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  • WorldSkills UK National Champions winners are revealed

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 01, 2021

    On 15th November our 4 finalist teams battled it out in the Accounting Technician WorldSkills UK Final. Find out which team managed to secure first place.

    During the Qualifiers, Riverside College, Lloyds Team 2, City of Glasgow College, and LIFO the Party (Bridgend College), all gained a place in the Accounting Technician Final. To prepare them ahead of time, a development day was run in October where the teams were given the knowledge and tools to help them succeed.

    On 15th November, at MediaCity in Manchester, each team arrived ready to work hard and tackle the challenge ahead of them. They were given four hours to complete a case study and tasks, set at a level slightly higher than what they are currently studying. This required them to demonstrate their talent, knowledge, and skills within the set time.

    The tasks didn’t just focus on ‘number-crunching’ and core principles like the previous stages, but instead looked at where the role of accountancy is going. They had to be more strategically minded and provide business consultancy.

    It was fantastic to see all the teams come together to compete face to face. There was a great atmosphere and it was inspiring to see each team thrive under the competitive pressure. Every one of our finalists can be extremely proud to have made it to the first ever final of the Accountancy Technician competition.

    The results were revealed via a virtual awards ceremony on Friday 26th November, with the apprentices watching remotely to find out which team had won.

    The results

    1st place - Lloyds Team 2

    2nd - LIFO the Party (Bridgend College)

    3rd - Riverside College

    City of Glasgow College fell just short of a medal place, but can still be very proud of themselves.

    All of the teams competed brilliantly and it was great to see the effort put into their final presentations which were very impressive. This year’s top 3 teams will receive their medals to commemorate their fantastic achievements.

    A very big congratulations again to the winners Lloyds Team 2 who may even get the chance to compete internationally at the 47th WorldSkills Competition, due to take place in Lyon 2024.

    You can watch the virtual results ceremony now, or to find out more about the competition check out the WorldSwkills UK website.

  • Kaplan wins at the Learning Tech Awards for Best Learning Game

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 26, 2021

    We have been awarded the Gold prize at the Learning Technologies 2021 Awards for a business game, which helped onboard ‘new to bank’ apprentices.

    This recognition is for our work with Lloyds Banking Group, and education tech company Interpretive, in our development and execution of an apprenticeship support game.

    Given the challenges that our learners were presented with last year (starting in the workplace during a lockdown) LBG’s latest cohort would not receive traditional face to face inductions, nor classroom skills training - so an online induction was necessary.

    Our business game was borne out of a need to keep apprentices engaged, connected, and make their first few weeks enjoyable, whilst being aligned with LBG’s values

    The game

    We designed an extension of one of Interpretive’s online commercial challenge games to help develop the skills and behaviours of the relevant apprenticeship standards.

    Within the game, apprentices competed for: the highest customer satisfaction, the highest profit, creativity and innovation, and best presentation, at a final awards session. Each team’s decisions affected other teams e.g. price, promotion, and their position within their market.

    This had a positive effect on the apprentices’ engagement, skills and development, and retention.

    The Award

    The impact and effectiveness of this new game clearly resonated with the Learning Technology Award panel. They commented:

    The judges felt that this entry provided a holistic solution with the use of numerous modalities, putting a serious game at the heart of a programme that clearly engaged and enabled the learners.

    - Learning Technology Awards website 

    The game offered up a simulation that facilitated meaningful opportunities to build the real-life relationships we were looking for.

    It created a genuine buzz amongst the apprentices and had a positive impact on their confidence, skills and creativity, resulting in measurable benefits for the business.

    We are delighted to be recognised for adapting to the changes our learners faced, and hopefully this reflects that they are at the heart of everything we do.

    For more information about the awards please visit the Learning Technologies website.

  • It’s raining distinctions for our apprentices

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 05, 2021

    Despite the challenges that come with being a Junior Management Consultant Apprentice, many of our recent cohort excelled. Find out how they exceeded expectations.

    In 2019 a group of 25 PwC learners started their journey, undertaking the Level 4 Junior Management Consultant Apprenticeship. This career path is highly demanding and often requires students to go above and beyond.

