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  • Kaplan apprentices shortlisted for the 2021 BAME apprenticeship awards

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

    Shortlist

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

    Accounting and finance category:

    Omolade Ojo - Lloyds Banking Group

    Prem Manimaran - PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

    Tianna Oti - RSA

    Melissa Boadu - Jigsaw Business Solutions Ltd

    Judges choice:

    Brian Kasanda - EY

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

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

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

  • Top 4 biggest myths about studying Data Analytics

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 20, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I need a huge budget

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

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

    And it’s never been more affordable.

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

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

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

    I need “big data”

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

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

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

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

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

    Data Analytics leads to job losses

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

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

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

    Final thoughts

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

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

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

    For more information please see our data analytics course page.

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

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

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 29, 2021

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

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

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

    What new programmes are launching?

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

    They are:

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

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

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

    Jason Moss, Director of Digital Apprenticeship development, comments:

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

    Interested in one of our new digital apprenticeships?

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

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

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

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

    - Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 2021 Budget extends Apprenticeship deadline and boosts incentive

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 03, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Flexi-apprenticeships

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

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

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

  • Avoiding unconscious bias through blind recruitment

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 02, 2021

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

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

    What is unconscious bias?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Diversity also boosts performance

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Creating a professional CV for school and college leavers

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 26, 2021

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

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

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

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

    You should think of your CV as a living document.

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

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

    Your experience and skills

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

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

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

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

    Tailoring your CV

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

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

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

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

    Layout and formatting

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

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

    What not to do on your CV

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

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

    Free CV template

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

    CV template (Microsoft Word document) ›

    CV template (PDF) ›

  • Virtual Interview Top Tips

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 26, 2021

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

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

    What is a virtual interview?

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

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

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

    1. Test your tech

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

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

    2. Dress to impress

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

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

    3. Set the scene

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

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

    4. Limit your distractions

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

    5. Get a body language boost

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

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

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

    6. Be professional and be yourself

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

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

    7. Follow up email

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

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

  • How we remotely OnBoarded new cohorts during a pandemic

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 04, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

    June 2020 - Application forms

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

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

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

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

    July 2020 - Pathway planning

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

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

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

    August 2020 - Preparing for September

    Annual leave issues provided some cause for concern.

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

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

    September 2020 - Inductions

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

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

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

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

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

  • Lots to expect at the 2021 National Apprenticeship Week

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 04, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Register for free for the Build the Future webinar

    Partner Event - “CIMA Virtual Apprenticeship Conference - NAW2021”

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

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

    Register for free for the CIMA Virtual Apprenticeship Conference

    Online Careers Fair - “Leeds Apprenticeship Festival 2021”

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

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

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

    Register for free for the Leeds Apprenticeship Festival 2021

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

  • How KAAP is benefitting our apprentices

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 28, 2021

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

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

    Here’s a breakdown of each section.

    Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) update

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

    Here are some of the actions mentioned:

    We plan to promote EDI through…

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

    Website improvements workshop

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

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

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

    End Point Assessments feedback

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

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

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

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

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

    National Apprenticeship week 2021

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

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

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

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

  • The biggest myths on data apprenticeships…busted

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 12, 2021

    Research indicates that 53% of the working population do not have the digital skills needed for the workplace*. This is predicted to rise to 66% by 2030.

    A broad set of data skills are vital to support organisations in gaining a strategic advantage.

    Consumer data will be the biggest differentiator in the next two to three years. Whoever unlocks the reams of data and uses it strategically will win.

    - Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President of retail at Apple Inc

    A data apprenticeship is one way to bridge that skills gap. But there are still some myths out there around the subject, so we’ve broken down five of the biggest.

    Myth 1: Data skills are only for those who want a career in tech

    False. Data is disrupting a wide range of industries. It’s time to think of data skills as a company-wide need, rather than a tech-only function. For many companies, poor data literacy is creating an internal roadblock. Gartner expects that 50% of organisations lack sufficient AI and data literacy skills to achieve business value**.

    Information is the oil of the 21st century, and analytics is the combustion engine.

