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  • How to register for your ACCA Apprenticeship

    by Lewis Charlesworth | Jan 03, 2019

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

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

    This short webinar will focus on:

    • Where to sign up as an ACCA student

    • What documentation you need to provide

    • How to pay for your ACCA registration.

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

  • 2018 Apprenticeship Briefings: key points

    by Lewis Charlesworth | Dec 12, 2018

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

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

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

    • Qualifications – have we got the balance right?

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

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

    • Diversity  and Social Mobility – are we making progress?

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

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

    • Do Apprenticeships need a rebrand?

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

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

    • The importance of the right fit…

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

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

    • Too many standards or too few?

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

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

    In summary

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

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

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

    by Lewis Charlesworth | Nov 28, 2018

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

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

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

    The Kaplan King

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

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

    The future after AAT

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

    Our studies show

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

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

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

  • Kaplan welcomes Chartered Banker’s new Apprenticeship Insights Report

    by Lewis Charlesworth | Nov 22, 2018

    The Chartered Banker published their Apprenticeship Insights Report at their 3rd ‘Professional Education in Banking’ Conference, on 15th November.

    The report* details the current Apprenticeship landscape within the Financial Services and banking sector. It features contributions from over 30 employers, professional bodies, End Point Assessment Organisations (EPAO’s)and providers (such as Kaplan).

    A need for standards to align

    The recommendations in the report were praised by Sir Gerry Berragan, CEO Institute for Apprenticeships, who stated at the conference that he agreed with everything put forward.

    The report stated the need for Apprenticeship standards to align with professional standards, and that there should be consistency across the whole of the UK for delivery and Levy spend.

    Apprenticeships in this sector have been a relatively new undertaking. This contrasts with Accountancy, reference in both the report and Sir Gerry, where Apprenticeships have long been a popular form of training and where numbers of starts are significantly higher.

    As the largest provider of Accountancy and Tax Apprenticeships, we find this an interesting comparison. In our experience, the success of Apprenticeships in Accountancy and Tax - which continues under the switch from frameworks to standards - has been driven by:

    • Professional Qualifications - which remain at the heart of the programmes

    • Skills and Behaviours - which are listed in the standard and are closely aligned to Professional Development requirements

    • Close sector collaboration in the development of End Point Assessment  - which minimise a duplication of work and give a clear understanding of what’s required.

    Moving towards an intuitive Apprenticeship

    For a number of reasons it may not be entirely possible to replicate the model embraced by Accountancy. However,  there are some features, referenced in the report, that could be adopted.

    We agree with the Chartered Banker’s call for the standards, across the sector, to closely link to professional requirements. This would allow the Apprenticeship to feel more intuitive and less standalone, something Accountancy has done very well.

    Most importantly, however, we believe that End Point Assessment methods should be reviewed and streamlined. Current ambiguous and contrasting assessment plans across the different Financial Services standards on offer is leading to conflicting advice and confusion.  

    A more consistent approach with clear, unambiguous guidance is vital to ensuring Apprenticeships in this space continue to build on what has already been achieved.

    An excellent starting point

    The report is an excellent starting point, especially when we consider what needs to be done as part of the upcoming review into standards in this space (which was confirmed to happen in early 2019).

    At Kaplan we’re looking forward to continuing the discussion at our upcoming breakfast events, starting today (November 22nd) and continuing in Manchester on 4th December.

    *Written by Independent Consultant and Financial Services Apprenticeship expert, Tammie Harwin.

  • The Budget: Backing Businesses to Invest and Grow

    by Lewis Charlesworth | Nov 06, 2018

    Last week’s budget, the final before Brexit, led many in the media to focus on Phil Hammond’s assertion that we’re ending the "era of austerity”.

    His 70 minute speech described having reached "a defining moment on this long, hard journey" after the rebuild of our public finances.

    What many failed to pick out, however, was the tangible change being made to Apprenticeships - for small and medium sized business owners. After describing the budget as being aimed at the "strivers, the grafters and the carers," and promising them a "brighter future" it was pleasant to see a powerful, and very real, change to Apprenticeship contributions.

    Mr Hammond revealed that the percentage fee small businesses pay when they take on apprentices will be halved from 10% to 5%.  This is part of the £695 million package to support apprenticeships.

    As well as backing businesses to invest and grow, we’ll also make sure British workers are equipped with the skills they need to thrive and prosper

    - Phillip Hammond

    This represents a further boost to businesses looking to upskill their current staff and attract the best talent.

