeks can go by before I realise that I need to re-focus on my apprenticeship again. So, I’ve needed to make sure that I don’t bury my head in the sand and that I focus on both at the same time.

    Do you feel like you’ve been supported enough at Kaplan?

    Yes, both my tutor and talent coach have been brilliant.

    You know when you’re at school, and you have teachers that you click with and learn the best from? For example, you would ask yourself, “do I hate maths as a subject, or is it because I don’t like the teacher?” Or, “do I love English, or is it just the way the English teacher teaches?” With Carla, she’s the English teacher example.

    She’s so easy to build a rapport with, and the way she delivers a class is quite relaxed yet focused. This strikes a really good balance.

    My talent coach, Dawn, is also really good. There have been times where I’ve been struggling to manage my time, and she’s said, “right, let’s not wait 12 weeks. Let’s have meetings every six weeks.” It helps me stay on track whereas I may not have otherwise, but she’s not had to do that. She’s just treated me as an individual which is really important.

    What are some of the highlights so far during your apprenticeship?

    Without trying to cop out, everything is so new and applicable, and I can apply it to my job. I’ll go into a live class one week, and the week after it’s already given me the tools to do what I need to do in work.

    If I didn’t have this apprenticeship, I think I would genuinely be lacking in my job. I’d be learning on my own, or as I go, so I can really see the benefit of something like this.

    But if I’m being more specific, I really liked learning about requirements engineering, as I enjoy talking to people and building relationships, which is a major part of my job. So, learning about the theory and methodology behind that was really good.

    But again, all of it has been so valuable because of where I am in my journey and how I can apply it to my role tangibly day-to-day.

    Did you know how useful an apprenticeship could be before this experience?

    I actually was placed on an apprenticeship before the secondment, it wasn’t provided by Kaplan, and it was more management and leadership focused. I didn’t realise how useful they could be, and turned my nose up a bit at it. I didn’t like it at the time, and would dread going through it.

    Thankfully, I got this secondment and was taken off that apprenticeship. But I’ve gone from being quite cynical to having a very positive experience.

    When I was offered the business analyst apprenticeship, I was initially still cynical but I just knew that it was going to benefit me and teach me what I needed to know about the job that I want to be doing. I wanted to be a business analyst, and be as good as I could be in the role.

    I also chose to view it as a ‘bonus’ to my job offer. It was like they were saying, “here’s your salary, but we also want you to progress,” and it’s essentially what has kick-started my business analyst career and given me those foundations to boost it.

    I think you’ve got to acknowledge it when someone is saying they want to invest in you, and they want you to grow in their company. It would be foolish to not recognise it and take the opportunity.

    Would you recommend a career as a Business Analyst?

    I would recommend it for someone who’s a people person, but also enjoys technology and software.

    Another big factor is my job satisfaction. People are really thankful that you’ve listened to them, even if it’s just a quick, 30 second job. Because I’ve sat and listened to concerns and passed them over to the relevant teams, they’re really grateful. So, for me, I find that a really satisfying aspect of the job.

    Speech marks

    “You’ve got to acknowledge it when someone is saying they want to invest in you, and they want you to grow in their company.”

    The way I see it, rightly or wrongly, is that there are certain jobs out there that offer more than what you can get from others from a career development perspective. This career opens up a lot of doors to opportunities, and I think if anyone is looking for that sort of career, this is one I would definitely recommend.

    Is there anything else that you’d like to add?

    I’d just like to say, Kaplan is spot on - it’s a credit to everyone who works there. I think that Kaplan has the right work culture, as it transcends into the output to us.

    Feeling inspired?

    Like Jordan, you can work towards opening more doors to opportunities, progress your career and upskill as a professional through our Data and Technology apprenticeship programmes.

    If you’re looking to become a business analyst, look no further than our Level 4 Business Analyst apprenticeship, or read more about how you can talk to your current employer about setting you up on an apprenticeship.

    Ready to change your career?

    Find out more

  • Changez and Laiba Baig talk generational differences, the UGC babe and working in finance

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 17, 2023

    The first episode of our brand new YouTube series, Career Goals, is finally live, and we’ve started off with two very exciting guests.

    Our first episode of Career Goals saw the host, Kelsey Haslam, joined by a father and daughter duo - Changez and Laiba Baig.


    Changez is a traditional accountant and worked his way up to a senior level in his career. From a career perspective, Changez has done it all - starting with an apprenticeship, studying AAT with Kaplan, and then always keeping an open mind about the future developments within the finance industry to help him grow his knowledge, expertise, and career.

    Laiba, Changez’s daughter, also started her career in accounting at fourteen years old, due to the encouragement of her father. However, after working in the industry, she decided to take another career path - completely different to what she and her father expected.

    The funny, inspiring, and thought provoking episode takes a deeper dive into their family dynamic, and how Changez truly feels about Laiba choosing a career as a TikTok content creator over an accountant.

    Key topics discussed


    Laiba and Changez talk about how he always wanted her to be an accountant, but after working in the industry Laiba opted to go down a different career path. She explains how she navigated that transformation despite reservations from Changez.

    Social media

    The topic of social media is raised, discussing Laiba’s work as a content creator with TikTok and how Changez feels about this career path. They highlight the pressures and demands within their family dynamic to put 100% into everything they do.

    Never have I ever

    The truth comes out while Laiba and Changez’s generational similarities and differences are clear to see during a game of Never Have I Ever.

    Industry myths

    Kelsey reads out a variety of statements that can be considered ‘myth’ or ‘fact’ to find out Laiba and Changez’s views - but do they agree with each other?

    The discussion that follows reveals their views on topics such as whether accountancy is a creative career path, the benefits of university versus a professional qualification or apprenticeship, and technological advancements regarding AI, social media, and finance.

    Final thoughts

    The closing question is asked: what does ‘career goals’ mean to you?

    Watch the full episode

    The full episode is now available to watch on our YouTube channel. Remember to like, comment, and subscribe so that you never miss an episode with our exciting guests.

    Start your career journey

    While Changez and Laiba went in opposite directions in terms of their careers, they both still believe that the AAT qualification is extremely useful to have so you can follow whichever career path you choose.

    Find out more about the AAT qualification and study methods, or if you’re still unsure about where to begin, contact our Student Services Team on 0161 259 7400 or at

    Subscribe to Career Goals and never miss an episode


  • 4 simple tips on how to become a sought-after data analyst

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 12, 2023

    Data analysts are needed across almost every industry. Organisations rely on these professionals to help them understand patterns and insights surrounding data which helps them to make crucial decisions.

    Data and technology professionals are already so highly sought-after by employers, due to the significant increase in demand over the last few years. However, you may already have the skills needed but just can’t find a workplace that you’re happy in. But not to worry, here are some of our tips on how to become more sought-after so that you have plenty of workplace offers to choose from.

    1. Refresh your knowledge on data analysis principles

    Whether you’re new to data analysis altogether, or you’ve got some previous experience or training, it’s important to ensure that your knowledge is always up to date and fresh.

    Not only is it very easy to forget the basics if you don’t use that knowledge every day, but the technology and data industry advances so rapidly that there’s possibly something new to learn tomorrow. While more and more professionals are noticing the increased demand for data and technology experts, make sure that you’re staying ahead of the competition with your knowledge.

    2. Select the right tools

    The most critical aspect of any data analysis work is to ensure that you have the right tools to work from. Again, you may not be using these tools everyday currently, or there may be a new ‘trend’ that you’re missing out on. Software such as Power BI, Tableau, and Python are just a few examples of some of the tools that data professionals rely on every day. So, ensure that you have access to what you need and that you spend time practicing and working with them so that you can prove to employers that you’re confident in this area.

    3. Remember the importance of soft skills

    A lot of focus is usually on the software and programming languages in the data and technology field, but people often forget the importance of soft skills. For example, as a data analyst you need to have excellent communication, organisation, and time management skills. It’s important that you can use an analytical approach to data and communicate your findings effectively.

    If you believe that you already have the soft skills needed, ask yourself - is there any way that these can be improved? It’s essential to always be learning and trying to expand your skill set. This can be achieved through further training, and relevant reading papers and books.The more you work to develop your skills, the more confident you’ll be when applying for jobs.

    4. Assess your values and goals

    You may be struggling to find a job as a data analyst, or having a hard time finding an employer that you’d like to work for. However, it’s also possible that you’re unsure of what exactly you’re looking for. This uncertainty may come across in interviews, and even influence your mindset when you do get offered a job role.

    It’s always worth taking the time to reassess your values and goals - both personally and professionally. If you have a solid idea of what you value in the workplace, then you’ll be much more likely to show that passion and energy when applying for specific roles. Employers are only human, and will most likely be able to see when you’re not enthusiastic about working for their company, so set yourself goals and evaluate what you want from your place of work. Then, you can set yourself a plan to reach those aspirations.

    Upskill as a data analyst

    Of course, to become a great data analyst you need to have a good understanding of data analysis principles and the tools needed to be competent at your role. And we understand that sometimes you may not have your ‘dream job’ when you’re first starting out. Your knowledge and skills in the industry are essential, however your soft skills, passion and determination is what will make you stand out from other candidates.

    Most of the requirements to become a sought-after data analyst are gained through experience. Apprenticeship programmes are the ideal way to learn the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to excel and progress your career - while you’ll also have nationally recognised training behind you.

