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  • First Point of Contact: Talent Coach Interview

    by Lewis Charlesworth | May 24, 2018

    Kaplan’s talent coaches offer direct support for our students - providing a first point of contact, regardless of the query.

    The student may face technical challenges, may wish for more tutor support, or might face more personal challenges.

    Regardless of circumstances, our talent coaches are there to ensure that our students achieve the goals they set out for themselves. 

    Watch this interview to see the kind of support that is provided. 

  • Why You Should Take On An Apprentice

    by Lewis Charlesworth | May 17, 2018

    Have you thought about taking on an apprentice, but never quite made the decision?

    Maybe it’s time to think again…

    Accountancy and Tax Apprenticeships have changed. The benefits to your company are now much clearer to see. In this short clip we show how they can make that positive impact.

    With the Government’s financial incentives, there’s never been a better time to take on an apprentice.

  • A Guide to Level 7 Apprenticeships, in 6 Minutes

    by Lewis Charlesworth | May 17, 2018

    For employers considering Level 7 Accountancy & Tax Apprenticeships, and with little time to spare, we have developed a 6 minute guide for you.

    This guide covers the commercial and practical factors when deciding to take on a Level 7 apprentice.

    We’ve broken it down into 6 small chunks:

    • Overview
    • How the Apprenticeships are funded
    • How long it will take
    • Exemptions, and how to convert existing trainees onto the programme
    • What is the 20% rule? How your business can manage the training element
    • Next steps.

    Watch the 6 minute clip to get all the information you need.

  • Did you know you can now transfer your Apprenticeship Levy to other employers?

    by Amy Nicholson | May 17, 2018

    The Education Skills and Funding Agency (ESFA)  have recently confirmed plans to introduce enhancements to the Digital Account System from April 2018.

    Most significantly, levy paying employers will now be able transfer up to 10% of their levy pot to other employers (to be spent on Apprenticeship standard training in England).

    This is quite timely as we have  just learned that there is over £1bn sat unspent in levy accounts. So, anything that helps move money from the under spent Levy world to the under resourced non-levy world should be welcomed by us all.


    What is this about and what is it designed  to achieve?

    There are already several ‘10 percents’ in Apprenticeship funding.

    There is the 10% extra funding added to English levy payments to ensure that “employers can get out more than they put in”. In addition, there is also the 10% contribution for non-levy funding and the 10% of deprived areas attracting extra funding.

    However the ‘10% transfer’ was first suggested  in 2016 and was designed to allow larger employers to ‘support their supply chains’. However, from what we have seen so far there doesn’t seem to be any restriction as to whom employers can donate funding to.

    For example, it doesn’t look as if this is being restricted to agreements between large companies and just their suppliers. This is good news as no one needs more complexity when it comes to funding.


    In terms of what this is designed to achieve,  I don’t think that there is any longer a clear policy objective. Like so much that happens in our world, its origins have been lost in time and it is now being done because it seems helpful and progressive and because ‘we said we will do it’, so we will.

    The basics rules of the 10% transfer are that:

    • It can only be spent on ‘standards’ not Frameworks and is restricted those working in England
    • The specific standards have to be agreed as well as the rates
    • The receiving employer has to open a Levy account
    • All normal funding rules apply (i.e. Cap, Payment profile, Register etc)
    • To start with donations can only be made to 1 employer

    Who will want to do this and why? 

    So who would want to donate their funding, and who would want to receive funding. 

    Donor motivation:  

    I think there a few reasons levy paying employers would donate levy funding :

    • Levy utilisation: Many employers will find they don’t need all of their levy funding, especially if they aren’t growing as a business and headcount is frozen. So in a sense it won’t cost them anything to give away ‘excess’ funding that they have already paid. HMRC are going to pocket it after 24 months if no one uses it anyway.

    • Corporate Social Responsibility: This is a great chance to help communities locally. For example, a donor employer might make this funding available to an employer who hires local unemployed people and underrepresented communities or to help smaller businesses that want to expand.

    • Supply chain upskilling: It could be used by employers to encourage businesses that supply them to ‘do more’ training . For example, to better match technological advances or standards. Or to magnify the impact of the donor’s apprenticeship vision (we take on apprentices and so do our suppliers).

    • Cohort aggregation: Even large employers can struggle to create and fill a class and to make each standard viable for providers. This could be good way to find the ‘extra apprentices’ needed to enable a provider to create a course in a particular location.

    • Shared expertise: An employer with expert training staff or facilities, might use this as a way of sharing that expertise. And an ‘Employer-provider’ might see it as a way to create an income stream by supplying the training. Although, I think it would then make them a Provider (not and Employer-Provider) and I would always advise caution when it comes to paying yourself with public funds.

    720  x 405 final

    So, there’s  plenty of reasons why an employer might ‘donate’ but why might one want to ‘receive’?

    • Money: Not least of all saving the 10%  smaller-employer-cash-contribution. On the face of it there is potentially £20m PCM available for smaller employers.

    • Funding availability: Non-levy contracts values are very low and it is hard to find providers with funding – this is a potential solution – find an employer with cash instead! And it’s also a way for smaller employers to test the water with apprenticeships and the apprenticeship levy system.

    • Supply chain relationships: Perhaps focused on quality, technology or a shared vision and values.

    • Cohort aggregation: A chance to aggregate demand and make learning more viable – I could really see an SME adding a learner or two to a large hosts cohorts.

    • Access to expert training / facilities: As above

    Why wouldn’t you do this?

    So on the face of it there seems to be a few reasons why this could be a good idea.