    - Peter Sondergaard, Gartner Research

    So if you’re in finance, retail, education, health, media, manufacturing, hospitality or anywhere data is generated or processed, you need to raise your workforce’s data IQ.

    Myth 2: I don’t have “Data Technician” in my job title so I can’t do the Apprenticeship

    False. Employees don’t need to have “Data Technician” on their business cards to do a Data Technician Apprenticeship. It’s about the work being carried out, not the job title.

    If the role calls for the ability to gather information, work with it, and communicate the results in the context of business priorities and outcomes, then data technician skills come into play.

    In HR, for instance, data can be used to improve the recruitment process by helping to identify and select new talent. It can track time-to-hire and job acceptance rates. And it’s a key tool in the analysis of pay scales and benefits, in meeting diversity and inclusion targets, and in measuring employee performance.

    On the sales side, data lets you drill down into business transactions and see what’s happening during interactions with customers. It helps you respond to market changes, competitor activity, and customer preferences.

    Data helps marketing teams to understand their target audience and develop more effective communications and campaigns.

    Product teams can draw on data in their design stage, looking at consumer behaviour to fine tune features and drive revenue. And accounting/finance staff can analyse information to identify trends and harness the data for commercial benefit.

    Data skills are vital in any role that uses data to make better business decisions – no matter what the job title or level of seniority. According to research by Accenture and Qlik, despite nearly all employees (87 percent) recognizing data as an asset, few are using it to inform decision-making***. Only 25 percent of surveyed employees believe they’re fully prepared to use data effectively.

    Myth 3: Apprenticeships are just for new hires or school leavers

    False. It’s a great opportunity to upskill or retrain existing staff at any level. If employees are collecting and processing data, an apprenticeship allows them to add value to their role, their team and the company. Apprenticeships are available to anyone if they are in a suitable job – new hires and school leavers included, of course!

    Myth 4: Training is expensive

    False. Programmes can be as little as £600 for non or marginal Apprenticeship Levy payers, and £12,000 for Levy payers. Contrast that with figures released by the Open University which reveal that UK businesses have spent £1.23bn in additional recruitment costs to tackle the digital skills gap, and the value of apprenticeships is clear to see****.

    Myth 5: It will take a long time to get started on a programme and see the impact

    False. Applications for the Level 3 Data Technician Apprenticeship from Kaplan can be reviewed and processed within weeks and there is a programme starting towards the end of February. The apprenticeship will typically take 18 months, but the learning is on the job so you should see changes and impact after three months.

    Get ahead of the competition

    Companies with lower levels of data literacy in the workforce are at a competitive disadvantage. One place you can turn to upskill and reskill your workforce is here at Kaplan. We are a leading education provider trusted by more than 3 million individuals and businesses across the globe.

    For more information about our Level 3 Data Technician Apprenticeship and its other digital apprenticeships, please request a callback, and someone from our team will be in touch.

    Sources
    *https://industrialstrategycouncil.org/sites/default/files/UK%20Skills%20Mismatch%202030%20-%20Research%20Paper.pdf
    **https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/a-data-and-analytics-leaders-guide-to-data-literacy/
    ***https://www.qlik.com/us/company/press-room/press-releases/data-skills-gap-is-costing-organizations-billions-in-lost-productivity
    ****http://business-school.open.ac.uk/sites/business-school.open.ac.uk/files/files/The_Open_University_Business_Barometer_report_2019(1).pdf

  • Accounting returns to WorldSkills for 2021 cycle

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 03, 2020

    Finding the UK’s best trainee Accountant

    Kaplan are once again on the hunt for talented accountants to enter the Accountancy Technician Skills Competition in 2021.

    We’re delighted to announce that we will be launching the first official National Accounting competition, in conjunction with WorldSkills UK, as part of their 2021 cycle.

    This team competition, which is aimed at apprentices, is designed to reflect the role of an Accountant and demonstrate the standards that are expected in the world of finance.

    There will be qualifying heats with winners of these proceeding to the WorldSkills UK LIVE finals.