    If you’re looking to upskill, or develop your confidence and experience as a data analyst, browse through our Data Analyst Level 4 apprenticeship programme, or read more to find out how to talk to your current employer about upskilling with an apprenticeship.

    Become a Data Analyst

    Find out more

  • Unleash the power of DevOps: boost your career in technology

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 21, 2023

    While technology rapidly advances, the demand for skilled individuals is increasing at an incredible pace. Technology is transforming the way in which we work, communicate and do business. And one of the most sought-after skills in the industry today is DevOps.

    What is DevOps?

    DevOps essentially combines the worlds of software development (Dev) and IT operations (Ops). It aims to shorten the systems development life cycle when delivering features, fixes, and updates while aligning closely with business objectives. A lot of DevOps aspects come from Agile methodology.

    In simpler terms, the main goal of DevOps is to break down the barrier between development and operations teams. A DevOps Engineer will help to streamline the process of software development and deployment, which reduces the time to market for new features and updates.

    As well as convenience, DevOps also emphasises automation and monitoring at all steps of software construction, from integration, testing and releasing to deployment and infrastructure management. The idea is to develop and improve products at a faster pace than traditional software development and infrastructure management processes. The improved speed allows organisations to compete more effectively in the market while bettering their customer experience.

    Advantages of DevOps

    For a business or IT professional, DevOps brings several significant advantages.

    • Beating the competition. Firstly, DevOps enables fast, frequent delivery of high-quality software, ensuring that the business can remain ahead of the competition.
    • Collaboration. The DevOps approach encourages collaboration and communication between teams (particularly development and operations teams), which results in more efficient and effective decision-making processes.
    • Innovation. DevOps promotes a culture of continuous improvement. This encourages innovation and experimentation, and again will allow a business or skilled professional to stay ahead of competition.

    Careers in DevOps

    DevOps has swiftly become one of the most in-demand skill sets in the technology industry, and job opportunities continue to grow at a rapid pace. Organisations are seeking professionals who have experience in DevOps which include automating system processes, continuous integration and delivery, and infrastructure as code.

    A few of the careers and industries that a DevOps engineer may work in can include:

    • Software development companies - DevOps engineers play a crucial role in managing the software development lifecycle, making this industry a prime choice.
    • Information technology and services - Many IT services, like cloud computing or IT consulting, require the expertise of DevOps engineers to ensure smooth operations.
    • Financial services - Banks and financial institutions are increasingly relying on digital platforms, where DevOps engineers can contribute significantly to maintaining and improving these platforms.
    • E-commerce - Online retailers require robust and efficient IT systems, which DevOps engineers can help to build and maintain.
    • Healthcare - With the rise of telemedicine and electronic health records, the healthcare sector is in need of DevOps professionals to manage their expanding digital platforms.
    • Education - While a lot of education is now taught online, Education Technology (or EdTech) companies require DevOps engineers to ensure that their platforms can handle large volumes of users and data.
    • Government - Governments are also digitising their services, leading to a growing need for DevOps engineers to oversee any transformations.
    • Media and entertainment - Streaming platforms, digital news outlets, and gaming companies all require the skills of a DevOps engineer to keep their digital services running smoothly.
    • Automotive - Even cars are becoming more digital, so the automotive industry needs DevOps engineers to manage software development in areas such as in-car entertainment systems and self-driving technologies.
    • Telecommunications - The telecom industry often needs DevOps engineers for managing networks, systems, and services.

    As you can see, DevOps engineers are required almost everywhere. You’ll need to develop soft skills such as communication, collaboration, and leadership skills, as well as the harder expert-level skills and knowledge.

    However, if you don’t yet have this experience, don’t worry. Everyone has to start somewhere, and at Kaplan we offer the DevOps Engineer Apprenticeship (Level 4) which will teach you everything you need to know to become a highly-sought after DevOps engineer.

    Boost your career

    DevOps has become a buzzword in the data and technology industry - and it’s no surprise why. The methodology has several advantages for businesses and IT professionals and will work to transform the digital world as we know it today.

    There’s never been a better time to upskill in this area, and there are plenty of opportunities to do so. If you’re interested in the DevOps Engineer apprenticeship, find out more information online, or read more about how you can talk to your current employer about starting an apprenticeship.

    Alternatively, have a browse through our current vacancies.

    Browse our DevOps apprenticeship

    Find out more

  • How to be more like Barbie

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 25, 2023

    The highly anticipated Barbie movie is finally out, and it’s almost everywhere you look. Whether you like Barbie or not, you have to admit that she is iconic, and very influential for women worldwide.

    Let’s cast aside the controversies about Barbie’s physical appearance and how that impacts society for a moment, and focus on what we do love about Barbie: her range of careers. Nowadays, you can find Barbie in almost every career - actor, photographer, chef, businesswoman, and teacher, to name a few. But if the usual job roles aren’t your thing, let’s take a look at how else you can become more like Barbie.

    Introducing the Game Developer Barbie

    That’s right, Barbie’s career has transformed from traditional, or stereotypical job roles to some highly-skilled, niche areas. Game Developer Barbie is perfect for those who love gaming, but specifically the technology and data skills required to design, develop or programme a game. If you have an analytical, problem-solving mind, then Game Developer Barbie may become your new favourite.

    This doll steps away from the usual blonde Barbie look, opting for a casual jeans and jacket outfit with trainers instead of high heels. With long, red and brown hair, the doll also comes with realistic accessories for those interested in the gaming or technology industry. These accessories include a silver computer headset, a laptop with a representation of coding/data on the screen, an ipad, and some trendy glasses so that she doesn’t strain her eyes while working so closely with computers!

    Barbie with headphones and tablet

    Game Developer Barbie is perfect for those tech-savvy individuals who struggle to see themselves being represented through toys or in the media, and Mattel did quite a great job in representing the ‘look’ of a female game developer with this one.

    The rise in data and technology

    The Game Developer Barbie has never been so relevant. Employers worldwide are seeking highly skilled professionals within the data and technology sectors, and individuals are aiming to keep their skills new and up to date to avoid being left behind.

    As technology continues to progress, the line between the technology sector and other industries are starting to blur as these skills are required at almost every organisation. Not only this, but the demand in skilled workers in the data and technology industry is much higher than the amount of workers actually available.

    Robert Walters paired up with Total Jobs and Jobsite to survey 550 technology professionals. Some of the results showed that:

    • Over half of employers find that candidates lack the right technical skills
    • Over one quarter of technology hiring managers face competition for skilled candidates as they receive multiple job offers
    • Over 20% of technology employers noted that they need to encourage more females into the sector.

    While technology advances, it’s inevitable that skilled professionals in data and technology are going to continue to rise in demand. The current skills shortage is a better time than ever to get ahead of the competition, gain those skills and excel your career.

    Women in tech

    Aside from the evident demand in technology professionals, the lack of diversity is clearly a concern that has been noticed across the industry. Diversity is important in all workplaces, as it encourages new opinions, mindsets, experiences and opportunities. So, Game Developer Barbie represents one step towards a much more diverse and inclusive industry where women can thrive.

    While Game Developer Barbie is breaking stereotypes, the technology industry is still stereotypically male. Reducing the masculine language in job descriptions for technical roles and encouraging younger females to go down a technical career path can help with this. But still, only 26% of technology workers are women.

    How to be more like Game Developer Barbie

    Unlike Barbie, you can’t just get a headset, laptop, and some cool glasses to become a game developer. Maybe if you just want to look tech-savvy, but the skills come with hard work!

    Game development can be considered as an umbrella term to describe all other areas related to gaming. However, if you want to focus on your technical skills, a game programmer route is a great one to take.

    With game programming, you have the opportunity to create efficient software within the constraints of real-time graphical environments running on contemporary gaming platforms, as well as applying all the logic and coding skills to your work. Key skills that employers are looking for, including C++, are also great to have as it will significantly increase your efficiency, productivity, and confidence in your work.

    So, if you want to be more like Game Developer Barbie, you’ll need to develop your confidence and efficiency in this area, and put in the hard work and dedication to showcase your skills and talent in the industry.

    Not only is it fun for those who love gaming, but if you have an analytical mind, are interested in coding or just want to know more about data and technology in general, becoming a game programmer is an amazing opportunity.

    The next steps

    Barbie can be a controversial character, but we have to love this one! If you want to be more like Barbie, all while excelling in your career, get ahead of the technology wave, and become much more tech-savvy, then be more like Game Developer Barbie.

    Research shows that women may be put off working in the technology industry if there are less opportunities for promotions. So, the first step to take is to browse through our Game Programmer Level 7 apprenticeship. You’ll receive plenty of support, guidance and real-life experience to apply to your workplace, so your newfound skills and expertise will open up many opportunities to progress your career.

    You can also read more about other game programmers and how they’ve found the apprenticeship.

    Alternatively, if you’re interested in kickstarting your exciting career with the Game Programmer apprenticeship but unsure where to look, you can browse through our current vacancies or find out how to talk to your current employer about starting an apprenticeship.

    Ready to be more like Barbie?

    Find out more

    * All photographs of the Game Developer Barbie doll are courtesy of Amazon UK.

  • Learn Better Series - Summer Special with Kaplan CEO, Kathy Walton

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 15, 2023

    As Season 3 of our Learn Better podcast comes to an end, we have an extra special bonus episode available to listen to this summer.