    Throughout the apprenticeship, learners must put the skills and knowledge they are acquiring into practice, and embed them into their daily role. Our Talent Coaches support the apprentices at every stage of their journey, helping to draw out the learners’ full potential.

    The Junior management Consultant programme is just one of the examples of how PwC are raising the standards within Industry through the innovative design model and collaboration with industry leading organisations.

    - Tam Choudhury and Priti Miyangar (PWC)

    18 distinctions

    After putting their skills and knowledge into practice, 7 of the apprentices acquired a pass and a whopping 18 secured distinctions. This is a fantastic achievement from all the learners, and a testament to the support they received from their Talent Coaches.

    To complete the apprenticeship learners must take part in the End Point Assessment (EPA), which is no mean feat. They must produce a showcase portfolio which is built over several months evidencing their application of learnings in their workplace.

    Following the submission of the portfolio, they will take part in an interview and presentation with a third party assessor. This forces them to return the knowledge and skills they have learnt and apply it within the set task, proving their competency.

    Throughout the apprenticeship, Talent Coaches work to understand each learner and their unique challenges, tailoring their support to each individual to get the best out of each and everyone. This is particularly important during the EPA when learners must go into depth about the subject and make sure there is sufficient information to support their portfolio.

    The key to success

    It is a combination of hard working learners and supportive Talent Coaches that led to this success. Helen Daglish was one of the accomplished Talent Coaches supporting this cohort:

    "As a Talent Coach, I have found it a very rewarding experience. The students were all very committed to doing well, both in their technical qualification and the End point assessment process. Cannot wait to support the next cohort."

    Helen Daglish - Kaplan Talent Coach

    Not only were the learners committed to doing well, but Helen was committed to help every single one of them succeed. Here is what some of them had to say:

    “I felt comfortable reaching out to Helen any time of the day and she would always make time for me. She was very supportive and I felt that it took pressure off me.

    “At times when the deadline is approaching for something, Helen would ring me or send me a polite reminder notice. It really showed that she cared for my success.

    One key point that I feel is important to mention about Helen is her ability to explain things at its simplest form. This was super helpful, especially as I was writing my reflective statements.”

    Vitality - PWC Apprentice

    “Having successfully passed all of my exams by December 2020 I was in a great position to enter the Gateway review and commence the end point assessment (EPA). However, I suddenly got very ill where both my physical and mental health suffered greatly.

    “Despite this setback, with the help and support of the wonderful PwC PQ team and Kaplan leads, we were able to construct a new timetable that allowed me to complete the EPA on time.

    “It was then up to me to put in the hours and work hard to complete it. This simply would not have been possible without the exceptional support and guidance from Helen, my talent coach.

    “She went above and beyond to ensure I was able to achieve this. She was a kind and reassuring voice and found solutions to any and every query or worry that I had!

    “It truly was a proud moment to receive an email from Kaplan detailing that I had achieved a Distinction in my portfolio. Helen and I had built a fantastic and authentic relationship during our time working together and were both absolutely thrilled with the outcome.”

    Abbie - PWC Apprentice

    We are extremely proud of all of the learners and Talent Coaches, and congratulate them on their hard earned success.

    Interested in Apprenticeships?

    Whether you’re a student wanting to progress in your career, or an employer with staff you’d like to nurture, an Apprenticeship could be the right option for you.

    Find out more about our apprenticeships.

  • Don’t just take our word for it

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 05, 2021

    Our learners share their experiences studying with Kaplan and explain why they’d recommend us as a training provider.

    We spoke to learners studying across a range of qualifications and study methods to understand their experience of Kaplan. Here’s what they had to say.

    The tutors and talent coaches

    Aaron Irons, CIMA:

    “I loved the way the lectures were run, I had literally no issues whatsoever with Kaplan whilst I studied. The tutors were great and if there was ever an issue you could just drop them an email. They’d also stay 5-15 minutes after class if you needed them to.”