    WorldSkills UK LIVE is the UK’s largest skills, apprenticeships and careers event which takes place annually. Competitors in the National Accounting Competition will be expected to demonstrate a range of applicable skills and competencies relevant to their field.

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

    As this is a team competition for up to 3 members, you may want to discuss this with your employer and colleagues early, to ensure you have sufficient time to get a team together and enter. Likewise, if you are an employer or an education institute, it’s worth considering if you have any apprentices/students you’d like to consider discussing this with in preparation for 2021’s competition.

    If your team makes it through to the National Qualifiers, you’ll go on to the National Finals held at WorldSkills UK LIVE in November 2021. Dates for our qualifiers are yet to be announced, so keep an eye out for updates.

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

    Richard Marsh, Apprenticeship Partnership Director, Kaplan

    We’ll be making further announcements in the New Year about entry requirements, registration deadlines and our regional heat dates and structure. Keep an eye out for further news, and for more information check out the Worldskills website.

    In the meantime, if you have a team in mind from your organisation, school or college, please contact Stephen Cunningham to discuss arrangements: stephen.cunningham@kaplan.co.uk

  • Making big strides into the digital space - launching our first-ever Digital Apprenticeship Standards

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 03, 2020

    In 2020, we announced that we were building for the future with the creation of three new apprenticeship standards in the digital space: Data Technician Level 3, Data Analyst Level 4 and Business Analyst Level 4. It is now due to launch.

    Built from the ground up by our Apprenticeship Development director Jason Moss and his team, this initial set of programmes have been designed as the first stage of our digital roadmap. They were created as a direct response to the critical skills and behaviours that our clients identified they needed most.

    They are applicable to a range of industries across the public and private sector, including: retail, distribution, defence, banking, logistics, education, health, media, manufacturing, hospitality and local government.

    Each of the standards lasts between 12 and 18 months, and have funding options for non-levy paying companies up to 95%. With top-class learning pathways and study options available, as standard, your learners will be guided through their apprenticeship by our experienced Kaplan Talent Coaches.

    We are now accepting learners onto all three programmes with cohorts expected to begin their studies in late February 2021.

    A Digital Roadmap

    We are planning a larger foray into this area in the near future, with a digital roadmap planned for throughout 2021 and into 2022. This includes further apprenticeships around Cloud Infrastructure, Cybersecurity and Software Development, as well as several short courses.

    These new apprenticeship standards are the first steps, for Kaplan, into a wider digital sphere that we know our clients will find valuable. We’ve already had a great response to what we've proposed for these standards and our other short digital courses, and look forward to having apprentices start their digital learning journeys with us in 2021.

    - Jason Moss, Kaplan Apprenticeship Development Director

    Support for learners

    As with all of our apprenticeship standards, these digital apprentices will receive the best-in-class training services on the market. We have an award-winning Talent Coach network, and map out relevant Skills and Behaviours that are required for each standard - which are linked to a range of online learning activities and work-based projects.

    We also have a proven track record of delivering successful and quality-driven apprentice programmes at Kaplan.

    Did you know?

    In 2020, we delivered a record number of Level 7 apprentices through to completion of their programmes, and we currently have learners in over one third of the Top 100 Apprenticeship employers of 2020-2021.

    Interested in a digital apprenticship?

    If your organisation is interested in digital apprenticeships and would like to discuss how these new standards could work for you, you can request a callback and our team will be happy to discuss this with you. 

    If you’d like to know more about the digital skills gap and how our apprenticeships will address this, watch a recent webinar held on this topic.

  • Success at the BAME Apprenticeship Awards 2020

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 19, 2020

    Kaplan was proud to sponsor the BAME Apprenticeship Awards 2020, which recognised the fantastic achievements of apprentices from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups, their employers, and learning providers.

    Hosted online, the live stream had all the glamour of a regular awards show and was a huge success. The event was a welcome reminder of the ongoing efforts of apprentices, as they studied throughout a difficult year.

    We were pleased to sponsor the Construction Services award category, presented by our Client Director Surju Kanani.

    Romario Cazaubon of the Mace Group took home the Apprentice of the Year award in this category, with Dionne Alder of Southwark Council and Pritam Bhojani of Atkins Global being Highly Commended. The Employer of the Year in this category was JS Wright & Co Ltd.