    Our guest for this episode is none other than Kathy Walton, the CEO of Kaplan UK. Kathy and Stuart discuss all things apprenticeships, highlighting Kathy’s background and passion for education, and drawing comparisons between an apprenticeship and professional qualifications. If you’re still unsure whether an apprenticeship is right for you, this episode will surely help you make a decision.


    Stuart and Kathy approach Kathy’s background experience, and how she has experienced the best of both worlds through working in a bank and then attending university.

    This chat is followed by the theme of apprenticeships: what they are, what they are not, why they are important, and how they define the knowledge, skills, and behaviours required to excel in a role.

    Opportunities for all

    Diving deeper into apprenticeships, Stuart and Kathy talk through how they are delivered at a national standard. This means that no matter where you’re from in the UK, you will have access to opportunities throughout the country after your training.

    The duo mention how employers are constantly searching for diversity and new talent in their workplace, so apprenticeships can significantly assist with this.

    Speech marks

    “All employers really want to create opportunities for people who may not have thought about their industry as a profession. I think apprenticeships in combination with that impetus is what’s unlocking the ability to do that for organisations.”

    Knowledge, skills, and behaviours

    Kathy shares her views that the true value of education is what you do with it afterwards, and how you apply it. This is another reason behind her passion about apprenticeships, as it is directly applied to the workplace where yourself and your employer can see the benefits.

    They compare professional qualifications and apprenticeships, expanding on many of the pros and cons between the two. For example, those who struggle to showcase their capabilities in exams will also be able to prove their knowledge through applying their learnings to the workplace. Therefore, the method of assessment can be much more accurate and convenient in an apprenticeship. Whereas those who are unsure of what career path they want to take may benefit more from a professional qualification.

    Bridging the skills gaps

    The skills gap is a common topic of discussion whenever analysing apprenticeships. Kathy explains what the skills gap is, and how employers and apprenticeships can bridge that gap. She further identifies the way in which necessary skills are reviewed and updated regularly to ensure that an apprentices knowledge is always relevant to the workplace.

    Benefits to the employer

    Continuing the skills gap conversation, Stuart and Kathy talk through a few examples in detail of how apprenticeships are beneficial to the employer. Examples such as improved loyalty and retention rates are addressed, why Kathy gives a closer insight into how employers can get involved in their apprentice’s journey.

    Kathy also provides a short breakdown of what employers can expect from putting their employees through an apprenticeship. The duo discuss topics such as what off-the-job training entails, regular appraisals and who an apprenticeship may be suitable for.

    Speech marks

    “If you know you want to be something and you’re prepared to sign up for three years with a specific employer, then go for it.”

    The involvement of the training provider

    Listeners can expect to hear all about apprenticeships from the employer’s and trainee’s perspective, and now the training provider’s perspective. Kathy and Stuart discuss how the training provider contributes to an apprenticeship training plan, ensuring that this meets the employer’s and apprentice’s goals. They touch upon the coaches, mentors, and others involved in ensuring all goals are met while guiding them through the apprenticeship journey.

    They summarise the conversation by assessing the quality of the support and education provided from an apprenticeship, as well as the life skills offered.

    Speech marks

    “Rather than looking at which one is best, it’s a personal choice for what you want to achieve. It’s a career path choice: what do you want and which is the best route for you.”

    Listen to our Learn Better podcast

    For the full conversation between Kathy and Stuart, head over to our Learn Better podcast and listen to our very special summer bonus episode.

    Want more of the Learn Better Podcast?

    Listen now

  • Data in the world of marketing: Jay Tillotson’s story

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 11, 2023

    We recently spoke to marketing PPC manager, Jay Tillotson, who recently completed the Data Technician Level 3 apprenticeship with Kaplan. She talked us through her journey of discovering the value of data, and how her newfound skills are helping her in her marketing career.

    Can you tell us about your career so far and why you started an apprenticeship?

    I started working in digital marketing in SEO from around 2007. I knew absolutely nothing about spreadsheets or data, or anything really, except how to build a link in HTML.

    I taught myself how to do some of the basic stuff on Excel using formulas, and then I moved over to the PPC side of marketing after around five years. I then realised that there was all this data out there that I needed to be using.

    When working in PPC, it’s important to have data manipulation skills so that you can make sense of it all. Because, otherwise, you’re just manually working through hundreds and hundreds of rows on a spreadsheet. For many years, I was teaching myself how to do things through Google search, and I found that I was quite good at using Google to find the formulas that I needed. So, before the apprenticeship, it was all self-taught.

    Then one day, when the apprenticeship with Kaplan came up, my manager asked me if I was interested so I just signed up for it.

    As you already had some skills, how did you find it overall?

    Once we had completed the Excel module, which was quite early on in the apprenticeship, the in-depth data side of it was when my learning really started. A lot of it was definitely very new to me. For example, I’d never used tools like Power BI before, but now I use it for everything.

    Understanding the concepts of why we present data in specific ways was new to me too. The Excel and spreadsheet side was a much smaller part of the apprenticeship, so it didn’t feel like I had a huge advantage, especially in terms of understanding data.

    But I did find it easy a lot of the time because I found it interesting. When you’re really interested in something, it’s always going to be easier to learn it.

    Can you explain a bit more about what Power BI is?

    It’s essentially a reporting suite or a reporting tool. It’s a piece of software and a Microsoft product which connects to hundreds of different data sources, most of which I had never heard of. You can basically use it to create visualisations, such as graphs, charts, tables and interactive elements which help you tell a data story.

    So it’s good to use to analyse performance, answer a data question, or just share and present that information to people.

    How did you find the structure of your apprenticeship?

    Online learning

    I studied through Live Online, and we had several assignments throughout the course, which was nice as we got regular feedback to know how we can improve going forward.

    I would say that I found the assignment side of things more challenging. In general, if I found that I didn’t 100% understand what was required, I would go to pieces. But after contacting my Talent Coach, he would sit with me to work through the sheet and help me work out whatever the issue was.

    Apprenticeship portfolio

    Throughout the apprenticeship I would work through the assignments in different modules while putting together a portfolio of different work. This is essentially a collection that ticks all of the boxes that you need to meet in order to pass the apprenticeship. There would be projects that I found useful to apply to my day-to-day role. For example, one of them included reporting with Power BI, so I could build a report in my job that also contributed towards my apprenticeship.

    The apprenticeship gateway is the period between completing the actual training and the End-Point Assessment (EPA) with the external assessor. It’s a good time to get feedback on the projects in your portfolio, make sure you’ve included evidence of as many knowledge, skills and behaviour criteria as you can, and also expand on areas to tick off a few more.

    Once your Talent Coach thinks you’re ready, they’ll book you in for your EPA. Gateway gave me the opportunity to answer questions about what was in my portfolio, as well as questions to make sure that I understood any other criteria that may not be evidenced.

    Online task

    I also had a task, similar to the other assignments, but the assessor can see your screen and you have thirty minutes to complete the task, followed by a fifteen minute discussion. They will then ask you questions on why you answered things a certain way where you can discuss what you would have done differently if you struggled with the time.

    Overall, it was intense. It’s the third apprenticeship that I’ve done but they all follow a similar structure regardless. You need to show competency in order to pass, and showcase your knowledge, skills and behaviours while providing evidence that you can meet the criteria.

    How did your data apprenticeship help with your current role?

    I think the understanding of data really helped, the apprenticeship teaches you how to use that data to tell a story and critically analyse and interpret it. For example, you learn how to ask the right questions, or interrogate it you could say, to really understand what it’s telling you.

    There’s now a big difference regarding my day-to-day job as I can visually detail everything that I need to, edit it down and have a clear purpose behind each report. So, I’m able to tell stakeholders exactly what they want or need to know rather than just giving them everything to decipher.

    Not only that, but I can be provided with a data sequence and assess whether it is correct or misleading. So, this understanding has probably been the main impact that it’s had on my job, other than the use of software like Power BI.

    Would you recommend an apprenticeship to others?

    Absolutely. One of the good things about an apprenticeship is that it’s open to anyone. As long as you’re over 18 and not on another training programme, I believe you can do an apprenticeship.

    There are also so many different subjects available. It doesn’t matter if you’re older, or what your background is. As long as you think you can do it, then the sky's the limit.

    You’re also getting paid to learn, rather than leaving education with a huge amount of debt, so that’s a bonus.

    There’s a lot more awareness surrounding apprenticeships now, but some people do still see it as just available for jobs that require manual or physical labour, but that’s not the case.

    Is there anything you’d like to add?

    One thing that I’d like to highlight in favour of apprenticeships is that if you’re not sure what you want to do, an apprenticeship isn’t as big of a commitment as you think. I think a lot of people are afraid of the commitment, but with university, for example, you’re committing to a specific subject, a set amount of years and a lot of money.

    With an apprenticeship, you can usually complete it in around 18 months, and if you decide that it’s not for you, then you still have the time to figure out what it is that you want and go from there. You can also continue to build on your apprenticeship. For example, I’m in the data field, but I work in marketing - I’m not a data analyst. But if I wanted to move into a data analyst role, I now have that foundation to build from and move into that area.

    You can try anything and go as far as you want to and it’ll never be a waste of time or money.

    Interested in an apprenticeship?

    Kickstart your career and reach your goals by browsing our current apprenticeship vacancies, or read more on how you can talk to your employer about starting an apprenticeship.

    Interested in an apprenticeship?

    Browse our vacancies

  • Boost your employee retention rate and win the war for talent

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 09, 2023

    If you want to win the war for talent and continue to grow your business, it’s inevitable that you need to invest in your colleagues’ professional and personal development to maintain a high level of job satisfaction. Without this investment, many employers will continue to struggle with building highly skilled teams and retaining their existing workforce.