    Apoorva Rawat, Oxford Brookes, ACCA:

    “I chose Kaplan first of all because of its quality. I’d read a lot of testimonials on the web page. I also chose it because of the tutors, I found a lot of them in the approved list, provided by the University.

    “My experience was pretty amazing. You wouldn't really believe it, but I actually got infected by Corona during the research stage of my assessment, and I told my Kaplan tutor that I didn't know what to do, so she said ‘let's apply for an extension’ and got it all sorted for me.

    “Luckily I did get the extension, as it allowed me to submit my best work which led to me winning the Best Research Analysis Project Prize. Kaplan was a good support and guiding experience. My tutor actually adjusted a lot of things for me, such as my schedules and stuff like that. It was a very good experience.”

    Tianna Oti, Accounting Apprentice:

    “Talent coaches are really friendly and open to helping out in any way they can.

    “I have regular catch ups with my talent coach who assesses me on my progress, gives me a training log and sets me regular targets. I’m also allowed to invite my managers along to meetings, so there's a real sense of openness between my manager and my Kaplan talent coach.

    “I can also get 24 hour support because there's a number or an email you can use to contact someone. I never feel like I’m alone whilst I am studying, which I find quite comforting. So if I have a last minute question, I can just go into my KapApp and they get back to me within 24 hours.

    “Finally, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in early 2020, and then got my role in September 2020. There was a lot out there to help me with my disability. I had a good relationship with one of my tutors and if it wasn't for her, I wouldn't have known what support I could have gotten.”

    The study materials

    Aaron Irons, CIMA:

    “The materials, and everything that gets sent out, come in a big box. And there are revision cards and everything like that, so I definitely recommend Kaplan 100%. I had no issues whatsoever with Kaplan. It's been brilliant.”

    Apoorva Rawat, Oxford Brookes, ACCA:

    “All of my textbooks have always been from Kaplan. And the reason why I do not go for a competitor is because it's less detailed. With Kaplan if you study the whole textbook you know it’s coming up in the paper, so yeah I've been using Kaplan for all of my papers since F1, even right now as I am preparing for SBR.”

    Tianna Oti, Accounting Apprentice:

    “In terms of the resources you're given, they are very easy to navigate. The study materials I use are structured in a way that if you've never done accounting before, it's easy to use. The teachers also teach in that way.

    “We've got a mini pocket book that you can take on the go, wherever you're going to study. Then we've got a big workbook, a textbook and a mark scheme. It's all really organised and tidy so it helps, because part of the problem with studying sometimes is keeping organised and that can be overwhelming. Also, there's an endless amount of resources because we get access to an online portal as well - myKaplan.”

    The flexibility of study

    Aaron Irons, CIMA:

    “I studied Live Online. I think I mostly did the weekday sessions where it was 6-8:30pm on a Tuesday, and 6-8:30pm on Thursdays. So it was about 5 hours a week. I think the other option was to do the weekend, which is what I did on my final exam. It’s good as you have many options depending on what you need.”

    Apoorva Rawat, Oxford Brookes, ACCA:

    “I started studying ACCA in India, so with OnDemand I can access the resources online and study whenever I want. I just love flexibility. I avoid commitments so I love things that can be done whenever you want.”

    Tianna Oti, Accounting Apprentice:

    “Because of COVID I studied Live Online. With my MS, this helped as well because I wasn't able to be as mobile at times and it just helped that I could study from home and after work. Also all of the sessions are recorded and saved, so if you can't attend, you can always watch the recording back. I found them useful and I've passed all my exams, first time, so far.”


    Looking to take your next steps?

    Take our Help Me Choose quiz and discover the accountancy career path to suit you.

  • Salary estimates for an Apprentice Accountant in the UK

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 14, 2021

    As an apprentice accountant studying towards an intermediate (level 2), advanced (level 3) or higher (level 4-7) apprenticeship, you don’t have to give up earning a full-time salary. The government funds your studies through your employer as you learn knowledge, skills and behaviours specific to your role. But how much do accountancy apprentices typically earn?

    In this article, we bring you up-to-date information on the salary you can expect as an accounting apprentice in the UK. And how salaries can differ by role, level of qualification, and location.