    It’s understood that the 5 per cent contribution will only apply to apprentices who began their course when the new change comes into play. At the moment details and timescales aren’t explicit, but further information will be announced early next year.

    Cost effective upskilling

    Thanks to the Apprenticeship levy, brought out in 2017, professional training is much more accessible. The subsidy means that this type of expense is no longer reserved for larger organisations, with big training funds.

    Head of Client Solutions at Kaplan, Cassandra McDonald, comments:

    The growth of new Apprenticeship standards across a wide range of professional jobs, coupled with government funding, means opting to upskill your workforce costs a lot less than you think.

    Now more than ever, the Apprenticeship standards not only make staff training more affordable,  many lead all the way to the achievement of a Professional Qualification.

    Many of these qualifications, which are covered within Apprenticeship standards, can be trained through a provider such as Kaplan. Our financial apprenticeships cover: ACA (ICAEW), AAT, CIMA, ACCA, ATT, CTA, ILM, CIPD, CICM, CII, CFA and ICA.

    To find out about the full range of Professional Qualifications and Apprenticeship standards visit our site, and if you’d like to discover how this training can benefit your company, please speak to one of our team.

  • Apprenticeships: What we've learned so far and what's in store

    by Lewis Charlesworth | Oct 22, 2018

    2018 has been another year of growth and change with Apprenticeships, with the launch of even more new standards (such as the new L4 Internal Audit Apprenticeship), increasing number of Apprentices going through the End Point Assessment (EPA) and an ongoing review of assessment plans and funding bands.

    It's an exciting time for employers looking to maximise Apprenticeships opportunities, but it can be a confusing sector to fully appreciate what is available and how they can work best for your organisation.

    To help you make sense of where we are now, and what’s to come, please join Kaplan and our panel of experts including ACCA, CICM, AAT, NOCN, CIMA and ICAEW for a breakfast event on Tuesday 4th December at 8:30 am at The Principal, Manchester.

    In this interactive and informative session, we will cover:

    • An overview of the current Apprenticeship landscape and changes due in 2019

    • A briefing of the range of standards available

    • The advantages and disadvantages of converting existing training into Apprenticeship standards including the treatment of graduates and school leavers

    • Using Apprenticeships to aid workforce planning post BREXIT

    • Lessons learned from End Point Assessments carried out so far

    • A discussion on the role Apprenticeships can play in achieving diversity in the sector

    We do hope you can join us. Places are limited, so book early to avoid disappointment.

  • Frameworks to Standards – A Let Down or Work In Progress?

    by Cassandra McDonald | Oct 15, 2018

    The transition from apprenticeship frameworks to standards has been mismanaged by successive governments.
    Employers have been let down.

    Reading through the Parliamentary report* into Apprenticeships earlier this week, the above statement felt like the perfect title for an essay on Apprenticeship reforms - just lacking the word ‘discuss’ after it.

    Having spent the last 7 years working in this sector and being heavily involved in many different Trailblazer groups, the statement got me thinking…has the move to standards really been a let-down? Is this a fair statement?

    Looking back to 2013/14, and the early days of developing the Accountancy standards, there was a genuine desire to create something that would be truly employer led, widen access to the profession and provide best-in-class training.

    The forerunner of these standards - the Professional Services Frameworks - had taken steps forward to focus on more than just technical training, but the prescriptive nature of the assessment criteria reaffirmed a belief that Apprenticeships were burdensome and overly complex. Was it really fair to say somebody was incapable of leading a meeting if they hadn’t ticked the box to say ‘they’d ordered in tea and biscuits?’.

    This was the big opportunity standards were going to bring – the chance to move away from ‘box- ticking’ to the design and delivery of programmes that allowed more flexibility around skills and behavioural development. It would enable learners, through end point assessment, to really showcase the best of their work and gain access to genuine workplace opportunities.

    It’s this belief in what standards are there to do that made me initially question whether the statement was justified. But on further reflection, there do seem to be some key areas that lend truth to the claim.

    1) Consistency of EPA

    EPA monitoring is subject to ongoing debate, and is central to the issue of ensuring a workable system for employers. The range of different methods of assessment and rules and regulations for each is vast, and changing government views on what’s in and out does little to help (e.g. portfolios, reflective statements).

    Not only this but each assessment plan has it’s own rules (so 30 different ways to compile a portfolio?) and each EPAO then has their own interpretation of those assessment plans. This isn't a criticism of EPAOs - who are left with very little to go on other than what’s in the assessment plans. However, the system does allow for too much inconsistency in approach so it’s easy to see why employers can quickly lose confidence and learners are unclear about what it is they are actually ‘getting’.