    What are the potential negatives?

    • Single donations: At the moment you can only donate money to one employer – restricting options

    • Administration: This is the most likely road block I think. Which large levy paying employer is actually looking for additional Levy administration? With the possibility of employers one day also having to find and procure EPAs this could be a process too far. Of course, this is then also an opportunity for providers to offer their support services.

    • Change of relationships: Once an employer becomes a donor, a new form of agreement will be required between them and the recipient. Risk and reputation are put on the line.

    • State aid: Again, 10% of this counts as State Aid – please take your own legal advice here.

    So overall this is a very interesting and usual funding idea and I think the ESFA deserves credit for actually seeing it through.

    I do not know if it will remain an unusual experiment or become a bridge into something bigger, I guess its popularity and reputation (scandals kill experiments) will dictate that.

  • There’s room in the Apprenticeship ‘family’ for Level 2

    by Lewis Charlesworth | May 09, 2018

    Since starting teaching over 11 years ago, I’ve taught hundreds of students across a range of qualifications and from organisations large and small. I have many memorable teaching moments but one that always stands out is teaching an evening class in Bradford.  My students were from all walks of life, of all ages. Some had aspirations to obtain full Chartered status, others just wanted to pass these exams. But for each one, without exception, this qualification mattered to them – the achievement on passing it, a great one. And the qualification: AAT Level 2.

    So witnessing the fairly rapid decline in the value and importance of Level 2 Apprenticeships has been very disheartening. Back in December, OFSTED’s Deputy Director of FE and Skills, Paul Joyce, commented that he was very worried about the lack of development in new standards at ‘lower’ levels and the detrimental impact this would have on the recruitment of 16-18 year olds. 

    In contrast, more and more Apprenticeships are now being created at higher and degree levels. We champion the development of so many Apprenticeships at Level 4 and above and undoubtedly these have been a major factor in helping to position Apprenticeships on an equal footing to University, enabling firms to propose a truly compelling offer to bright young school leavers.

    But surely this rise in ‘higher’ level programmes didn’t have to be accompanied by the dismissal of Level 2 Apprenticeships as  ‘low level’ and therefore ‘low quality’ suggesting they are of no value and importance. This feels very short-sighted and misses the point that many of these programmes include or recommend professional qualifications that can lead to great things. Instead it only serves to perpetuate the snobbery surrounding Apprenticeships that so many of us in the sector are working hard to redress.

    Of more concern is that even when groups get the required employer support to create a Level 2 standard, the current funding levels proposed means it is very likely to be doomed from the start. To suggest that any Apprenticeship, that contains a recognised and respected Professional Qualification that genuinely adds value to the individual and business, can be delivered for just £2,000 is extremely worrying.

    B2C Ashgates 121

    Rather than dismiss Level 2, should we not be celebrating the opportunity for progression it can create. How aspirational to soon be able to celebrate the first apprentices who have worked their way through Level 2, all the way up to Level 7. Not everybody wants to start at Level 4, not everybody can start at Level 4. The University vs Apprenticeship debate isn’t relevant for everybody and surely that’s OK? Apprenticeships shouldn’t only be the preserve of high fliers.

    Bucking the trend of fewer ‘lower level’ Apprenticeships being developed, we welcome the news that the Level 2 Accounts Assistant Apprenticeship standard has recently been approved and congratulate those employers, providers and professional bodies who have championed the need for this essential addition to the range of Accountancy Apprenticeships available.

    Let’s hope it’s given a sensible funding band which will enable  thousands of aspiring students, young or old, to share the joy and pride of those I taught in Bradford all those years ago. If we truly want to celebrate all that’s good about Apprenticeships, let’s bring Level 2 back into the Apprenticeship family fold - we’ve missed you!

  • Is parent power the missing link for Apprenticeships?

    by Sharon Cooper | Mar 28, 2018

    At an event at the National Gallery in London celebrating Women in Apprenticeships, I listened to a very impressive young lady from EY speaking about how her decision to accept an Apprenticeship with a Big 4 Accountancy Practice was the only topic of conversation at the village Christmas party – her parent's friends genuinely shocked that she would ever consider 'not going to university'.

    It reminded me of a blog I wrote in 2015 entitled 'Don’t tell anybody but... my child is on an Apprenticeship', questioning how many parents thought Apprenticeships were a great thing, only 'not for their child'. In the same year Kaplan's research into School Leaver Recruitment* argued that the role of parents should not be overlooked when trying to change attitudes towards Apprenticeships.

    Did you know?

    The new Level 7 Apprenticeships lets people gain a qualification equal to a masters degree, in many industries. The new scheme is open to anyone, regardless of previous qualifications.

    At a number of events I attended during National Apprenticeship Week in early March 2018, it was very apparent that whilst there was acknowledgement that employers have really embraced the benefits of Apprenticeships and even schools and sixth form colleges are finally providing young people with more information about these alternative routes, it was still the challenge of reaching parents that proved the most difficult to overcome.

    A new study supports this view. According to research undertaken by Populus on behalf of the 5% club, 77% of parents agree that Apprenticeships are still given a much lower profile in society than university education. In addition, only 20% of parents felt they had enough knowledge to advise authoritatively on Apprenticeships as an option meaning university remains the 'easier' choice because parents are just given so much more information about it.

    However, maybe attitudes are starting to shift. Research carried out by Grant Thornton** in March 2018 found that 79% of parents agreed that Apprenticeships offered good career prospects. In addition to this, more employers are now recognising the benefits of engaging with parents at an early stage when showcasing their offers for school leavers. YBS is a great example. Their website features a parents Q&A section and parents are invited to attend open evenings to learn about career prospects at the firm. These events have senior buy-in from the firm, giving a powerful message to parents that their children's future careers are in safe hands.