    Student salaries are up 10%

    The good news is the average salary for accounting students is on the rise. According to the AAT Salary Survey 2021, student salaries are up 10% since 2019.

    The Association of Accounting Technicians’ research was particularly positive for students taking the apprenticeship route, revealing students on apprenticeships are 11% more satisfied than students not on apprenticeships – 83% vs 72%.

    What is the minimum I will earn?

    There are strict Government guidelines on the minimum apprenticeship wage. It’s linked to your age and how long you've been an apprentice, but many employers pay more than is legally required. They know that to attract good candidates, they need to offer a good salary.

    How much can I expect to earn at each level of my apprenticeship?

    How much you earn also depends on your prior accountancy knowledge, which qualification you are working towards and where in the UK you work. Apprentice accountants in popular locations with a higher cost of living like London, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds tend to be paid more. On average, salaries in the south are higher than in the north.

    There are several levels of apprenticeship, each providing a gateway into different accountancy/finance roles:

    Level 2 accounting apprenticeships are the equivalent of 5 GCSEs at A* to C grade (or 9 to 4 on the new scale). You could be working in an entry-level role such as credit controller, accounts/finance assistant or junior clerk on a starting salary between £10,000 and £14,000.

    Level 3 accounting apprenticeships are equivalent to two A-level passes. At this stage, you’ll be stepping into an assistant accountant, advanced credit controller or trainee accounting technician role. These involve more responsibility, so your starting salary will be between £11,000 and £16,000.

    Level 4 accounting apprenticeships are the next stage up from A-levels, Level 3 BTECs, Scottish Highers and other equivalents. You could work as a trainee tax adviser or internal audit practitioner, and expect a starting salary of between £12,000 and £17,000.

    Level 7 accounting apprenticeships are for those aspiring to become leaders in accountancy, taxation, finance and business. They include chartered accountant apprenticeship pathways with ACCA, CIMA or ACA. You’ll provide financial information and advice to organisations big and small, and play a key part in the financial health of the organisation, so salary expectations rise to between £14,000 and £18,000.

    Graduate accounting apprenticeships give you the opportunity to gain a full bachelor’s or master’s degree. You can work as an accounts manager or accounts technician, and expect to earn between £16,000 and £20,000.

    Will I get paid to learn?

    Yes! Time spent on training is included as part of your regular working hours, which means you will be paid for it. You’ll spend at least 20% of your working time being trained.

    Which areas of the UK offer the best pay for apprentice accountants?

    Current AAT research shows that London is the top paying region for accounting students in the UK. On average, there is a 32% difference in salaries between London and the lowest paying regions in the North East and North West.

    What can I expect to earn as a qualified accountant?

    As you progress through the apprenticeship levels you will become more qualified – and therefore more employable. Your salary will reflect that, and rise as you gain your qualifications.

    There’s certainly plenty of incentive to move up the ladder in this sector as, according to Accountancy Age, the average salary for accountants in the UK is £63,715.

    Where can I find an accountancy apprenticeship?

    At Kaplan, our recruitment team receives hundreds of apprenticeship vacancies from employers each year looking to hire new talent. Take a look at our live accounting apprentice job opportunities across the UK and find the right opportunity for you.

  • Recruit an apprentice and get £3,000, or more, for your business

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 20, 2021

    You already know that apprentices free up valuable time, bring fresh ideas, and add value to any business, whilst learning professional and technical skills in the workplace.

    But did you know about the government incentive offering your business £3,000 to £5,000*, to spend on anything you wish?

    Your business can take advantage of the scheme, which includes:

    • A £3,000 payment for each apprentice you recruit of any age
    • An additional £1,000 payment for apprentices you recruit aged 16-18 years old
    • An additional £1,000 payment for apprentices you recruit aged under 25 with an education, health and care plan or who has been in the care of their local authority
    • No limits on your business size
    • No limits to the number of incentives you can claim

    You can even use our free, expert recruitment service to discover new apprentices, with no cost to you if you choose us as your training provider**. We screen the best talent and match them to your business needs, as well as:

    • Advertising your roles
    • Searching our existing database of over 900 active candidates
    • Proactively searching for new candidates

    Our accountancy, tax, banking, and finance apprenticeship programmes are completely flexible and can be started anytime. And our data and IT programmes have multiple cohorts throughout the year.