    With skills in data and technology in such high demand, professionals are looking elsewhere for opportunities if they are not satisfied with their workplace. At Kaplan, we can help you conquer those fears of high turnover in your workplace. Let’s take a closer look.


    Employers across the UK are struggling to retain their workforce. Although there are plenty of reasons behind high turnover, a common concern is that there is a lack of career progression across many industries.

    A common phrase comes to mind:

    Speech marks

    “Find a job you love, and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

    On average, roughly one third of our lives will be spent at work. So, it’s easy to understand why job satisfaction is important. However, this just isn’t enough anymore, especially during a global economic crisis.

    In addition to this, how many of us would be happy working at the same level in a workplace for the rest of our lives? Particularly in lower-paid or lower-skilled roles. But it is possible to have the best of both worlds: your colleagues can enjoy their careers while taking advantage of opportunities to progress financially and professionally, and it all comes down to the decision-makers.

    Taking a closer look into the statistics, LinkedIn’s Global Talent Trends 2020 report found that employees stick around 41% longer at companies that regularly hire from within. From an employer’s perspective, replacing existing employees can range from 16% to 213% of the employee’s salary due to costs involving recruitment, training and salary.

    A lack of training opportunities leads to a lack of career progression. In today’s ever-evolving world of technology and data skills, work experience can’t always do the job. Therefore, employers start to seek external candidates to fill in any skills gaps. But, as the statistics show, this can lead to lower job satisfaction from existing employees and increased hiring costs.

    We’re not saying that hiring new personalities is all negative. In fact, younger generations like Gen Z offer plenty to the workplace which may have been rarely seen in the past. However, it is not economically or logistically viable to only hire new people. When you have hardworking people in your team, why wouldn’t you want to encourage them to grow and prosper? It’s all about finding the right balance.

    War for talent

    Data and technology skills are needed in almost every industry, and yet there is a clear lack of skilled professionals. For example, the UK Government estimated that the potential supply of data scientists from universities is unlikely to exceed 10,000 a year. However, there are around 215,000 roles looking for hard data skills that need to be filled.

    With this in mind, the demand is so high that it is very difficult to find the people with the correct skills that your organisation needs. Even if you wanted to hire new staff, it’s likely that they are going to require training to boost their skills. If you choose to compete with other businesses to get those in-demand skilled professionals, you’ll need to focus on ensuring that your organisation stands out from the crowd. However, upskilling the workforce will put you on a whole new playing field. This eliminates the competition and helps you to reach the goal of boosting your workplace while making your business the place where skilled professionals want to work.

    Tackling the stereotypes

    A simple yet effective solution to win the war for talent, and make your business a desirable place to work, is our data and technology apprenticeship programmes. The word ‘apprenticeship’ holds many stereotypes. Many people still believe that they are limited and are not suitable for people who are academically gifted. But these stereotypes couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Encouraging your workplace to partake in a data and technology apprenticeship can give you the opportunity to both upskill existing staff, and hire new staff who are excited to work for an employer that cares about their personal and professional growth.

    To help you understand a little bit more about why apprenticeships may just be the perfect business decision for you, here are some facts about our data and technology apprenticeships.

    Apprenticeships are not limited. It is often overlooked how many transferable, soft and hard skills an apprentice gains from their training. For example, apprentices can gain knowledge in highly desired software and programming languages such as Python, SQL, or Excel, which can ultimately translate into any job across the industry.

    Apprenticeships encourage diversity. Options such as university can be very expensive with exceptionally high admission rates. This can reduce opportunities for those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds or have experienced a lack in quality of education. Apprenticeships come with varied entry levels, so your business can take advantage of talent who may have previously gotten lost in the system.

    Apprenticeships are not practical only. Not only will an apprenticeship provide the opportunities to apply their skills directly to the workplace, the knowledge is also taught by experts in the field to ensure that your workforce can thrive in their positions and you can reach your business goals.

    Apprenticeships boost retention rates, employee satisfaction and loyalty. If you are investing in your workforce, they will acknowledge that and appreciate the growth that your business can provide them. Therefore, an apprenticeship can significantly boost overall job satisfaction and loyalty to the workplace, making your business a strong leader in the war for talent.

    There is plenty of support available. From coaches to tutors, both the apprentice and employer will receive regular support throughout the whole apprenticeship process and journey. As an employer, you won’t be left alone to support your workplace as the training provider can take a lot of that pressure away from you.

    Boost your business

    We are passionate about the benefits of an apprenticeship for both the apprentice and the employer. There are many opportunities for your business to grow, you just need to know where to look.

    For more information, take a look at our Data and Technology apprenticeship programmes, or contact the team who will be happy to help with any concerns you may have.

    Looking to upskill your workplace?

    Get in touch

  • Webinar: working in forensic accounting

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 07, 2023

    We recently held a webinar to hear from partner and entrepreneur at DSW Bridge Houghton Forensic, Kate Beckett, who spoke about what it’s like to work in forensic accounting.

    Event panellists

    Kate Beckett - partner and entrepreneur DSW Bridge Houghton Forensic

    Kate qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2006 at Deloitte, and then worked in the Forensic and Dispute Services Team until 2014. She joined DSW Bridge Houghton Forensic at that point, bringing with her a wide variety of forensic accounting skills from a broad range of forensic assignments across multiple industries.

    She has also spent periods of time on secondment in industry, including a large Financial Institution assisting their Financial Crime team, by implementing enhanced Anti-Money Laundering processes.

    Jenny Pelling - Apprenticeship Partnerships Director, Kaplan Financial

    Joining Kate was Jenny Pelling, Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity at Kaplan UK. Jenny’s career in education and apprenticeships has seen her involvement in designing programmes and enhancing provision for learners and employers’ benefit.

    She has strategic responsibility for apprentices’ career progression and their personal development. Jenny also leads “Brighter Futures,” at Kaplan which focuses on social mobility and providing opportunities for all.

    Key topics discussed

    Kate and Jenny’s Q+A

    The discussion kicks off with a question and answer session from Jenny to delve further into Kate’s career, views, and experience.

    Kate’s career

    Jenny asks Kate to provide some background information regarding her career path. Kate provides details such as how she qualified in ACCA, worked at Deloitte and the jobs that this would include. She now works for DSW Bridge Houghton Forensic, and explained how she transitioned into that workplace and the difference in her job role.

    What is a forensic accountant?

    Kate provides a detailed insight into a day in the life of a forensic accountant. She explains in more detail what a forensic accountant does, and what this means for anyone looking to explore that area of accounting and finance.

    Skills in forensic accounting

    Jenny enquires about the difference in skills between Kate’s role now as a forensic accountant compared to working in audit. Kate highlights a few key skills that are important to her role, particularly mentioning examples such as attention to detail, robustness and credibility. She continues by providing examples of how specific skills are utilised in this industry while comparing them with tasks for those who may work in audit.

    The conversation dives further into cross examination skills which can be required in your job role as a forensic accountant, while Kate gives an explanation of how to prepare for tasks like this.

    Audience Q+A

    Jenny opens up for questions from viewers of the webinar, many of whom are apprentices with Kaplan interesting to go into this area of accounting and finance.

    How to get into forensic accounting

    Kate explores the topics of relevant qualifications to get into the industry, how to demonstrate that you have the skills required, and how to get opportunities.

    The discussion addresses factors that employers may be looking for. Kate addresses differences in qualifications, such as ACCA, ACA and ATT, and what employers may be looking for, as well as the differences between your work experience being with a large accounting business compared to smaller companies.

    The role of data

    Kate showcases examples of how the knowledge of how to interpret and analyse data is used in forensic accounting, and having this knowledge, the resources, or access to someone with the skills is increasingly important as everything becomes more and more digitalised.

    Average salary in forensic accounting

    Jenny asks if Kate can compare the salaries in this area of accounting compared to others. Kate provides her own perspectives while explaining how it usually depends on the company and the individual’s skills.

    What experience do you gain in your first year of forensic accounting?

    Kate shares her own experience when working in forensic accounting after working for three years in audit. She talks about how her ideas were recognised and appreciated, and how she was provided many opportunities to gain experience in different areas of the role and become part of larger projects where she could showcase and develop her skills.

    The role of AI in forensic accounting

    An apprentice in the audience asks for Kate’s views on artificial intelligence (AI) and whether its introduction will have a positive or negative impact on the role of a forensic accountant.

    In response, Kate provides her opinions supported by her experience, and how AI can be an effective tool as long as the business is accepting of it.

    Watch the full recording online

    To catch up with Kate and Jenny’s recent discussion and gain more of an understanding into the realities and day in the life of a forensic accountant, watch the full conversation on our YouTube channel.

    Interested in an apprenticeship?

    Boost your future with an apprenticeship and gain the necessary skills, knowledge, and behaviours to support your career aspirations. If you’re interested in an apprenticeship, browse our current vacancies online or read our blog about how to talk to your employer about doing an apprenticeship.

    If you are an employer interested in enrolling your colleagues onto an apprenticeship, contact the team today or find out more on our apprenticeships for employers page.

    Looking for an apprenticeship?

    Browse our vacancies

  • Kaplan ranked 4th place in the RateMyApprenticeship Top 50 Training Providers

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 03, 2023

    We have moved up the ranks in the RateMyApprenticeship Top 50 Training Providers list, making it to 4th place for 2023 - 2024.