    A change in attitude is just the tip of the iceberg; we still have a long way to go before Apprenticeships are on an equal footing to university. I am not arguing that we should be engaging in a debate as to which is the 'better' choice.

    Headlines such as 'Bright students should shun Oxbridge and opt for an Apprenticeship instead' may grab attention but this isn't helping parents receive impartial, easy-to-understand information, so that they feel empowered to help their children make the best and right decision.

    The fact remains that however much work employers put into their Apprenticeship offer, such as that provided by YBS, if more isn't done to help parents consider it, university, which isn't right for everybody, will always become the default position.

    Let's hope more is done over the next few years to improve the quality and range of careers advice and that soon there will be more interesting things to discuss at a Devon village's Christmas party than the 'radical' decision of a neighbour's daughter opting for an Apprenticeship over university.

    *School Leaver Recruitment: Engagement; Attraction; Assessment
    **Generation Apprentice

  • Development Days enhance Kaplan Apprenticeship programme

    by Sharon Cooper | Feb 28, 2018

    All training providers strive to offer something different. Here at Kaplan, we are no exception and we are constantly reviewing our offerings to ensure they really stand out in the market.

    Key features:

    The Levy applies to both public and private UK employers across all sectors with a payroll bill in excess of £3m a year. It's set at a rate of 0.5% of the total payroll and is collected monthly via PAYE.

    With 27 standards now making up our portfolio, one area we have been working on recently is: how we can enrich the learning experience for all of those learners undertaking Apprenticeships with us?

    With many of our learners now choosing to study their professional qualifications ‘online’, via our Live Online and OnDemand services their ability to interact with other learners and share ideas and thoughts can be restricted.

    So we teamed up with our Leadership and Professional Development team to create a series of unique Apprenticeship Development days, highly interactive workshops that focus on key skills and behaviours (found in all new standards) and their application in the workplace.

    Kaplan has now developed over 15 different workshops including:

    • Teamwork
    • Problem Solving and Decision Making
    • Managing Individuals
    • Business Writing Skills
    • Project Management

    These days are run throughout the country and at regular intervals providing a flexible opportunity to embed essential skills and behaviours and to meet and interact with other apprentices.

    Sarah Cordwell, a Senior Consultant with our Leadership team, discussed the workshops:

    Our sessions have one focus: to offer practical skills which can be immediately applied in the workplace. The sessions are fast paced, highly interactive and packed with energy.

    She continued, “From the very start, apprentices are expected to contribute, challenge and commit to key learning points. We believe that experiential learning - not chalk and talk - is the way to help develop positive workplace behaviours. And from our experience with apprentices to date, we can confidently say that they respond well to this style of delivery."

    But you don't just have to take our word for it. Here's some feedback from some of the apprentices who have taken part in one of our development days. 

    Samma Qayum, 2 Sisters Food Group 

    "The programme was great and really got me thinking of how I can change and be a better team leader as well as a better team member." 

    Hannah Kemp, Scottish Widows 

    "Yvonne was very friendly and made us all feel at ease from the get go. Her materials and way of delivering the training were very effective, sometimes long training days in a classroom can be exhausting and hard to keep focus by the end of the day but it didn't feel like this one bit with Yvonne." 

    Stephanie Hilson, Lloyds Banking

    "I enjoyed the session and the facilitator was very knowledgeable and made everyone feel at ease. There was opportunity for everyone to share experiences and support each other which was beneficial."

    Daniel Evans, Lloyds Banking

    "Simon's enthusiasm and passion really made for an excellent course and would strongly recommend." 

    To find out more about the development days Kaplan has to offer, please contact Tamar Fyne –

  • Upskilling your workforce can cost less than you think

    by Sharon Cooper | Feb 19, 2018

    Training and developing staff can be an expensive luxury. The cost of professional qualification training, combined with the time needed 'off the job' to train, can mean this type of expense is reserved for larger organisations with big training funds.

    Is there a cost-effective way to upskill your workforce?

    The growth of new Apprenticeship standards across a wide range of professional job roles coupled with the government funding up to 90% of Apprenticeship training, means opting to upskill your workforce costs a lot less than you think.

    Here are some common misconceptions about the cost of training that may be worth reconsidering:

    Professional Training is very expensive

    Exam fees, materials, and paying to learn in a classroom environment can be costly, with some full courses costing up to £18k.

    However, new Apprenticeship standards can make offering training to your staff much more affordable and many include the achievement of a Professional Qualification. If you're a non- or marginal Levy payer, up to 90% of the cost of the Apprenticeship will be funded by the Government. If you’re a Levy payer you could use your Levy to fund this training. Many qualifications are now covered within Apprenticeship standards including ACA (ICAEW), AAT, CIMA, ACCA, ATT, CTA, ILM, CIPD, CICM, CII, CFA and ICA making the cost of upskilling your staff much more affordable.

    Why hire an apprentice?

    • You can grow your team while keeping costs down
    • You can develop and mould them to meet your needs
    • They’ll add new skills and energy into your team
    • You’ll provide the opportunity to start a great career

    Funding is only available for new members of staff

    Apprenticeship funding was overhauled earlier this year, which has removed many previous restrictions on who can be eligible for Apprenticeship training. These new rules mean that as long as you can demonstrate a 'substantial training' need for that individual and the training they're receiving is different from training they've received in the past, then they should be eligible for training under the Apprenticeship route. This means that as long as somebody hasn't achieved an equivalent qualification in the past, they should be able to start an Apprenticeship. This opens up the route to employees of any age or background which makes offering training more equitable and fair amongst your wider workforce.