    Fantastic achievements all round.

    We were also delighted to see one of our own learners named as Apprentice of the Year in the Accounting and Finance category. Haider Ali, is a Level 7 apprentice with Kaplan and was delighted to be named as the winner:

    “Being crowned the national apprentice winner in the Accounting and Finance category feels incredibly overwhelming to say the least, particularly given the outstanding quality of competing entries.

    “Both my family back home in Pakistan and here in the UK are incredibly proud of what I’ve achieved, after my A-Levels, with my Kaplan apprenticeship at Rolls-Royce.

    “Growing up, I never had an abundance of ‘real’ models who looked like or came from the same background as me.

    “This victory isn’t just important for me but for every young boy/girl that will come across my story who may be Black, Asian or from any other ethnic minority that feels they can’t succeed in life because they aren’t always represented in society.

    “Your heritage is your power and absolutely nothing in this life is impossible.”

    Haider is currently studying towards the Level 7 CIMA Professional qualification with Kaplan. He had previously completed his Level 4 AAT qualification, and is on course to become a fully qualified Chartered Accountant.

    His employers, Rolls Royce, were also delighted by his win:

    “It comes as no surprise to us that he could win such an award, he is a great role model to apprentices of what can be achieved, well done!”

    A huge congratulations also to our partners EY, who picked up the Employer of the Year award in the Financial, Legal and Professional Services category. Their win reflected the company’s continued efforts in championing diversity and inclusion in their recruitment processes, and support for apprentices throughout their learning journey.

    We’d like to pass on our congratulations again to all the nominees and winners from the awards. We have a large number of talented apprentices from BAME groups, and look forward to supporting the work they do.

    You can still watch the awards ceremony if you missed it, or for more on Kaplan Apprenticeships, check out our Apprenticeship pages.

  • Dates announced for National Apprenticeship Week 2021

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 29, 2020

    The UK government has recently announced the dates for the 14th annual National Apprenticeship Week.

    Next year’s edition of the much-celebrated National Apprenticeship Week will take place between the 8th and 14th of February 2021.

    Running since 2008, this week-long celebration of apprenticeships has received widespread praise and engagement from apprentices, employers and providers. Events have traditionally taken place up and down the country, showcasing how apprenticeships have helped both businesses and people from across the employment spectrum.

    Focus for 2021

    Whilst a theme has yet to be announced, a key focus will be placed on the amazing work by employers and apprentices across the country over the past 12 months. It will also recognise how employers and providers have stepped up combat the challenges during these unprecedented times.

    It’s expected to have a different feel than in previous years, with a large emphasis on digital and virtual events. Kaplan will be no exception to this, and has plans for exciting activities and content during the week.

    Jenny Pelling, Apprenticeship Partnerships Director at Kaplan, comments:

    “The success of this year’s apprentices has been a remarkable and humbling achievement. As well as showcasing the positive impact they’ve made in the workplace, National Apprenticeship Week highlights the impressive dedication of employers in developing apprentices.

    The brand of apprenticeships is improving all the time and we are delighted to be helping boost the awareness during National Apprenticeship Week.”

    With learners in over one third of the top 100 Apprenticeship employers of 2020-2021, we pride ourselves on the quality of our apprenticeship programmes, and look forward to celebrating with our amazing apprentices and partners during National Apprenticeship Week 2021.

    Keep an eye out on our social channels and insights section for further information on our upcoming events for NAW 2021 in the coming months.

  • Building for the future, with new apprenticeships and short courses

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 17, 2020

    After 4 months of dealing with COVID, and the challenges it has created for our organisation, clients and industry, we have started thinking about the future.

    We all need some positivity in our lives, after all, 2020 has just been cancelled. So I’ve naturally had to postpone all the things I look forward to at the start of the year: summer holidays, birthday parties and spending time in the beer garden!

    Right, back to positivity!

    I am, however, fortunate to work with an insightful leadership team that recognised our need to enhance our internal skills so that we can deliver for our clients’ needs, across the entire digital learning space.