    On 20th July 2023, a virtual event was held to celebrate the best employers and training providers that are leading the way in offering world-class apprenticeships to school and college leavers in the UK.

    Last year, we achieved 5th place, so we were excited to discover that we ranked 4th on the list of Top 50 Training Providers. The ratings are determined by reviews and feedback from our Apprentices, so we’re absolutely thrilled that they see the value we add every day throughout their journeys.

    We are extremely proud to share that we have moved up in the rankings, and we will be looking forward to another year of providing exceptional training services to our learners.

    Best Providers RateMyApprenticeship graphic wall of logos

    What do our learners think?

    We received excellent feedback from the RateMyApprenticeship results directly from apprentices studying with us. Take a look at what some of them had to say…

    “I have really enjoyed my apprenticeship so far as I have gotten to learn a lot about the world of audit. My company has really helped me gain great exposure into what I have wanted to do for a while, and my tutor is very helpful anytime I need to speak to her.”

    “Through Kaplan, we have access to a Talent Coach. The Talent Coach is our dedicated contact who is responsible for working with us to work towards completing our apprenticeship. We have regular sessions to discuss our progress and what needs to be completed to ensure we are on track to finish on time.

    I have a monthly call with my Talent Coach and then a longer six weekly call - during these sessions we discuss the qualification and progress. The Talent Coach is also contactable outside of these catch ups to discuss any questions I may have, and do sometimes arrange additional sessions to discuss these questions. They provide a swift response to any queries and usually are solved at the first point of contact.”

    “Kaplan arranges a catch up meeting every six weeks to see how I’m progressing. If you have any questions, you can contact Kaplan where they will be happy to support you.

    Interested in an apprenticeship?

    If you are interested in starting your apprenticeship, browse through our current vacancies online now, or read our blog  How to talk to your employer about doing an apprenticeship.

    If you are an employer and interested in enrolling your colleagues on an apprenticeship, get in touch with our business team today.

    Want to know more about apprenticeships?

    Find out more

  • Kaplan’s first ever apprenticeship awards: everything you need to know

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 31, 2023

    This year we will be hosting our first ever Kaplan apprenticeship awards. The aim is to celebrate and recognise the success and achievements of apprentices and line managers across our accountancy and tax, banking and financial services, and data and technology programmes.

    We know that working towards your career aspirations can be challenging and difficult at times, so we want to give you the opportunity to celebrate your incredible achievements, while your employers can also show their appreciation and acknowledgement of all your hard work.

    Here is everything that you need to know so far.

    Where will the awards be held?

    Attendees will be acknowledging their successes at The Shard in London where they will enjoy a relaxed afternoon tea and celebratory drinks.

    When will the awards be?

    The awards ceremony will take place on 12th December 2023.

    What are the categories?

    We have 11 categories. This is to ensure that all of the nominators will find a suitable category for their nominees and all of our apprentices have an equal chance of being recognised by Kaplan at our first ever award ceremony.

    We also have ensured that all nominees have an equal chance to be nominated whether they are training in accounting and tax, banking and financial services, or data and technology.

    The award categories are:

    Accountancy and Tax

    The Accountancy and Tax award is awarded to apprentices for using technical knowledge, skills, and experience to guide businesses and people in making ethical and sustainable financial decisions.

    Banking and Financial Services

    The Banking and Financial Services award is awarded to apprentices who have developed into proficient banking and financial services professionals, applying technical expertise and what they have learned to their current role.

    Data and Technology

    The Data and Technology award is for apprentices in data and technology who work efficiently to improve judgements, find new sources of income, and implement tech-enabled business change initiatives.

    Apprenticeship Advocate Award

    The Apprenticeship Advocate Award is awarded to apprentices who have had a positive impact on their community through their advocacy work. The winner of this award must have positively impacted organisations or apprentices.

    Personal Development Award

    The Personal Development Award is for an apprentice who has put in a lot of effort to become the best version of themselves, and is constantly seeking ways to do so.

    Mentoring and Support Award

    The Mentoring and Support Award is awarded to an apprentice who has distinguished themselves as a mentor by helping others achieve their professional goals by providing moral, social, and intellectual support.

    Resilience Award

    The Resilience Award will be awarded to an apprentice who has excelled both professionally and personally while overcoming difficult challenges throughout their apprenticeship, refusing to give up.

    Citizenship Award

    The Citizenship Award will be awarded to an apprentice contributing to the communities that they live in, making our society and community a special place to live.

    Line Manager Award

    And it’s not all just about the apprentices. The Line Manager Award will be awarded to a line manager and the company that they work for, for continuously supporting their apprentice and ensuring their success.

    How do I nominate?

    Anyone can nominate and you can nominate as many people as you’d like to through the online nomination form. All you need to do is fill in your details, your nominee’s details, and reasons why you believe that they should win an apprenticeship award. To boost the potential of your nominees' success, try to include as many details as possible.

    When do the nominations close?

    Nominations are open now, until 22 September 2023

    Who are the judges?

    We have a panel of five judges waiting to read your nominations.

    The 2023 apprenticeship awards judges are:

    Elizabeth Hess, Director of Communications, Kaplan

    Elizabeth is Director of Communications for Kaplan’s UK based businesses. Previously, she has worked in public relations and public affairs in the Netherlands and the USA in the telecom and satellite communications sector.

    Elizabeth is also a trustee for the North East Derbyshire Support Centre and the Helena Kennedy Foundation. She holds a BA degree from UCLA and an MA from McGill University.

    Jenny Pelling, Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity, Kaplan

    Jenny is the Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity at Kaplan. She is a member of the Apprenticeship Leadership Team at Kaplan Financial and a Governor of Kaplan Pathways. She leads on the Brighter Futures initiative, and is dedicated to broadening access to apprenticeships and the professions through her work. Jenny is a patron and judge for the Multicultural Apprenticeship Alliance and Awards, RISE, which provides skills insights to schools and the social mobility charity, Career Ready.

    Jenny also represents Kaplan as an organising partner of the World Skills Accounting and Tax competition. Before Kaplan, Jenny was the Director of Business and Apprenticeships at CILEx Law School.

    Jagdeep Soor, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Pathway Group

    Jagdeep has over 25 years’ experience in the employment support and skills sectors, working on the majority of mainstream back to work programmes, both in Great Britain and Northern Ireland. He is a strategist with extensive senior operational experience.

    Currently, Jagdeep is the Head of Strategic Partnerships for the Multicultural Apprenticeship Alliance and The Apprenticeship Diversity and Social Mobility Forum. The aim of these two initiatives is to promote social mobility, diversity, inclusion, and equity in apprenticeships and employability. Jagdeep is a Fellow of the Institute of Employability Professionals, and has a passion for equality, diversity, inclusion, and equity, to support those that are most at risk of missing out on opportunity.

    Derek Cockfield, Head of Corporate Partnerships, WorldSkills UK

    Derek is an experienced fundraising manager, having worked in the charity sector for over 15 years. He is responsible for identifying and delivering strategic partnerships which help to drive increased representation and engagement with underrepresented groups at WorldSkills UK. He oversees delivery of their equity, diversity, and inclusion programmes.

    David Barker, Chief Technology Officer and Head Of Partnerships, Association of Apprentices

    David started his career as an apprentice in an education technology company at sixteen years old. Seven years after successfully moving into full-time employment from his apprenticeship, David became one of the UK’s first digital marketing entrepreneurs in the early 1990’s, scaling an agency working with global brands such as Intel, Microsoft, and Unilever.

    Today, David works on the Executive Team of the Association of Apprentices, leading on the technology innovations and partnerships that are helping UK apprentices receive additional support during their apprenticeship. As a past apprentice himself, David is passionate about ensuring all apprentices have everything they need to move beyond their apprenticeship into successful careers.

    Nominations are now closed

  • Webinar: Flying high: from apprentice to FC at Luton Airport

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 26, 2023

    As part of Enrichment Week 2023, we recently held a webinar with guest speaker, Pete Cave, who discusses his career journey from an apprentice to group financial controller at Luton Airport.

    Event panellists

    Pete Cave, Group Financial Controller, London Luton Airport Association

    Group Financial Controller for London Luton Airport Association, Pete Cave, led the webinar to highlight his career journey so far. Pete previously qualified with AAT and the ICAEW, and has recently become a fellow (FCA).

    He has over fifteen years of experience working in the accountancy sector in various roles. Pete worked at Baker Tilly for a number of years, gaining experience in their audit department and working on business improvement in the UK while travelling internationally with Baker Tilly International. He also led a team as part of an acquisition when working in industry prior to moving to the airport.

    Jenny Pelling, Apprenticeship Partnerships Director, Kaplan UK

    Joining Pete was Jenny Pelling, Apprenticeship Partnerships Director at Kaplan UK. Jenny’s career in education and apprenticeships has seen her involvement in designing programmes and enhancing provision for learners and employers’ benefit.

    She has strategic responsibility for apprentices’ career progression and their personal development. Jenny also leads “Brighter Futures,” at Kaplan which focuses on social mobility and providing opportunities for all.

    Key topics discussed

    Pete’s career and background

    Pete kicks off the conversation by introducing himself, his job role, and how he started his accountancy career with his AAT qualification. He develops on this by talking through his career journey so far and how his apprenticeship helped him to get to where he is today.