    Passing exams doesn't mean somebody can do their job

    A very common issue for employers is that passing exams doesn't make somebody good at their job. One of the key requirements of new Apprenticeships is that equal weight is placed on the achievement of core skills and behaviours such as teamwork, communicating and building relationships. This ensures that those on an Apprenticeship now receive well-rounded training really focusing on somebody's overall performance not just on their ability to pass exams.

    At Kaplan, all our Apprentices receive access to a vast e-learning library on key skills and behaviours and are invited to a series of practical development days delivered by expert trainers, all included within the Apprenticeship cost. In addition, it's often the case that where employers invest in wider training and development, employees are more loyal, leading to better retention.

    Study is very inflexible

    A further barrier to training is that study dates can be very inflexible and can present businesses with issues during busy periods. 20% of the time on an Apprenticeship should be spent in training and development, but how this is achieved can be flexible, working around your requirements. At Kaplan, we ensure that all the Apprenticeships we offer include flexible ways to study, including e-learning and live online sessions giving students, and you as the employer, more options in terms of when and where students study. Embracing flexible learning ensures that upskilling can be achieved without the pain sometimes associated with inflexible classroom delivery.

    We hope that the above has presented some arguments to counter the belief that training and developing your workforce is a costly and time-consuming exercise. Find out about the full range of Professional Qualifications and Apprenticeship standards offered by us.

    For further information about how this training could benefit your workforce, please speak to one of our expert team.

  • Micro Employers: Making Apprenticeships work for your business

    by Sharon Cooper | Feb 16, 2018

    Apprenticeships have gone through significant changes over the last 5 years with the introduction of new funding mechanisms and employer-driven standards, focused around job roles. However, for many micro-employers the relevance of these changes can seem remote.

    Firstly the new standards have been criticised by some for failing to include very small businesses in their design. Furthermore, there continues to be a myth around the bureaucracy of Apprenticeship funding which, understandably, can be very off-putting for smaller organisations.

    In this webinar we aim to dispel some of these myths and show how making use of Apprenticeships can have real business benefits for micro-employers.

    We will cover:

    • What Apprenticeships are and who can be eligible to undertake one
    • The range of Apprenticeships available and what the different levels represent
    • How funding works and extra incentives you may entitled to as a micro-employer such as, free funding for 16-18 year olds
    • How the process works for enrolling an employee onto an Apprenticeship scheme
    • Key considerations for managers responsible for apprentices
    • Recruitment support available to help you find new apprentices
  • Changes to Apprenticeships in 2017 in England

    by Kieron McDonnell | Feb 08, 2018

    In 2017, we saw a continued move away from Apprenticeship “Frameworks” to “Standards” in England with over 100 new Apprenticeships released across multiple job roles.

    Since May 2017,  we are only using new Standards and have focussed on Accountancy and Tax, Leadership and Management and wider Financial Services roles.

    The new standards offer a fantastic opportunity for apprentices to demonstrate professionalism,  and achieve technical competence through a professional qualification. Each apprenticeship standard has been designed by the relevant industry and focuses on the knowledge, skills and behaviours required for the job role.

    The old Frameworks are due to be closed down by 2020.

    Why hire an apprentice?

    • You can grow your team while keeping costs down
    • You can develop and mould them to meet your needs
    • They’ll add new skills and energy into your team
    • You’ll provide the opportunity to start a great career

    Apprenticeship Levy

    The introduction of the Apprenticeship levy in April 2017 saw a big change in how apprenticeships are funded, with large organisations now effectively paying for the system overall.

    Alongside the Levy, from April 2017, apprentices who are under 25  become exempt from employer N.I. charges.

    Many employers have taken the opportunity to hire new recruits and develop a diverse talent pipeline. Other employer have utilised the funding within areas of the business that have previously lacked training, such as management/entry level roles, or used the levy as alternative funding for mandatory professional qualifications.

    Funding Eligibility

    The wider offering of Apprenticeship standards has provided an opportunity for people to do an Apprenticeship at any stage of their career, from entry level through to senior roles.

    Apprenticeships have been designed to improve social mobility and standards and are now available from Level 2 to Level 7, which is the equivalent of a Masters degree*, and therefore provides development for most employees.

    Since April 2017, people with existing degrees in other subjects are now able to participate in the apprenticeship programmes.

    Greater Choice

    The number of Apprenticeships standards available is very broad (200+) and there are still another 300 in development, providing considerable training options for organisations to spend the levy pot.

    2018 and beyond

    April 2018 - plans to include the ability for large employers to pass up to 10% of their unspent levy to other employers

    August 2018 - next phase of the Levy Account system allowing employer to delegate functionality to ‘trusted providers’

    April 2019 - Small employers to start using the levy system

    England only - differences occur across the UK
    *You will not receive a Masters qualification on completion

  • Webinar: Understanding the opportunities of Apprenticeship

    by Kieron McDonnell | Feb 06, 2018


    Cassandra Macdonald, Head of Client Solutions: Apprenticeships at Kaplan
    Matt Rawlins, Client Director
    Karen Young, Director of Hays Senior Finance

    Accountancy and tax apprenticeships have recently undergone significant updates to funding, delivery and design. Navigate these changes and seize the opportunity to further develop your teams.