    Our new Digital Learning expert

    As part of this wider digital learning strategy, we recently recruited Jason Moss. Jason is a highly experienced Digital Learning expert, having a strong track record of designing and delivering digital courses.

    When I originally trained to be an accountant we did everything with a pencil and ETB paper, but now everyone was talking about Xero and the automation of transactions.

    Today I feel almost nervous when I speak to clients, given my lack of familiarity with the digital space.

    Fortunately Jason has been able to highlight a few stats that really highlight the need for me, employers, and society in general to get on board with upskilling with digital skills:

    • 33% of companies in the UK believe they lack Cybersecurity and Cloud-based Infrastructure skills within their business
    • 27% of companies in the UK believe they lack Data Management/Analytics skills within their business
    • Over 88% of companies identified a gap in digital skills already or in the future impacting on profitability, competitiveness, agility and productivity

    Our response to the data

    For the last few months, Jason has been talking to a range of businesses to identify the most critical skills and behaviours they need to plug the gaps. From his research, Data Analytics and Business Analytics were the skills businesses were overwhelmingly needing.

    In response to this, Jason and his team created the following apprenticeship programmes to launch in January 2021:

    • Level 3 Data Technician (24 month programme)
    • Level 4 Data Analyst (24 month programme)
    • Level 4 Business Analyst (18 month programme)

    There is a strong theme around data with these apprenticeships, but later in 2021 we will be launching further apprenticeships around Cloud Infrastructure, Cybersecurity and Software Development.

    Personally, I am super excited to talk to clients about these amazing new apprenticeships, without ever losing sight of the ongoing importance of our core Accountancy and Tax apprentice.

    New Tech short course

    Kaplan has also created a number of short courses, one in particular called New Technologies for Businesses. With around 40 hours of learning, it will give your Accountancy and Tax employees the perfect introduction and insight into the digital space.

    I’m in the process of covering the course, starting from the beginning. I need to become more knowledgeable as I have recognised that I could also really benefit from bridging my skills gap.

    I recently spoke to a training partner that is keen on asking every single partner and senior manager in the organisation to complete the course as a basic upskilling requirement.

    Apprenticeships for your company

    Do you want to enrich your Accountancy and Tax apprenticeship with Kaplan? Or do you want your employees to undertake one of the digital apprenticeships we are launching with all the benefits of using your levy funds to obtain the benefits?

    We are now in a position to deliver this to your organisation and apprentices.

    With many endless possibilities to change your employees’ digital skills, is it time to have a conversation to create that proactive plan so your organisation can get ahead?

    Surju has worked at Kaplan for over 11 years, initially as a tutor and is now a Client Director. He specialises in helping accountancy firms deliver effective apprenticeship solutions to allow their workforce to grow and develop.

    If you feel a consultation would help you and your organisation, please feel free to contact him.

  • English Apprenticeship incentives - Government support for businesses

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Sep 03, 2020

    In light of the pandemic, the Prime Minister introduced the new ‘English Apprenticeship Guarantee’ - which is a series of incentives for employers and apprentices alike.

    Here we break down these new opportunities:

    The guarantee includes:

    • £1,000 for providing unpaid work-experience for a Trainee
    • £1,000 for taking back a Furloughed worker
    • 6 months wage subsidy for hiring an unemployed young person (Kick-start)
    • A payment of £2,000 or £1,500 for taking on an Apprentice (until end Mar ‘21 only)
    • 90 to 100% funding for your Apprentice’s training course

    A payment of £2,000 will be made to employers who recruit an Apprentice aged 16-24 and £1,500 for those aged 25+. This is in addition to the existing £1,000 payment for hiring apprentices aged 16-18.

    There is no employer size limit and no limit to the number of incentives you can claim.

    These new incentives are in addition to the existing support:

    • Employers will still pay for training via their ‘levy’ or if not a levy payer then they will contribute 5% of training costs, unless they employ less than 50 people and take on a 16-18 year old (when the 5% is not required)
    • There will still be rebate of employer National Insurance contributions for Apprentices aged under 25

    What you spend the incentive money on is completely up to you. You might use it to provide extra support or mentoring or just to offset your employment costs. 