    Pete continues to explain how the skills he developed helped him to get his role at Luton Airport, which was supported by his interest in the aviation industry as well as finance.

    Day-to-day jobs

    Jenny asks Pete to give an example of what the ‘average day’ in his job role is like at Luton Airport. However, Pete’s explanation showcases the variety of jobs and tasks that he may do each day.

    He explains further that each day he ensures that his team is aligned and heading towards achieving their team and business objectives. He talks in more detail about the individual tasks that he and his team will do regularly, as well as the importance of understanding the business goals to ensure that his team is providing quality service.

    Speech marks

    “I’m a firm believer of getting out from behind a desk and getting involved in the wider business.”

    Curiosity and the transition from practice to industry roles

    Pete discusses his experience, including pros and cons that come with leaving audit practice and going into an industry role. He shares how it is important to work for a company that you’re interested in and excited to work for.

    Speech marks

    “It’s important to find an area that you’re interested in so that you have a passion for what you’re doing.”

    A dose of realism

    Jenny questions Pete on the ‘down days,’ and challenges involved in his job role that many professionals may usually avoid talking about. Pete highlights the internal and external factors that can make his job quite intense.

    He expands on this by providing examples of how he overcomes any challenges in the workplace.

    Advice for growing your career in the aviation and finance industry

    Pete provides advice, tips and personal knowledge on how finance professionals can grow their career, particularly in reference to the aviation industry. He also gives examples of what is important to research before an interview, and some of the answers that employers aren’t looking for in an interview.

    Continuing the conversation, Pete talks through a few of the skills and qualities that he has gained which helped him progress in his career, such as the passion and determination to achieve his goals.

    Taking that leap: industry and practice differences

    The differences between practice and industry are discussed, with Pete highlighting that the pros and cons will depend on the specific industry and the individual.

    He dives into the topic in more detail by using his experience to showcase the main differences between industry and practice while providing tips and resources on how to get into industry if you’ve previously worked in practice.

    Speech marks

    “Push yourself, try and get yourself out of your comfort zone and you’ll be amazed at what you can achieve.”

    Major challenges

    Jenny provides examples of major challenges in the UK and abroad while asking Pete whether they have any involvement in supporting the business in those cases. Pete explains how they always aim to put the customer first, and gives examples of how the finance teams will support the airport and its visitors in more serious incidents.

    Watch the full recording online

    You can catch up on the full discussion online now and get some inspiration on how you can progress your career.


    If you’re interested in an apprenticeship, browse our current vacancies now or find out more information.

    Interested in an apprenticeship?

    Find out more

  • Boost success: six ways that apprenticeships can help you achieve your business goals

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 18, 2023

    Apprenticeships can be an effective way to futureproof your business and build a more adaptable workforce who can endure change. Here are a few examples of how apprenticeships can contribute to achieving these goals.

    1. Access to diverse talent

    Apprenticeships can attract individuals from a wide range of backgrounds, including underrepresented groups, who may not have traditional educational pathways or work experience. By offering apprenticeships, you open doors for diverse talent and create opportunities for people who may have faced barriers to entry in the job market.

    This can bring fresh perspectives, varied experiences, and a more inclusive workforce to your organisation.

    2. Skills development

    Apprenticeships provide a platform for individuals to gain practical skills and industry-specific knowledge while working alongside experienced professionals. An essential element of an apprenticeship is that they must demonstrate how they are applying their learning within the context of your organisation and industry. This means you can shape them to meet your organisation's specific needs and cultivate a skilled talent pool. This not only helps address skills gaps within your organisation but also enables you to build a diverse pipeline of talented individuals who can contribute to your business objectives.

    3. Improved retention and loyalty

    Apprenticeship programmes often foster a sense of loyalty and commitment. As learners gain valuable skills and knowledge through their training, they are more likely to feel a strong connection to your organisation. By providing apprentices with a supportive and inclusive environment, you can increase retention rates and build a pipeline of future leaders who are invested in the success of your organisation.

    4. Enhanced innovation and creativity

    Diversity of thought and perspectives is known to fuel innovation and creativity within organisations. By attracting apprentices from diverse backgrounds, you bring in fresh ideas, unique problem-solving approaches, and different viewpoints. This diversity can lead to more innovative solutions, improved decision-making processes, and a competitive advantage in the marketplace.

    5. Support for apprentices

    With expert tutors and Talent Coaches, employers and apprentices will feel supported throughout their whole journey. As an employer, you won’t need to feel any pressure to ensure that your workforce are gaining the necessary skills to thrive. You will have regular catch ups with our coaches, while we will have a plan in place to ensure that you meet your business goals.

    Not only this, but the expert tutors will be teaching your apprentices everything that they need to know and exactly how this can be applied to the workplace. Regular assessments will take place to ensure that they are learning what is required, while you can reach out to your dedicated coach to raise any concerns or track the progress of your employees.

    6. Long-term talent pipeline

    Apprenticeships provide a structured pathway for individuals to enter your organisation and develop their skills, but also a viable way to develop your existing employees. By investing in apprenticeships, you can cultivate a long-term talent pipeline from which you can draw future employees. This strategic approach ensures a sustainable pool of skilled individuals who are familiar with your organisation's culture, values, and practices.

    Final thoughts

    Apprenticeships can be a powerful tool for boosting your talent pipeline and increasing diversity within your organisation. By providing opportunities to individuals from diverse backgrounds, investing in skills development, fostering inclusivity, and promoting innovation, you can create a workforce that is more representative, skilled, and aligned with your organisational goals.

    Interested in apprenticeships for your organisation?

    If you think apprenticeships might work for you, get in touch with our expert team who can help you find the right solutions for you, and your workforce.

    Upskill your workplace with apprenticeships

    Find out more

  • How your health and well-being impacts your learning: get involved in our step challenge

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 17, 2023

    When we’re not feeling great, either physically or mentally, studying can fall by the way-side - but how much does our health actually impact our ability to learn?

    We looked into it and it’s really interesting to see just how much it can affect us. Read on for more insight.

    The science - exercise can help learning

    An eminent Havard professor researched the connection between exercise and the brain, and discovered strong evidence that aerobic exercise physically remodels the brain for peak performance on all fronts. Dr John J Ratey found that exercise improves learning on three levels:

    "First, it optimises your mind-set to improve alertness, attention, and motivation; second, it prepares and encourages nerve cells to bind to one another, which is the cellular basis for logging in new information; and third, it spurs the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus."

    In short, not only does exercise help the brain get ready to learn but it actually makes retaining information easier. So that’s the science - but what can it mean for you? And what can you do to boost your learning through health and well-being?

    Eat well to boost your brain

    Many of us skip breakfast, or eat a super heavy lunch - both of which can cause a slump in concentration. It’s important to be properly nourished throughout the day, especially when trying to study. We’re more alert, can concentrate better, remember more, and have increased cognitive processing ability when we’re properly fed.

    Snack and junk food aren’t the best - they’re high in calories and high in sugar and fat - we all know this, that’s why they’re so yummy. But they’re not good for you if you’re trying to study and take in new information.

    Top brain food

    Berries - rich in lots of compounds that may improve learning and academic performance*. Grab a handful or add to a smoothie to get a boost.

    Citrus fruits - great for brain health, similar to berries. Again they have a range of compounds that may have the ability to promote learning and memory, as well as protect nerve cells from injury, therefore warding off mental decline*.

    Dark chocolate - yes, believe it or not, chocolate can reduce mental fatigue, boost memory, and improve reaction time - in moderation of course!

    Nuts - packed full of essential nutrients and vitamins to boost brain health. They’re a great study snack as they can keep you fuelled through marathon study sessions. They may also have an impact on reaction time and improve brain function. Remember though that nuts can be high in calories so consume in moderation.

    Eggs - often referred to as nature’s multivitamin as they contain so many nutrients that can help our brain function. For example, selenium - this is involved in coordination, memory, cognition, and motor performance. Eggs also contain choline that’s needed for brain development, and acetylcholine, which is necessary for memory storage. Clever eggs.

    Fish - full of omega-3s, essential fats that are important for brain health. Many studies have shown the link between fish and improved mental performance.

    There are loads of other foods that can help, including avocados, beetroot, as well as red, green, and orange vegetables. Try them out and see what works for you.

    Exercise = brain power

    Physical exercise releases proteins in the brain that can help improve your memory and increase your cognitive performance. This is because the hippocampus, the area of our brain that is involved with retaining information, is incredibly responsive to these proteins. So whether you’re revising for an exam or listening to a tutor during a lesson, you’ll be able to take in and retain what you learn much more easily if you have been doing some regular exercise.

    It can also improve your mood as exercise raises your endorphin levels - it might be uncomfortable whilst you’re doing it, but afterwards you’ll feel amazing. Ever climbed to the top of a hill, vowing you’ll never do this again, but at the top feel elated? That’s a great mood boost, and can really help your mental health, as well as your physical health.

    Not only that, exercising can boost your energy levels. It might sound crazy if you're exhausted after a workout, but it’s true. Experts have found that there is a connection between being physically healthy and delivering a strong academic performance. This is because low-intensity exercise can give our energy levels a much-needed boost, which is perfect for when you’re studying long hours. Studies also prove that exercise boosts creativity and mental energy. So if you’re in need of a boost, it could be just a walk or jog away.

    Exercises for studying

    You don’t have to run a marathon, just 20 minutes can really boost your concentration. So how about one of these?