    The Hays webinar will cover

    • The new Level 7 Professional Accountant Apprenticeship
    • Making sense of the 20% 'off-the-job' rules
    • Understanding new eligibility rules

    Watch the recording now.

  • The corporate message: Apprenticeships

    by Sarah Gifford | Dec 06, 2017

    Many businesses have a long history of training and developing staff both internally and with external training providers, including sponsorship to gain a relevant qualification. The application and impact of that new knowledge in the workplace was assumed to occur but rarely assessed formally.

    An Apprenticeship is more explicit about the use of learning. The gained knowledge is coupled with appropriate skills and behaviours and must be reflected and applied within the workplace throughout the Apprenticeship journey. In many higher level Apprenticeships, a professional reflective discussion, to determine individual competency in applying the knowledge, also forms part of the end-point assessment. The concept of putting learning into practise is a well proven one, and needless to say, there are huge productivity benefits for businesses that run internal Apprenticeship programmes.

    The value a company places on training is not likely to have changed because of Apprenticeship reform.  However, the levy has aggregated and focused learning and development budgets, but it should not depreciate the value of the budget just because it has already been ‘spent’ (i.e. the levy is prepaid). Where businesses must tread carefully is the messages between ‘spending the levy’ and focusing on core business need.

    Previous opportunities might have been allocated under a reward scheme, an element of internal competition, length of employment, or even on a first come first served basis. Apprenticeships, however, will likely require a different way of recruiting and working. It requires substantial engagement from staff because the level of commitment goes beyond just studying for a qualification. But it also requires a deeper level of respect and reassurance between the line managers and the apprentices; as employees take ownership of their training and development and commit to the 20% off-the-job training.

    Key company priorities, such as effective Apprenticeship programmes, are implemented and grown with the help of good managers. Successful teams have managers who are actively involved in their employee’s professional development, motivating the team through mutual respect and setting clear objectives and goals. Your business can support good managers to identify and champion talent development by providing:

    • clear communication on the commitment and attitude expected from an apprentice, to help potential internal candidates and line managers make informed decisions
    • information about the levy and the opportunity it presents the business, but a measured approach to recruiting candidates quickly in order to access it
    • a positive organisational culture towards Apprenticeships and internal training and being clear about what it means to the company’s goals
    • an enthusiastic learning environment by equipping line managers with clear corporate guidance on how to continue to motivate apprentices and set meaningful objectives.

    Managers have a great influence over the success of a company’s Apprenticeship programme and it is within your interest to help them identify and nurture the perfect candidate. The ideal individual would be someone who has the right attitude, the right qualities and the desire to achieve your corporate goal of a successful apprenticeship programme.

    If you are interested in management training for your line managers; or would like to discuss your internal recruitment strategy with our Apprenticeship recruitment manager please complete our contact form.

  • 20% “Off the Job” training demystified

    by Cassandra MacDonald | Dec 06, 2017

    Over the last 12 months we have worked with dozens of clients across a wide range of sectors – banking, retail, insurance and professional services. Without exception, when discussing Apprenticeships, one issue has been a major concern – “what do we do about the 20%?” and in many cases putting managers off Apprenticeship training.

    What was most striking is that these are companies that invest significantly in training and development with comprehensive talent programmes yet are still worried about how they will meet this requirement. It made us think if these firms will struggle what hope is there for anybody else?

    Believing this can’t be as onerous as it first appears, at Kaplan our client solutions team have unpicked the guidance to try to demystify this requirement for the employers we work with. Here we share some of our top tips for making the 20% work for you:

    • ‘Off-the-Job’ or ‘On-the-Job’ – It could be argued that the term ‘off the job’ is a little unhelpful as it suggests apprentices physically need to be away from their work premises for it to apply. This is not true and training can absolutely happen in the workplace. To count it just needs to be case that apprentices are not undertaking normal day-to-day duties and that there time is being spent in some form of training or development relevant to the Apprenticeship standard they are completing.
    • 20% - doesn’t mean one day per week - Again many employers assume that 20% means one day per week needs to be spent training. However as long as in its entirety 20% of the programme has been spent in training and development then you can plan the training to take place whenever and wherever you want.
    • Make Inductions Count – The rules don’t allow for inductions to be included IF they just involve showing somebody where the kitchen is or meeting the team. However if your induction includes actual training and skills development then this can, absolutely, be included. We know many employers have very comprehensive inductions into new roles, sometimes including up to 2 weeks of technical training. We would recommend working with your providers on the start date of your Apprenticeships to ensure this training can be taken into account.
    • Embrace flexibility of delivery methods – It is the case that the 20% has to be achieved in work time so if you only allow your students to study in the evening and weekend and don’t give any time off in lieu, then this won’t count. However if adopting a day release model doesn’t work for your business, you can still make the most of the flexibility a provider like Kaplan can offer in terms of delivery. So for instance you can still use courses in anti-social hours but plan time off in lieu to fit around work requirements. Or you could look into the new on-demand learning packages which allow students to study wherever, whenever, so they can choose less busy times at work to concentrate on their learning.
    • Consider when your learners are ‘in training’ – As part of your learner’s programme, will they be taught new skills and knowledge whilst technically ‘on the job’? This is the area we get the most push-back from, possibly as it feels harder to quantify, but it is well worth spending the time considering this fact, not least because the guidance clearly states this is OK:
    Lisa is an engineering apprentice. She has weekly training with interactive feedback while she learns to use a core piece of equipment. Learning how to use this equipment forms part of the knowledge, skills and behaviours she needs to achieve the apprenticeship. This activity would count as off-the-job training.