    How many more Apprentices will this generate?

    HMT say they made 100,000 Apprenticeship incentive payments available, so there should be no shortage.

    For comparison there were just under 50,000 starts for under 19s between August and December 2019 and 250,000 for all ages.

    More realistically though, this is about preventing a collapse in opportunities this year rather than an increase in numbers.

    However we will have to see any new Apprenticeship roles being advertised soon or potential applicants will be on courses in colleges and it will be too late for this summer’s education leavers.

    The return on Apprenticeship investment

    There are many good reasons to create Apprenticeships. They can be used to increase social mobility and diversify workforces or to retrain for technological advances.

    However at their core Apprenticeships are based on creating Returns On Investment (ROI) and there is no evidence of any large-scale Apprenticeship programme lasting for the long-term if these returns are not clear to all parties.

    Overview of relevant terms:

    Apprentice

    Invests their time and effort. Accepts a potentially lower short-term wage in return for skills and experience, with the expectation of increased future earnings and career prospects.

    Employer

    Invests in the individual with the expectation of future productivity / profit / other returns

    State

    Regulates for quality, equality of opportunity and invests in the core Educational costs with the expectation of increased future tax returns.

    Education provider

    Invests in course materials, facilities and tutors with the expectation of profitable outcomes

    These new incentives recognise that it is employers that create jobs (inc. Apprenticeships) and so it seeks to boost their ROI, by making their return both larger in size and quicker to realise.

    Therefore increasing the attractiveness of the investment and (hopefully) the number of investors.

    The introduction of the Levy had the same intention. It forced larger employers to invest in Apprenticeships; and then to try and recoup that investment. But crucially the Levy allowed employers to decide who they wished to train, and employers do not always prioritise younger workers or job seekers. The new incentives have sought to address this by making these schemes age restricted.

    Understanding the ROI of Apprenticeships in the UK

    The famous German and Swiss Apprenticeships systems have become part of the fabric of those societies; but they are supported by employers there because they deliver a well understood and proven profit.

    The ROI of Apprenticeships is much less well understood in the UK. As Hogarth noted in the seminal Apprenticeship ROI 2010 study:

    In countries such as the UK, where the work-based VET pathway is less well established than in, say, Germany...the emphasis is very much upon communicating the potential economic benefits to employers and young people to be derived from participating in this type of training.

    - Warwick’s Institute for Economic research (IER) 2010

    All of this is as true now as it was in 2010.

    A recent (2019) IER study into the ROI that employers of Level 3 Accounting Apprentices can expect found that initial costs of employing an Apprentice can be up to £14,615 in year 1.

    This becomes a net benefit ranging from £67 (for a levy payer recruiting an existing employee as an apprentice and retaining them for five years) to £25,784 (for a non-levy payer recruiting a new employee as an apprentice and retaining them for eight years). This demonstrates that there is a clear and tangible business benefit to employing an apprentice.

    These COVID response incentives will cushion these initial costs and then only increase the long-term return that employers might expect to see. This hopefully gives them the confidence to recruit now and provide the opportunities that this summer’s Education leavers desperately need.

    Want to know more?

    Please see our business pages for more information about apprenticeships. Or you can watch our webinar on the subject, which goes into more detail.

    This article was sourced from our Apprenticeships Director, Richard Marsh.

  • Zak’s ambition knows no bounds

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 27, 2020

    Zak Barwell is our recently award-winning AAT apprentice. Despite facing incredibly difficult circumstances, he progressed swiftly - receiving 95% in his End Point Assessment.

    Why did you choose the apprenticeship route, Zak?

    I wasn’t phased about going down a slightly different route into work.

    After consideration, I turned down a university offer as I felt the apprenticeship route could be more beneficial. All my friends were going off to uni, but I compared the two options and felt like this was a better route into the accountancy world.

    I felt that real world experience is really important and I like the idea of studying whilst learning. Maybe for other subjects uni is more appropriate, but an apprenticeship seemed right for me.