    • Gentle jog around a local park - get your nature fix at the same time
    • Walk around the block - get the heart rate up a little
    • Yoga - stretch your body and your mind
    • Short weight training session - get the muscles working as well as your mind
    • Tai Chi - meditation in motion
    • Cycling - nip out and back in 20 mins to get the heart going

    And there are so many others you can do - if you have any exercise machines at home such as a rowing machine or stationary bike, jump on them for 20 minutes before studying, or during a study break, and you’ll immediately feel the benefits.

    Get walking with our apprentice step challenge

    To help keep you all active, keep your body and brain motivated, and help your overall well-being, we have organised a charity step challenge for our apprentices.

    From 20 September to 4 October, we are challenging all apprentices and their employers to reach 105,000 steps within the two week period (around 7,500 steps a day).

    All money raised will go towards Mind, the mental health charity, and there will also be a prize awarded to the winner of the challenge.

    If you're a Kaplan apprentice or employer, register your interest via our online form before 15 September and we’ll be in touch with the next steps.

    Want more information about learner well-being?

    Have a look at our well-being page and our blogs - and if you need help or support, get in touch with the team who’ll be able to help you further.

    Register your interest to the step challenge

    Find out more

    * - Flavonoid-Rich Mixed Berries Maintain and Improve Cognitive Function Over a 6 h Period in Young Healthy Adults

    ** - Neurodegenerative Diseases: Might Citrus Flavonoids Play a Protective Role?

  • Still unsure whether an apprenticeship is right for you? Let the statistics do the talking

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 10, 2023

    Whether you’re a professional wanting to progress your career or looking to change careers altogether, or an employer looking to upskill the workplace, exploring an apprenticeship is a great option. The training will ensure that all apprentices have the knowledge and skills required to succeed and excel in their chosen industry while benefiting everyone involved.

    But if you’re still unsure whether this is the best route for you, we’ve brought together some useful statistics to show exactly how an apprenticeship makes a difference.

    Employment status

    Recently, 892 former Kaplan apprentices answered telephone questions about what they have been up to since completing their apprenticeship.

    • 99% of former Kaplan apprentices were in paid employment, self-employed or in higher education
    • 0.8% of former Kaplan apprentices were unemployed or looking for work
    • Just over 0.1% had taken time out to go travelling.

    Apprenticeship application to the workplace

    At Kaplan, we work hard to ensure that all apprentices and employers are supported throughout and provided with all of the necessary knowledge that they need for their career goals and aspirations. It’s not just about what you know, but how you apply it.

    We were pleased, but not surprised, to see former apprentices talking about the direct employment impact that their apprenticeship had.

    • 95% of respondents said that their time spent learning helps them to perform their current job better
    • 85% of respondents said that their apprenticeship helped them to get a pay rise or promotion
    • 78% of former apprentices said that their training helped to improve job satisfaction
    • 85% said that they have a clearer idea for their future employment.

    Benefits to the employer

    However, it’s not just the apprentices that felt the benefits. Through the survey, the former apprentices also noticed how it benefited their employers.

    • 76% said that they have made recommendations post apprenticeship which helped the business
    • 85% believe that they’ve helped to create a positive team spirit
    • 93% think that they are reaching goals and targets
    • 89% have taken on extra responsibilities
    • 94% have become more confident and competent employees.

    And if you’re still uncertain whether an apprenticeship is right for you or your business, browse through our Insight blog articles which feature testimonials from Kaplan apprentices, clients, tutors, Talent Coaches and more.

    Progress your career with an apprenticeship

    Find out more

  • From the British Army to a career in ICT: Peter Garrett's career change story

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 06, 2023

    We recently spoke with Peter Garrett, who has recently completed his training at Kaplan in the Level 3 Information Communications Technician apprenticeship.

    From spending most of his career with the British Army to seeking a new career in the world of IT and technology, Peter Garrett shared his experience with us. Let’s take a look at how he found his training.

    Can you tell us about your career so far?

    I recently retired from full service in the British Army after 23 years and then joined Defra as my second career. So my career so far has really only consisted of the total 12 weeks it's been of the ICT apprenticeship being delivered by Kaplan, and that's pretty much as far as my career has got so far.

    What made you go into this new field?

    I started off as a fleet manager in the army, which would include managing loaded trucks with drivers, but I then moved into the HR side. I took on responsibilities of the iHub in the army, which is essentially a complex helpdesk. So, I would be a SharePoint administrator and build SharePoint sites from nothing to fully functioning sites. From this experience, I really loved tech and I’m interested in tech and IT, so I wanted to do it full-time.

    I saw a Junior Cloud Engineer job role come up and I was looking to retire from the army, so I jumped into it as Cloud is an expanding area in the IT industry. And then the Level 3 ICT apprenticeship came from my new job role.

    What do your daily tasks look like?

    In this job, we are using Azure a lot. I’m basically going to become an Azure Administrator, so at the moment, I’ve been shadowing on-the-job tasks with external Atos engineers. As a business, Defra wants to grow their own team of experts so that knowledge, skills and expertise remain in the organisation whilst building on the skills and capability of internal talent.

    Was there anything that you found challenging during your apprenticeship?

    I found the Networking Essentials and Scripting Automation modules quite challenging. Some of the knowledge was quite new, or very new, to me. But a lot of other stuff I would easily pick up. However, the Networking and Scripting modules were much more in-depth and a bit challenging.

    But, the tutors were excellent, they were amazing. They would stay on a call for as long as you needed at the end of the day to go over the content. They also offered to put on extra sessions, and there were days where we would be self-learning but they were always available so that we could contact them if we needed to. They’d also set up ad-hoc meetings for extra support if we wanted it, so they were really good to us.

    Are there any soft skills that you’ve developed through the apprenticeship?

    There are a few that I’ve revised or reactivated. After having such a long career in the army, I think I’ve developed quite a lot of soft skills but maybe I haven’t used them all the time, whereas now I require them more.

    What are your plans for the future?

    The immediate future is to finish the apprenticeship and complete my portfolio. I’m also doing a number of other Microsoft fundamentals and Associate exams, so I need to study for them. I’m using Microsoft Learn, and have self-paced learning days where I’ll prepare myself for the fundamentals and associate exams which will include 104, Administrator, Microsoft 900 and other applications like that.

    I think the topics we covered on the apprenticeship are good building blocks. A lot of the modules certainly set you up well for a career in IT, like the cloud-based solutions and networking modules.

    How would you summarise your apprenticeship?

    On the whole, I would just summarise my experience by saying it's been very positive and thank you very much to my tutors. They've been amazing.

    Looking to upskill?

    Whether you are an apprentice or an employer, you can find more information about our Data and Technology apprenticeships on our website.

    For employers, feel free to get in touch with our team to find out more.

    For prospective apprentices, browse our vacancy page for opportunities in the data and technology industry.

    Discover our apprenticeship programmes

    Find out more

  • Career changer to Associate Director: Ben Caseley’s story of success

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 28, 2023

    We recently caught up with Ben Caseley, an Associate Director working in Leverage Finance for Lloyds Banking Group. He has rapidly progressed in his career over the past four years while collecting a few impressive awards along the way.

    For someone who doesn’t consider himself an academic person, Ben has provided the perfect example of how far hard work and dedication will take you.

    A change of career

    Ben has now worked in the banking industry for eight years. However, he didn’t start his career straight after full-time education. Off the back of completing his A Levels, Ben spent some time working in the hospitality industry.

    He later went on to join Lloyds Banking Group's Retail division, this was the first step towards his professional career. Whilst in this division he started a Level 2 Providing Financial Services apprenticeship. However, after a year he moved to a risk analysis-based role, completing financial crime and counter terrorist financing disclosures to the National Crime Agency on behalf of the business.

    Ben worked in the area for over three years before he was introduced to the Level 6 Financial Services Professional Apprenticeship with Kaplan.

    Speech marks

    “It was daunting at first. I was around 24 so I hadn’t been in education for a while, and it was a totally different career opportunity.”

    From starting the apprenticeship, Ben has seen the benefits of his growing knowledge, being promoted from an entry-level apprenticeship Analyst role to Associate, and now Associate Director.

    Award winner

    Aside from Ben’s clear career growth, his hard work during the studying element of his apprenticeship has certainly not gone unnoticed.

    His trophy cabinet is truly representative of what you can achieve when you are fully committed:

    • 2020 Hutton Prize for Professional Ethics. Ben achieved the highest mark in the Chartered Banker Professionalism and Ethics module.
    • 2021 Bank Strategy, Operations and Technology subject prize. Ben achieved the highest mark in the Chartered Banker Bank Strategy, Operations and Technology module.
    • 2022 Sir Bruce Pattullo prize. Ben gained the highest mark in all modules in the Advanced Diploma in Banking and Leadership in a Digital Age.

    At each juncture he has been “surprised, but very grateful” to have been recognised for his efforts and commitment to his studies.

    Speech marks

    “I was happy with the grades I achieved in school but honestly, I was never at the top of the class- which goes to show you what an apprenticeship can help you to achieve. However, I do think it’s also down to commitment, time and the effort you’re willing to put in.”

    Ben shared his top tip which helped him in achieving these fantastic milestones. He explained, whilst Kaplan offers a fantastic and extremely valuable tutor in support of the apprenticeship, he would be finishing his assignments well ahead of the deadlines:

    “As soon as the questions were published, I would start my assignments straight away. I understand that not everyone would approach the assignments in this way, but I really just wanted to make sure that I really focused on ensuring I had plenty of time to complete the assignment to the best of my ability. Especially when working a complex, full-time job. This usually ended up with me finishing the assignments as other people started.”