    The window has recently been extended for apprentices starting employment between 1st October 2021 and 31st January 2022, with applications opening in January.

    Get in touch with our team and start your recruitment process now.

    * £3000 per apprentice, based on government incentive. Plus additional incentive of £1000 for hiring a 16-18 year old apprentice or apprentice under 25 year old with an education, health and care plan or who has been in the care of their local authority
    ** charges may apply if the apprentice does not study with Kaplan or uses an alternative provider

  • Kaplan Podcast - University vs Apprenticeships

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 05, 2021

    We discuss the big question: What do I do next?

    Kaplan’s Learn Better Podcast is our brand new series, covering topical subjects to support our past, present, and future learners to succeed in both their studies and careers.

    In our first episode, host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning, and guest, help clarify the differences between pursuing the University vs Apprenticeships route into work.

    Joined by Apprenticeships Partnerships Director, Jenny Pelling, this episode covers where the job market is going, the difference in learning experiences, and how apprenticeships have become a genuine alternative to University.

    From practical application, to freedom of exploration, and the importance of money to personal development, this podcast will help you to understand the key questions you must ask yourself to decide what route is right for you.

    Key topics:

    • Pros and cons of Apprenticeships
    • Pros and cons of University
    • Where the job market is going
    • What questions you need to ask yourself to make an informed decision
    • Where to find further information.

    Tune in now to join the discussion.

  • Mental Fitness for the Long Term

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 22, 2021

    In our recent Mental Fitness webinar series, we share practical guidance on how best to maintain your health. Kaplan knows it is important for our learners to be mentally fit and to feel confident, especially as we look to return to life outside of the lockdown.

    To support awareness and understanding we created a series of webinars, sharing practical guidance and discussing key topics to help you to adapt and strengthen your own mental fitness.

    Joined by expert mental health speaker, Ross McWilliam of Mindset Pro, we cover the transition from working from home, foundations for long term mental fitness, and how to develop your emotional confidence.

    This three part series aimed to help us prepare for both short and long term challenges, whilst gaining healthy habits to aid in strengthening overall mental fitness.

    Key topics

    Episode 1: Mental fitness now: how to adapt to the transition from WFH to hybrid or office working.


    • How stress can both help and hinder our performance
    • The wide variation of COVID responses and their validity
    • Behaviour in the workplace: listen to understand rather than listening to interrupt

    Episode 2: Mental fitness for the long term: foundations to build upon


    • The five pillars of well-being
    • How to avoid reaching burn-out
    • Employing proactive coping strategies

    Episode 3: Gaining emotional confidence: overcoming Imposter Syndrome and how to maximise performance


    • Recognising and managing Imposter Syndrome
    • How to maintain self-esteem and confidence
    • How mental fitness can help you to progress in your professional and personal lives

    Interested in finding out more?

    After the initial three seminars were so well received, with a 97% score being given for speaker satisfaction, we're running six more webinars. From September we will be running one a month covering relevant and helpful topics to support your mental fitness.

    The seminars were useful for confidence in the workplace after a challenging year. Lots of techniques to build on and share.

    - seminar delegate

    Follow us on social media to stay up to date on the upcoming seminars.

  • Do I need to be good at maths to study accountancy?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 08, 2021

    This could be the shortest blog in the world if we just said - no, you don’t need to be good at maths to study accountancy. But we thought you’d like to know why maths isn’t the be all and end all of being an accountant.

    There’s much more to accountancy than calculations, and you might already have the skills to make you great at it.

    What level of maths do I need then?

    To enrol on an entry level accounting course, such as AAT Foundation, you need a decent grasp of maths, preferably GCSE grade 9-4 (A*-C). So you don’t need to be a maths genius, or have a maths degree.