    Only for graduates

    At my company, however, they would usually hire graduates for roles like this, so I couldn’t apply. However I approached my boss and asked to do the competency test to get onto it.

    As the test was designed for graduates, and I wasn’t, I wasn’t expected to do well. And I was right, I didn’t. But by showing an eagerness and desire to improve myself, they gave me the opportunity anyway.

    Accountants tend to be money focused, and this is one way to get qualified without carrying loads of debt

    - Zak Barwell

    Company trailblazer

    I was the first apprentice they ever hired - as it was usually only ever reserved for high achieving graduates. So you need to know your stuff and it’s very competitive. I was having to prove myself every day.

    While on the course I learnt so much, and quickly got given more responsibilities. Now, just 18 months later I am starting to manage my own projects, I’m client facing and leading meetings. I’m really progressing my career.

    You studied for your Advanced Level (Level 3) whilst working full time. How did you find that?

    Yeah, the work/life balance took a bit of getting used to.

    Luckily I would have study days, where I could leave the office and focus solely on my education. It meant that when I came back, I would be able to put what I learnt into practice.

    OnDemand was also great for managing it all too. It would allow me to get into a study routine.

    I think OnDemand is great. It’s good for resources and the knowledge checks, which help you know where you’re up to. Plus you’re able to revisit any topics as many times as you want, in case you lack understanding.

    But my company have been great too. They’re really flexible with the days that I choose to take off for study. Factors behind my success have been the combination of my flexible company and the support offered by Kaplan, particularly the talent coaches, throughout my apprenticeship.

    What’s next for you?

    I want to continue my studies so that in 1-2 years I will have finished AAT Professional Level (Level 4). After that I want to study ACA and become chartered in 3-4 years. This should hopefully see me reach manager level at work.

    Worldwide ambition

    Hopefully in the next 5 years I will have my studies finished and then I can think about what to do next. I’ll have so many opportunities available - around the world - once I’m a chartered accountant.

    I’d say I am quite money motivated, so could potentially look at further qualifications. If I end up opening my own accountancy practice, I want to offer a wide range of services, so I better learn as much as I can!

    What would you say to someone who was thinking about doing an apprenticeship?

    I would say that if you are considering routes into accountancy and studying AAT then think about the apprenticeship option. Accountants tend to be money focused, and this is one way to get qualified without carrying loads of debt, so it’s financially very efficient!

    And as I was working at the same time, I progressed quickly in my job because I was using my new knowledge straight away.

    It’s like having your work experience all paid for and being fast tracked all at once. At the end of your qualification you come out totally prepared. I even feel like it’s prepared me for the world better than a degree.

    Final thoughts

    Ultimately though, it comes down to the individual.

    For some, the uni-life experience is huge. I missed out on that, as I was living at home and working. But, personally, I don’t regret it. I would not be where I am without the path I chose.

    I have nearly 4 years work experience at 21. Not a bad start.

  • AAT Award win for determined apprentice

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 23, 2020

    One of our AAT apprentices has been recognised for his incredible effort and results.

    The 2020 AAT awards recognises the contribution of training providers, celebrating inspiring student journeys and highlighting the dedication of AAT tutors.

    Zak Barwell is a 21 year old Kaplan apprentice who, despite incredible personal challenges, excelled and progressed through his AAT course.

    Personal triumph

    Through sheer grit and determination, he managed to stay focused on his apprenticeship and channel his energy into making that aspect of his life a success.

    For instance, Zak was awarded 95% in his End Point Assessment, which is an astonishing achievement.

    His Talent Coach described him as ‘determined, passionate and an exemplary apprentice that should be recognised for being so conscientious and willing’.

    Congratulations Zak!

  • Kaplan apprentices shortlisted for the 2021 BAME apprenticeship awards

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 27, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

    Shortlist

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

    Accounting and finance category:

    Omolade Ojo - Lloyds Banking Group

    Prem Manimaran - PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

    Tianna Oti - RSA

    Melissa Boadu - Jigsaw Business Solutions Ltd

    Judges choice:

    Brian Kasanda - EY

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

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

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

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