    Apprenticeship off-the-job training - Policy background and examples - June 2017 - Department for Education (PDF, 453KB)

    Applying this to many employers looking to develop their staff there are likely to be many situations where a large proportion of time is spent learning new skills and developing new areas of knowledge. As per above, this can be counted so should be included in your 20%.

    Finally we are asked very frequently how this will be monitored and evidenced. The guidance here is very sketchy and encourages employers and providers to work together to use ‘naturally occurring evidence’. It is a requirement that to enrol onto an Apprenticeship programme, providers have worked with you as the employer to understand how the 20% will be made up. At Kaplan we will put together a plan, similar to the below that will be bespoked to you.

    At regular check-in points, our Talent Coaches will then review with your learners what training they have received over the last quarter to make sure that what was agreed at the start of the programme is being adhered to. Our Talent Coaches will log this on our Learning Management System. Whilst it is good practice for apprentices to keep a note of when they have received/attended training courses, we are not asking our learners to log hours.

    We hope that the above has proved useful in terms of helping to make sense of the 20% requirement and make it feel a little more achievable. This is a new and ever evolving area, so Kaplan’s client solutions team is here to work with you to make sure you are comfortable with how this will work for your organisation with every standard you wish to deliver. Please contact your account manager if you wish to discuss further.

    20% Breakdown for Level 7 Accounting/Taxation Professional

    Learning Activities Employer Kaplan Suggested Frequency
    Introduction to role (must include training) 1 day = 7 hours Month 1
    Development Day Workshops 10 days = 70 hours 8 workshops scheduled plus 2 day business challenge
    ICAEW Classroom c100 days = 700 hours Flexible Study Time – c100 days including exams
    ICAEW Study Time
    E-learning Skills Modules 12 units @ 3 hours = 36 hours Flexible Study Time – As directed by Talent Coach
    Internal Training including technical and behavioural 12 days = 84 hours Assume 1 day every quarter
    One to ones with line manager/Shadowing/Mentoring/Appraisals etc… 3 hours per month = 108 hours ½ day per week - approximately
    End Point Assessment including preparation and exams 13 days = 91 hours Approx 13 days in total including Talent Coach support
    TOTALS 199 hours 897 hours 1,096 hours

    OTJ Calculation
    36 month training programme
    35 hour week, 25 holidays per year, 8 Bank Holidays per year
    = 4,732 working hours over 18 months
    20% OTJ = Minimum of 946 hours over 36 months

  • Apprenticeships & the Public Sector: Kaplan as an approved supplier

    by Kieron McDonnell | Nov 15, 2017

    Did you know that since 12th September 2017 Kaplan is approved as an official Crown Supplier of Accountancy and Tax Apprenticeships?

    This means that any Public Sector organisation can use Kaplan for Finance Apprenticeship training without the need for further procurement.

    You will find more information about this agreement and what this means on the government website.

    Are you a Public Sector organisation looking at enrolling your staff onto an Accountancy & Tax Apprenticeship? Contact our team today.

  • Apprenticeship Service Developments Update

    by Richard Marsh - Apprenticeship Partnership Director | Nov 14, 2017

    Refining and expanding the Levy funding system

    The latest DFE data shows that there are now over 11,000 employers who have opened their Apprenticeship Service (AS) levy account (end of September ‘17). Steady if not spectacular progress.

    Those employers that taken the plunge and opened accounts have found that it works! But many of the employers we have spoken to report that functionality is very limited, and they are not able to do all that they might expect or want to do.

    If we are to get all 20,000 levy payers (and potentially all employers) using the system, then it will have to become a lot more user friendly. The current system has given employers purchasing power but also created a lot of extra administration for them – and for their providers.

    At the recent AELP autumn conference Keith Smith (Director, Funding and Programmes, ESFA) gave us an insight into the developments that have been planned to improve and expand the functionality of the service (see roadmap below).

    Initial enhancements

    The enhancements planned for the end of this year should give employers greater visibility and control over their accounts. With new functions such as forecasting and a window for editing an apprentice’s details particularly helpful at the early stages of set-up.

    Employers will also be able to select their preferred End Point Assessment Organisation and eventually pay them directly (rather than via their provider). This is something that will help employers to clearly distinguish between training provider and EPA roles (and costs) and again gives them more control, which we should all welcome. However the employer and provider will need to work closely to avoid any confusion and to allow the provider sufficient time to agree a way of working with the chosen EPA.

    Spring 2018 changes

    Most significant of the planned April 2018 changes is for employers to be able to transfer some of their unspent levy funds to other employers (possibly up to 10%). This much heralded function could lead to some interesting employer – employer relationships, for example allowing larger employers to help upskill their smaller suppliers.

    However the attitude of many employers is that they wish to do less apprenticeship admin, not more. And so the ability for them transfer funding and even order their own certificates for example, might not be necessarily seen as a bonus (anyone who has ever had to order apprenticeships certificates at volume will wince at this point).

    Next academic year we could see the integration of the digital account and the main provider-ESFA system the ‘ILR’. An intelligent union will reduce the number of times that data has to be entered for example and would allow providers to fully control the data (with employer agreement) meaning that employers will be able to delegate much of the admin back to trusted providers.

    All aboard

    This will be important as the next big step planned for 2019 is for all employers (levy paying or not) to start using the system. Such a wholesale change will only be possible if the system is working smoothly and is intuitive enough for most to use it without help or instruction.

    Of course the other big impact of all employers using the system is that it would end the system of funding allocations and contract management (for apprenticeships at least) as each employer would be in effect commissioning their own 90% subsidies.