    2) Review of assessment plans and standards

    Linked to this is the ‘3 year review’ of standards and assessment plans. In theory, it's a sensible time period to review but given the fact that it sometimes took nearly 3 years to sign off the assessment plan, after the standard was approved, it means we’re already reviewing programmes that have so far seen very few learners take the EPA. This leaves little data to judge if methods are successful or not.

    Valuable time has been spent working with employers, preparing them for what’s involved. Additionally, we now we have to revisit what we’ve told them because it’s in review and is likely to fall foul of changing rules over what’s in and what’s out of EPA…is it a system that’s genuinely working for employers?

    3) Funding band changes

    As with the review of assessment plans, the review of funding bands has caused much consternation in the sector. Many of these standards up for a cut have only been in use for 18-24 months. Employers have only just established schemes and found providers they want to work with, but now the whole scheme could be in jeopardy. This is due to the rates getting cut to such an extent that the schemes may no longer be deliverable.

    Ever an optimist, I can but remain hopeful that in time things will settle down and the ambition of standards, first eagerly discussed in those early Trailblazer groups, can be fully realised.

    But the continual need to change policies, still in their infancy, and failure to tackle some of the biggest concerns around the new reforms means we are now in a position where employers can justifiably say they feel let down by a system overhaul that was meant to work for them, and be led by them.

    * The apprenticeships ladder of opportunity: quality not quantity
  • It's finally here - The Internal Audit Practitioner Level 4 Apprenticeship

    by Lewis Charlesworth | Sep 12, 2018

    The long-awaited Internal Audit Practitioner Level 4 Apprenticeship has been approved for delivery by the Institute for Apprenticeships. At Kaplan, we are really proud to be the first training provider to offer this Apprenticeship programme to employers.

    We will be delivering this programme in partnership with The Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), the highly recognised professional body for Internal Auditing in the UK and Ireland.

    The 24 month apprenticeship is available for a range of businesses in a variety of sectors and would typically suit an individual who is either:

    • Newly appointed to an internal audit role and involved in undertaking all aspects of internal audit engagements, or;

    • An existing internal audit member of staff who would like to improve their knowledge and understanding of internal audit.

    During the programme and supported by a Kaplan Talent Coach, apprentices will develop the Skills and Behaviours required to be competent within an auditing role. They will gain significant Knowledge from the Certificate in Internal Audit and Business Risk which provides a thorough grounding in the practice and principles of audit, governance, risk and assurance.

    Following completion of the IIA Certificate, the apprentices will then complete the Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) qualification; Part 1 Essentials of Internal Audit. A globally-recognised qualification, it will provide each apprentice with a firm foundation for a career in internal auditing.

    Watch this helpful webinar with information on the delivery methods and practicalities of this new Apprenticeship Programme or download our Internal Audit factsheet for more details on this Apprenticeship Standard. 
    For more information on anything mentioned in this article please email 
  • Setting up and approving cohorts on The Apprenticeship Service

    by Lewis Charlesworth | Sep 06, 2018
    Are you a levy paying employer? Are your Apprentice's studying with Kaplan?

    For Kaplan to be able to draw down Apprenticeship funds from your levy pot,  there are a few simple steps that you need to take through your "The Apprenticeship Service" ("TAS") account. This will also allow you to track your Apprentice's draw down and help us provide a seamless start to their programme 

     As the 'sponsoring employer' you need to log in, assign a training provider, allocate a cohort and approve the cohort. You may need to do this regularly dependent on your intake of Apprentices.

    We've put together two short videos to demonstrate what you need to do.

    Setting up


  • Upskill your team through an Apprenticeship

    by Lewis Charlesworth | Jul 04, 2018
    There have been many changes to Finance Apprenticeships. Many of them have been designed to make Apprenticeships more accessible and beneficial to businesses. 

    This infographic breaks down some of the main ways the different levels of Finance Apprenticeships can upskill your current, or new, workforce.

    Apprenticeship upskilling
  • 10 things I HATE about…Finance Apprenticeship assumptions

    by Lewis Charlesworth | Jun 26, 2018
    Finance Apprenticeships offer great benefits to businesses. They can learn valuable  skills they can't get from a degree, all while earning.

    But there are many misconceptions hanging in the air that prevent many business people from taking advantage of what's available.

    Here, I demystify some of these unfounded beliefs... 