    What skills do I need to be an accountant?

    So we’ve established you don’t need incredibly sophisticated maths skills. But you will need to have good analytical skills, alongside an attention to detail. You’ll need to be able to spot anomalies and analyse why they could be there, and report to the business your findings.

    Good communication skills are also essential. You’ll have to be able to explain potentially complicated accounting in layman’s terms. The people you’ll be talking to might not completely understand the world of accountancy - it’s your job to make sure they comprehend what’s going on in their finances.

    Being organised is accountant 101. You’ll need to be able to keep track of multiple accounts, meet deadlines, and follow proper reporting procedures. You’ll need to be able to keep track of paperwork - one missing piece could cause massive delays for your business or client.

    Time management goes hand in hand with being organised. Financial reporting adheres to strict deadlines, so you can’t just put off something you don’t want to do, or take too long working on one issue. Hitting deadlines is something that will need to be second nature.

    Computer literacy and the ability to adapt to new software is very important too. When you study accounting you’ll learn about different software packages, but the business you go into may use something different. You’ll need to learn quickly and get to grips with their systems.

    Being proficient with spreadsheets is also a great skill to have - you might want to do a separate Excel course to make sure you’re comfortable with them.

    What can I earn as an accountant?

    Like any other career, it can depend on location and experience. But the average UK salary for an accountant is £42,500* per year. This can rise to well over £100,000 if you become a Chief Financial Officer - so a career in accounting can be rather lucrative.

    Interested in accounting?

    If you’re ready to find out more, have a look at AAT - it’s the start of a great accounting career.


  • Kaplan ranked 8th place in the RateMyApprenticeship’s Top 50 Training Providers

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 08, 2021

    Kaplan have been shortlisted and ranked highly in the RateMyApprenticeship Top Training Providers Table 2021-2022.

    (Updated July 2021)

    The RateMyApprenticeship Awards took place on 15th July, and we are delighted to not only be shortlisted, but to be ranked 8th place. 

    The table consists of the top 50 training providers based on 6,000 student-written reviews, spanning across all apprenticeship and school leaver schemes on RateMyApprenticeship.

    At the awards, all of the Top Training Providers were announced in descending order along with the winners of the other awards.

    Last year we ranked 10th out of 300 providers, so are very proud to be recognised again, and to also surpass our previous accomplishment. It's great acknowledgment of our continued dedication to supporting our learners again this year.

    We’ve had to make changes due to the corona outbreak. Moving away from physical classrooms to online classrooms and working hard to add that community and social element to the learning experience, so that people still feel part of a group

    - Richard Marsh - Apprenticeship Partnerships Director

    The Awards took place virtually on Thursday 15th July 2021. To see the full ranking list please visit their page.  

  • WorldSkills National Qualifiers are almost here

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jul 08, 2021

    Apprentices across the UK will compete to secure a place in the WorldSkills UK LIVE finals.

    Kaplan values showcasing the talent of UK apprentices, as well as recognising their hard work. So we are extremely proud to be hosting the WorldSkills Accounting Technician competition this year.

    WorldSkills UK is an independent charity and a partnership between employers, education and governments who support young people across the world via competitions-based training, assessment and benchmarking.

    The Qualifiers for the National Accounting Technician competition are due to take place on Thursday 15th July and will be held via Zoom.

    The team competition is aimed at learners currently undertaking a Level 3 apprenticeship or higher, those with an equivalent qualification (e.g. HND in Accounting), or those who have completed one of these within the past 12 months.

    Designed by our industry expert Kaplan tutors, the competition looks to assess knowledge, practical skills and employability attributes of competitors. It also helps develop qualities valued by employers such as team work, problem solving, time management, judgment and working under pressure.

    A total of 16 made it through the initial stage and will be taking part in the Qualifiers in mid July.

    The qualifying teams are from Lloyds Banking Group, Oldham College, Lincoln College, Bridgend College, City of Glasgow College, and Riverside College.

    Each team will have two hours to complete a case study task and present it back to the three judges. The results will then be announced within a few weeks to see who will move forward to compete in the National Finals in November.