    Climbing the ladder of success

    Ben found that he was struggling to progress his career in the manner he wanted, and therefore opted to “take a leap into an apprenticeship and hope for the best; it was the best decision I’ve made in my career. I would encourage others to do it, regardless of age. Especially if they’re struggling to progress.”

    “If I looked back at my 19-year-old self starting in the industry, I don’t think I’d recognise who that is now. When I look back, I can see I’ve grown so much as a person, and my capabilities now stretch even further than I could have ever imagined. This is thanks to the apprenticeship and the support of my employer (and colleagues), both of which have been pivotal in helping me to develop.”

    It’s clear to see how the apprenticeship has opened up career progression opportunities for Ben. However, it’s not just his work life that has improved. Ben highlighted that “you get an idea of how an apprenticeship can help you progress into a higher position. But it’s had an advance on life too. It opens up your horizons to what you can do outside of work as well. It’s definitely enhanced my quality of life and the opportunities available to me.”

    Through the apprenticeship, Ben has found himself becoming a much more advanced and competent person with a healthy work/life balance. Thinking about the future, he is looking forward to getting more comfortable in his current role and embracing his new promotion.

    Speech marks

    “There are still many things to learn and experience.”

    And we’re very excited to see where his career takes him in the future.

    Are you interested in an apprenticeship?

    If you’re looking to progress your career, boost your skills, and gain better satisfaction, then an apprenticeship may be exactly what you need. Browse our current vacancies, or read more about how you can talk to your current employer to support your apprenticeship training.

    Progress your career with an apprenticeship

    Find out more

  • It’s never too late to change your life: Sally Lane’s inspirational journey

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 20, 2023

    If you’re looking for some inspiration today, look no further than Sally Lane. After years in a role, knowing only the basics about managing data and Microsoft Excel, Sally chose to extend her knowledge through an apprenticeship programme with Lloyds Banking Group. Little did she know the hard work, dedication, and emotional rollercoaster that she was to embark on would change her life.

    Growth, resilience, and determination are just a few words that are personified in the form of Sally and her character. She represents exactly the reasons why Kaplan works alongside Lloyds Banking Group to support apprenticeships and career changers.

    Sally agreed to speak to us about her experience, sharing some useful tips and guidance as a career changer herself.

    Right place, right time

    Sally has worked for Lloyds Banking Group for around 24 years. But after her children finished studying and started their own careers, she knew she wanted more out of her day job.


    Although she was using her capabilities the best she could, there was a skills gap that needed to be filled which would allow Sally to grow and add more value within her role. That was when she was introduced by Lloyds Banking Group to the Level 3 Data and Insights apprenticeship.

    The timing couldn’t have been better. Not only was Sally open to the idea of upskilling, but she was also taking on new, more advanced, responsibilities while a colleague was on maternity leave.

    Speech marks

    “Because I’d taken on those additional responsibilities, the apprenticeship came at the right place at the right time.”

    Back to basics

    Although Sally’s story is a successful one, it certainly wasn’t all smooth sailing. She had worked in the industry for over twenty years but had to return right back to the start of her education and resit her maths and English exams:

    “I took the CSCs in 1986 or 1987. So, although I had the qualifications, they didn't convert to the current day GCSE qualification, which means I didn’t hit the minimum criteria for an apprenticeship.”

    Retaking these qualifications added more pressure alongside taking on more advanced responsibilities at work, attending classes and studying in her own time. This meant that the start of the journey was incredibly challenging.

    However, despite her fears, Sally discovered that the reality was very different to what she expected. After initially thinking that she would be on an apprenticeship and functional skills course filled with those who had just left full-time education, the number of learners who were over the age of 30 was surprising.

    Speech marks

    “It’s not that they weren’t capable, it’s because times have changed.”

    She explained to us the type of people that her peers were: “There were a lot of people my age or similar. You could also tell that a lot of them had good, highly skilled, or high-paying, jobs. It’s not that they were there because they weren't capable, it’s because times have changed.”

    Hard work pays off

    After a lot of time, hard work, and dedication, Sally awaited that final call regarding her end-point assessment. At that time, she believed that there were some exam questions that she could have answered better, so she’d be proud if she scraped by with a passing grade.

    Nevertheless, she discovered that she was awarded a Distinction (the highest grade you can get) and was extremely proud of herself. But it’s not only the grade that mattered, Sally also found that she could apply everything that she had learnt to her job role.

    “I was able to use my new knowledge in a big work project. I could apply the formula training and work out the difference in pounds, pence, and percentages using a big IF formula in Excel.

    I wouldn’t have been able to do that in the past. I would just look at the formula, see a bunch of numbers and think, “What is that?” The difference now is that I can even look at someone else’s formula and understand it, replicate it, or even tweak it.”

    Despite getting such a great result, she appreciates the hard work that it took to get to where she is today:

    “If you don’t put in 110%, you won’t have the same experience as me. Yes, it’s been hard and it was challenging throughout, but you also need to speak up and ask for help.”

    And while there were times that Sally felt that she was the only person struggling, she found that having a strong support network across Lloyds Banking Group and Kaplan, including apprenticeship mentors and peers in similar positions, was instrumental. Sally was never afraid to use these support networks, ask questions and seek advice where needed, which ultimately helped her to succeed and understand how to effectively apply her learning to her work.

    Speech marks

    “There’s no such thing as a stupid question, just a simple answer.”

    A new woman

    Although Sally started her apprenticeship to gain new skills and knowledge, she found that it helped her to grow personally as well as professionally.

    She shared some stories with us about a few of the times she noticed her growth.

    “I was once on a work call and someone was presenting a process but wasn’t explaining it correctly. They were more senior than me, so weren’t as close to the processes as I was. I felt that I had more technical knowledge, so I asked if I could take over and explain it a bit better, and this led to me taking over the presentation.

    That would have never, ever happened before the apprenticeship.”

    Speech marks

    “I know that I can do it.”

    She continued to share her hopes for the future, “I’m hoping to stay in root cause analysis but I’m open to anything, as the business is far greater than my little area. I want to step up to those higher grades, and I know I can do it.

    In the past, I would offer to help out, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to take accountability for the higher responsibilities as I didn’t think I was ready. But now, I am ready. I’m doing the work and I want to do that work.”

    Life changing apprenticeships

    Sally is a great example of someone who has taken advantage of all of the support, training and new knowledge taught for her apprenticeship, but we can’t take the full credit. Sally worked extremely hard and didn’t give up when times got tough, and now she’s a whole new person.

    If you want to change your career, grow your confidence, and become a new person, all while upskilling, an apprenticeship is the place to start.

    Browse through our apprenticeship programmes today.

    Looking to upskill your workplace? Employers, if you are hoping to enrol new apprentices, get in touch with the team for more information.

    Need to find an apprenticeship programme? Browse our vacancies page with the most recent apprenticeships available, or read more about how you can convince your employer to fund your training.

    Interested in an apprenticeship?

    Find out more

  • Kathy Walton reveals how to become a CEO, her family life and background

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 01, 2023

    The second episode of our new YouTube series, Career Goals, is now available to watch, and it features a very special guest - Kaplan UK CEO, Kathy Walton.

    In this episode of Career Goals, host Kelsey Haslam and Kathy Walton discuss all about Kathy’s career history and background so far, including how she got to her current position as Kaplan UK CEO.

    This engaging, quick-witted, and eye-opening episode emphasises that nothing is impossible to reach when working towards your career aspirations, and even people in highly commended job roles can still be just ordinary people from humble backgrounds.

    Key topics discussed


    Kathy talks about her role as a CEO, what this entails and how she worked her way up to this job role.

    She highlights how she started as a student striving to be a tutor at Kaplan but was soon taking on plenty more responsibilities before naturally progressing to become the CEO of Kaplan Financial UK.

    Kathy also reflects back to her roots. She was raised in Bolton and a big football fan, and references this in more detail to showcase how this passion helped her to get to where she is today.

    Never have I ever

    We get to know more about Kathy, her experience and general views while playing a game of Never have I ever. The truth comes out and we find that even the CEO of Kaplan UK hasn’t always been perfect in job interviews!

    Digital stories

    Kelsey asks Kathy to think of a number that’s significant to her. The conversation that follows helps us understand a lot more about Kathy’s personality, her background and how just one number can help shape someone’s views, lifestyle, or career.

    Industry myths

    Kelsey reads out a variety of statements that can be considered ‘myth’ or ‘fact’ to find out Kathy’s views.

    The discussion that follows reveals Kathy’s views on subjects such as economics, whether university is essential to become a CEO, and the characteristics that make a successful CEO.

    Final thoughts

    Kathy answers the closing question: what does ‘career goals’ mean to you?

    Watch the full episode

    The full episode is now available to watch on our YouTube channel. Remember to like, comment, and subscribe so that you never miss an episode with our exciting guests.

    Start your career journey

    Like everyone, Kathy had to start from somewhere. If you’re looking to go into the accounting and finance industry, have a look through our professional qualifications.

    Alternatively, if you believe an apprenticeship is the best route for you, you can browse through our vacancies or read more about how to talk to your employer about starting an apprenticeship.

    If you’re still unsure about where to begin, contact our Student Services Team on 0161 259 7400 or at

    Subscribe to Career Goals and never miss an episode


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