    1. Apprenticeships are only for young people

    This isn’t the case; there are no age limits for apprenticeships. However, there are incentives for supporting younger apprentices. For example:

    • You don’t need to pay Employers NI for most apprentices under the age of 25.
    • There is an additional £1000 grant for taking on apprentices under the age of 19.
    • If you have less than 50 employees, you don’t have to make the 10% contribution for apprentices under the age of 19.

    2. Graduates cannot do apprenticeships

    In most cases degrees will not affect the eligibility of an apprenticeship. The only way they won’t be eligible, is if the student already has a qualification in the subject they want to be an Apprentice in. However, most employees can undertake an apprenticeship even if they have a degree.

    3. Existing staff cannot become an apprentice.

    The apprenticeship standards are available for all existing employees of any age - as well as new recruits into your business. As long as they need ‘substantial’ training, they qualify.

    Apprentices do not need to be out of the office 1 day a week.

    4. Apprentices cannot study ACCA, CIMA or ICAEW

    The Level 7 Professional Accountant Standard was introduced on 6th November 2017. Therefore you can now study any of the major accountancy qualifications under the apprenticeship scheme. ICAEW, ACCA, CIMA, AAT, ATT and CTA are all covered.

    5. Employees already studying towards a qualification cannot move onto an apprenticeship

    As long as the employee has more than 12 months of study remaining, and they will benefit from the training, they can move across. Kaplan have supported hundreds of businesses transition their existing students onto the apprenticeship standards.

    6. Apprentices are at college 1 day a week

    Apprentices need to spend 20% of their time training. However, this isn’t just time spent at college. The 20% can be made up of online training, mentoring, feedback and coaching. Many of the tasks that an employee does in the first few years of employment count towards the 20% and therefore apprentices do no need to be out of the office 1 day a week.

    Kapan also offers a variety of flexible study methods. This means that apprentices can study in short bursts and don’t need to attend a classroom. We can work to create a training programme that works around the busy periods to minimize the impact on your business.

    7. Apprentices have to do more work than the fee paying route

    Apprentices do need to show that they are developing relevant skills and behaviors as well as passing the exams. As a result there will be additional training on top of a traditional route, however these skills will make them more effective employees and help ‘lock in’ their learning.

    Over the years I’ve heard many businesses talk about having a skills gap for post qualified’s. Newly qualified accountants have the technical competence to do the work, but not the behavioral confidence to communicate their findings to internal or external customers. 

    Also, they do not  have the skills necessary for them to step up an manage a team. Kaplan’s unique development days online focus sessions allow apprentices to develop these skills which have traditionally been overlooked.


    So there is some extra work along the way and the apprentice will need to complete an End Point Assessment at the end. However, this is addressing a skills gap some businesses have seen for many years.

    Did you know?

    Any company can take on an apprentice, regardless of size or the apprenticeship levy 

    8. Apprenticeships are inflexible and you have to study certain exams at certain times

    Far from the truth, apprenticeships allow students to take exams in any order and under any of the study methods Kaplan offers (Classroom, Live Online and On Demand). In most of the qualifications, the final Case Study will form part of the End Point Assessment which needs to be done at the end of the apprenticeship. But this is the case with the traditional fee paying route also.

    9. Only Levy payers can use the new apprenticeships

    All businesses can take on an apprentice. If you have a Levy pot then this can be used to fund the training. However, if you are not a Levy payer then the government will contribute 90% to the cost of the apprenticeship.

    In fact, as mentioned above, if you take on an apprentice under the age of 19 and you have less than 50 employees, you don’t have to pay the remaining 10% either. (NB different funding applies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.)

    10. Apprenticeships are the only way to support your students in studying towards a professional qualification

    This is very much NOT the case. However, I have pointed out some very frequent misconceptions surrounding apprenticeships. What is important is that you fully weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of the apprenticeship scheme before making any decisions.

    This is not a simple choice, but there are many people out there who can support, so get in touch today.


  • 5 Reasons Your Business Needs An Apprentice

    by Lewis Charlesworth | Jun 18, 2018

    An apprentice can be an invaluable addition to a workforce, especially at an SME.

    Whether you’re looking to bring innovation to your team or upskill your current workforce, hiring an apprentice is a cost efficient way of increasing your SME’s productivity.

    Read the infographic below to discover 5 reasons your business needs an apprentice.

    Apprenticeships Guide
  • 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 User Not Found | 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 Kai Muir –

  • 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.

  • How to register for your ACCA Apprenticeship

    by Lewis Charlesworth | Jan 03, 2019

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

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

    This short webinar will focus on:

    • Where to sign up as an ACCA student

    • What documentation you need to provide

    • How to pay for your ACCA registration.

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

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