    We’ll be sharing further details following the results, so keep an eye out to see who will progress, and for the full details of the UK LIVE finals.

    For more information about WorldSkills UK and the competitions check out their website.

  • Learning from our apprentices - full report

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 25, 2021

    At Kaplan, we’re always interested in trying new methods to understand our learners and how their programmes impact their life and career. So, in January 2020, we took the first steps on an ambitious ten year study of 20 apprentices to find out.

    If this sounds in any way familiar, you may be correct. The idea for this study took inspiration from the “Seven Up” documentary series.

    This highly influential series was led by Michael Apted, as he set out to interview 14 British school children from different socio-economic backgrounds. This was done every seven years from the age of seven, and continued over several decades.

    Gaining insights into apprentices

    Whilst we are not expecting to receive the same acclaim or create ground-breaking television, we want to try and gain rich insights into the experiences of our apprentices, not just during their studies, but also after completion of their programmes and well into their careers.

    We hoped to gain a deeper understanding as to how completing an apprenticeship affected a learner’s development, attitude to work and future prospects.

    Whilst we couldn’t anticipate what was in store for the apprentices taking part in our study in 2020 (or the larger world), they were all eager to continue, and we were fascinated to see how agile and adaptable our learners were in such difficult circumstances.

    The study going forward

    In early 2020 we held initial conversations to identify 20 volunteers across a range of clients, apprenticeship standards and levels. With the approval of their employers, the apprentices were contacted about the project and agreed on the following aspects of the study going forward:

    • Apprentice of our Time interviews will run from 2020 to 2030.
    • Every six months whilst ‘on programme’, they are contacted by phone/video conference to answer questions on: their development, career progression, perception of the value of apprenticeships, what they would recommend to others about apprenticeships, and where they predict they will be in five years’ time.
    • After completing the apprenticeship, they will be interviewed every twelve months.
    • Responses from the interviews are kept anonymous, but insights and findings are shared in an annual report in the first quarter of every year.
    • We will also disseminate the findings with our senior leadership team and external assurance board and utilise the apprentices' insights to inform programme amendments and adjustments to our provision.
    • Our apprentices’ words will provide guidance to those following in their footsteps.

    We are immensely grateful to our clients who are supporting us with this project and to our 2020 Apprentices of Our Time.

    Initial findings

    We have compiled the first of our findings from this study into a report - “Apprentice of our Time”. Some of the key findings show just how much of an impact apprenticeships have for businesses and the apprentices themselves.

    Read the report - Apprentice of our Time

    If you’re interested in apprenticeships you can find out more on our pages for learners and employers.

  • The Data Analyst Apprenticeship has been revised

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 16, 2021

    Here we break down the changes through an infographic.

    The Data Analyst apprenticeship empowers people to break down data into clear and actionable information.

    It gives apprentices the chance to learn the process for requirement-gathering, inspecting, cleansing, transforming and modelling data with the goal of discovering useful information, informing conclusions and supporting decision-making.

    And it provides essential upskilling for employers in any sector where data is used for business decisions.

    Here are the recent changes that have been made to Level 4 Data Analyst Apprenticeship.

    Data Analyst Apprenticeship Infographic
  • Upskilling at work - the Data Technician Apprentice

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jun 16, 2021

    A marketing manager and a Kaplan employee, Alex Devall started a Data Technician course to help boost his career prospects. Here is his story. 

    Hi Alex, why study a Data Technician Apprenticeship?

    I wanted to address a skill (and weakness!) that I didn’t have.

    So far in my marketing career I’ve been largely focused on writing and communications so this area (data) was neglected. When I first started working in marketing data analytics was nowhere near as prevalent as it is now, but today many business decisions are based on interpreting data.

    The course suits me as it’s more of an entry level programme. It teaches you how to read data that has been taken from different sources and communicate to stakeholders in a meaningful and actionable way.

    How’s it going so far?

    I’ve been doing it for 3 months now (from March 2021). It’s going well. I’m enjoying the way it’s taught.