    This would be a huge change and signify a complete break with the FE provider funding system that, love it or loathe it, has been around for the past 20 years.

    There is a long way to go before all of this is reality of course and no one will be surprised if there were one or more unforeseen technological,policy or practise ‘issues' that mean the system doesn’t materialise exactly as planned.

    Apprenticeships Service Roadmap

  • Level 7 Apprenticeship video update

    by Kieron McDonnell | Nov 06, 2017

    Listen to Kaplan directors Cassandra MacDonald and Richard Marsh, as they go through the recently launched Level 7 Professional Apprenticeship standards

    This long awaited Apprenticeship standard has now been formally signed off by Anne Milton, the skills minister, and completes the new Apprenticeship Accounting family of standards at Level 3, 4 and now 7.

    You can also find information of the new Level 7 Professional Apprenticeship standard in our handy factsheet.

    If you still have questions or would like to see how Kaplan can help you introduce Level 7 apprenticeships to your business call 0333 009 5330.

  • Interview with Gail Ramiz, Head of Academic Support

    by Sharon Cooper | Oct 30, 2017

    Finding enough time to study can be a challenge, so when you do get to opening that textbook or logging on to MyKaplan, you want it to be as productive as possible. That’s why our Academic Support team is now open longer and guarantees that a subject specialist (CIMA, AAT, ACCA and ACA) will get back to you straight away with Live Chat or within 4 working hours by email or request a callback.

    We interviewed Kaplan’s Gail Ramiz, who heads up Academic Support to find out what’s changed and what you can take advantage of as a Kaplan student.

    Hi Gail. Could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do at Kaplan?

    I’ve been with Kaplan for 10 years now, starting as an ACA Tutor before becoming Head of Tutors for London ACCA & CIMA. I’ve recently taken up my new role as Head of Academic Support, overseeing the team of expert tutors offering help to students.

    What does the Academic Support team do?

    We’re here to help our students with their studies and answer subject specific queries when they have them - just like they would ask a tutor in class. The team include dedicated subject specialists who have years of experience in the industry. For example, our tax expert Jenni Hudson has been a Kaplan support tutor for 13 years and our financial management expert Bill McCarthy has been with Kaplan for 26 years. They’re all available to speak to through live chat, email or request a callback when you need them. We also have discussion forums on MyKaplan where tutors will be there to respond to questions posted by students. We think having these experts on hand when you need them most really sets us apart from what anyone else in the market offers.

    And how has Academic Support changed recently?

    About 18 months ago, we did lots of research with students to understand what they liked about our tutor support, what was missing and what they found frustrating with their studies.

    One of the big things that came out was that students wanted a quick response to their problem. It’s great having your tutor’s mobile number or email address, but if they’re busy teaching or with another student, you could end up waiting days for a response, and this was frustrating. And when they did get through to someone, they wanted an answer there and then, without being passed around.

    So, we now have a team of subject specialists that are on standby to answer questions instantly via Live Chat. Because you're chatting to a specialist, you'll get the answer you need first time. And if you prefer to email or speak over the phone, someone will get back to you within 4 working hours. So you have the speed of response and the confidence that you'll get the answer you need.

    Apart from getting a quick response, how else do you think this helps students?

    Well, we also looked at a lot of research on the effect of response times on academic performance. Not surprisingly, getting an immediate response to a problem you have means you’re much more likely to perform better in the exam. If it’s fresh in your mind and you’re engaged with the subject, you’ll get more from the response. So for us, it’s really important that we offer this to our students.

    As part of the changes, Kaplan also introduced Learning Coaches. What do they do?

    A lot of students told us they found it hard to stay motivated and on track and would like more regular progress checks with Kaplan to see how they were progressing - particularly if they weren’t studying in the classroom.

    So our Learning Coaches were introduced to do just that. They’ll monitor a student’s performance and progression in the background, intervening if they see them struggling or falling behind. This allows them to then provide individual support and arrange tailored one-on-one coaching sessions to get them back on track.

    And how do Learning Coaches help improve a student’s performance?

    Learning Coaches can see a student’s individual progress through the course, test scores etc. So they can provide much more individual feedback and pointers on how to improve. They can also see at what point they should intervene, without a student being ‘too far gone’ to get their studies back on track.

    This all aids with motivation and helping them stay engaged with the course. Research we did with CIMA shows that students are much more likely to pass if they stick with the course, book their exam and sit it within a few weeks of completing their studies.

  • Level 7: What to consider before making the switch

    by Cassandra Macdonald | Oct 25, 2017

    The eagerly anticipated Level 7 Professional Accountant Apprenticeship standard will soon be available for delivery, enabling employers to train their students towards a full Chartered Accountancy/Tax qualification through the Apprenticeship route.

    The availability of Levy and 90/10* government funding for non or marginal Levy payers has naturally lead many employers to plan to switch to the Apprenticeship as soon as it is ready for use.

    At Kaplan we are very excited about the opportunities Level 7 will provide and have spent the past few months advising our clients on key considerations they should be keeping in mind when deciding if and when to embrace this new route. In anticipation of the imminent approval, we are sharing some of these considerations with you now to make sure you are fully prepared and avoid any potential pitfalls.

    20% ‘Off-The-Job’

    New Apprenticeship funding rules state that for anybody on an Apprenticeship, 20% of the time on the programme must be spent in training and development – so called “off-the-job” requirement. Whilst this can encompass many things such as appraisals, mentoring, internal training, shadowing and professional qualification training – it is an important consideration, especially if, as an organisation, you currently use weekend or evening courses.

    A good training provider, like Kaplan, can advise you on how your programme can meet this requirement and how you track it but it is now an important consideration for any employer thinking about Apprenticeships as a method of study.

    Skills and Behaviours

    Apprenticeships, especially with new standards, are no longer just focused on professional qualifications (technical knowledge) but now also place equal importance on the development of key skills and behaviours that are required to show somebody is competent in their job role. Fundamentally this is very similar to the completion of training records and practical work experience already required by most Professional Accountancy/Tax bodies. However under an Apprenticeship it is important that the training and demonstration of these skills and behaviours is documented and that progress towards them is formally monitored.

    Training providers will assist with this, so Kaplan as an example use an online training log and provide Talent Coach support to assist with the tracking of progress. However it is important you are aware of this requirement before committing to Apprenticeship training.

    End Point Assessment (EPA)

    Linked to the Skills and Behaviours point above, another key difference between Professional Qualification training and Apprenticeships is the need to complete at least 2 forms of ‘End Point Assessment’ on completion of the Apprenticeship. With Level 7, this has been made slightly easier as one of the forms of end point assessment will be the final case study which sits at the end of all the Professional Qualifications. However, there is an additional 4,000 word project individuals will need to complete to reflect on their recent, relevant professional work experience.

    This is designed to be a valuable component of the training programme, enabling Apprentices to truly reflect on what they have achieved but it does need to be completed to achieve the Apprenticeship so another important consideration especially for students part-way through their studies who you are thinking of transferring.

    12 month rule

    Apprenticeships in any sector at any level, now have to last a minimum of 12 months and 1 week (372 days). For new Apprenticeship standards a further requirement is that End Point Assessment cannot be attempted until the Apprentice has been on programme for at least 12 months.

    For new students this shouldn’t be an issue as most Professional Qualifications will take at least 3 years BUT this is an important consideration if you are looking to transfer an existing student onto an Apprenticeship scheme. For some Qualifications EPAs may only run up to 2 times per year which could considerably delay the time your student would take to qualify and potentially impact existing training contracts.

    Clawback and Resits

    New funding rules do state that employers are no longer allowed to ask the Apprentice to contribute financially in any way towards their Apprenticeship. This includes asking Apprentices to pay for exam resits or asking Apprentices to pay back any costs of their training. This does mean that if you currently have a clause in existing training contracts where you clawback training costs if students leave during training or after a certain period of time, this will need to be reviewed.**

    Level 7 is undoubtedly going to have a major impact in our sector, and we anticipate the majority of the employers we work with to embrace this new standard so seeing a major spike in the number of students on official Apprenticeship schemes. However it is important we do remember that these are Apprenticeships and not just funding for Professional Training.

    We hope the considerations above prove useful and welcome any comments/suggestions or any other questions we’ve not included here.

    Cassandra has been a member of the employer working groups for all three Accountancy Standards.

    *For non or marginal Levy payers, who undertake Apprenticeship training, the government will fund 90% of the agreed training costs, with employer paying the remaining 10%

    **For any change in contracts, we recommend you to take expert legal advice

  • Two steps forward and one step back; or the calm before the storm?

    by Richard Marsh - | Oct 17, 2017

    This week the Government has published it’s regular quarterly Apprenticeship data. For the past 5 years these quarterly reports have shown a remarkably consistent picture. With very little year on year fluctuation in the number of new Apprenticeships started in England in any given period.

    However, the latest set of data has revealed an unprecedented 61% drop in the number of Apprenticeships starts between May and July 2017, compared to the same period last year.

    This drop has coincided with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy for employers with an annual wage bill of £3M or greater. Although the Levy has increased the amount of money available for Apprenticeships it has also been a very big change and is one that is taking some time to get used to.

    Here at Kaplan we know from our work with Levy paying employers that there is a lot of work involved in setting up your Levy Account. Deciding who will manage the fund and how, can be a complex process for large organisations that may have previously had several departmental people development budgets. There is also a question of strategy and priority – where should you use the Levy? To bring in fresh new talent or to upskill existing staff? What about a management programme and do we still need Graduates? These are some of the common questions being asked by employers.

    Once an employer has decided how to spend their Levy and on what, they then need to find a training provider to deliver on this plan. This can often involve a lengthy procurement process; it is after all important to choose a partner that can deliver the high quality learning experience your staff deserve.

    No wonder then that there has been a drop in Apprenticeships in the quarter.

    However, as employers get themselves set-up to maximise the opportunities that the levy brings, we expect the numbers to rebound strongly and for Apprenticeships to go from strength to strength.

  • Apprenticeship video Q&A: What is the level 7 standard?

    by Kieron McDonnell | Sep 11, 2017

    The most exciting developments in apprenticeship are the new standards being created at Level 7 (equivalent to a Master’s degree) which will enable a full Professional Qualification to be completed via the Apprenticeship route. Watch our video Q&A to find out about:

    • What is the new Level 7 Accountancy Apprenticeship standard?
    • Is it not just funding for the Professional Qualification?
    • What makes it different?
    • How will it practically change how you train?
    • Can you still do Level 7 if you are part way through the qualification??
  • First Point of Contact: Talent Coach Interview

    by Lewis Charlesworth | May 24, 2018

    Kaplan’s talent coaches offer direct support for our students - providing a first point of contact, regardless of the query.

    The student may face technical challenges, may wish for more tutor support, or might face more personal challenges.

    Regardless of circumstances, our talent coaches are there to ensure that our students achieve the goals they set out for themselves. 

    Watch this interview to see the kind of support that is provided. 

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