    If I compare it to the way my uni degree was taught then it comes across particularly well. They really mix things up in a way that keeps you on your toes.

    They teach you for a bit and then move onto interactive exercises and mini assessments to make sure you are constantly engaging with the learning material.

    However, at uni I could be studying a topic for a long time and not really have those ‘check in’ moments where I am getting live feedback or bouncing ideas off other students.

    The course is great because I’m always aware of my weaknesses and where I need to improve. So there’s a greater chance I am prepared going into the exam.

    Have there been any major challenges thus far?

    It’s hard to say because it’s early days. But learning through Live Online was something I needed to adapt to as it’s totally new to me. I must say though, Kaplan did a really good job in easing me into it.

    Live Online is just like being in a classroom - but virtual. It’s a live environment, with a breakout room, and it is really engaging. Similar to a classroom, you have to be engaged in the discussion.

    I didn’t think it would be like that. I thought it might be isolating and that I might feel quite removed from everything, but it isn’t like that at all. You can’t really get away with being mentally detached.

    They give you onboarding exercises to make sure you are comfortable with everything and that everyone is on the same page.

    I’m in with a nice cohort of other students and the tutor knows us all individually at this point.

    What are you looking to use the qualification for? Is it helping with your role?

    It helps with my job as it improves my reporting and understanding the various channels we use, therefore helping me make informed decisions. During the pandemic all financial consequences have been heightened, so there is a stronger emphasis on working more efficiently.

    In terms of my future role I think it will really help in the way shape narratives around performance to major stakeholders throughout the business. As I progress to management level there will be more emphasis on communicating data to wider stakeholders to inform big consequential decisions.

    How are you fitting it in with your job?

    The balancing act was something I was worried about before I started. I got promoted around the same time of starting this course too so I was concerned I would be overwhelmed. But the company and my line manager have been really supportive.

    We carefully plan the time out in my diary so that I can comfortably take on the apprenticeship, in addition to my job responsibilities.

    My apprenticeship is clearly benefiting my job so there are few complaints at the moment. My job and course are so relevant to each other it only feels like a positive to be doing both. Having a supportive manager and company really helps.

    Having said that, it is a bit of a challenge balancing both, but it’s more than worth the extra effort.

    Any final thoughts?

    For future apprentices, I would say make all invested parties aware of what workload you have for both your job and your course so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Set the expectations as early as possible so you are all on the same page - then it’s happy days.

    For more information on our data analytics course, please see our Data Technician Apprenticeship standard.

  • Kaplan’s apprentice success at the 2021 BAME apprenticeship awards

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 27, 2021

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

    (Updated 1st October 2021) 

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

    This year, these were the categories that were up for grabs:

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

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


    We encouraged our apprentices to submit entries for the 2021 awards, and are delighted to report that the following Kaplan apprentices were shortlisted:

    Accounting and finance category:

    Omolade Ojo - Lloyds Banking Group

    Prem Manimaran - PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC)

    Tianna Oti - RSA

    Melissa Boadu - Jigsaw Business Solutions Ltd

    Judges choice:

    Brian Kasanda - EY

    Last night (30th September) the event was held in person with over 500 people attending to celebrate and showcase BAME talent, their employers and learning providers.

    We are happy to announce the success of Kaplan apprentices, Prem Manimaran and Omolade Ojo. Prem Manimaran came away with the title of Apprentice of the Year in the Accounting and Finance category, and in the same category Omolade Ojo was named as highly commended. We would like to congratulate all the nominees and winners for their outstanding achievements. 

    It is great to see so much talent recognised this year at the awards, especially as the presentation combined the 2020 and 2021 award winners for the in person event.

    You can now watch last night's presentation here, and for more information on how we did last year, read our previous awards blog. 

  • Top 4 biggest myths about studying Data Analytics

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 20, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I need a huge budget

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

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

    And it’s never been more affordable.

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

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

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

    I need “big data”

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

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

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

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

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

    Data Analytics leads to job losses

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

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

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

    Final thoughts

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

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

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

    For more information please see our data analytics course page.


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

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 29, 2021

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

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

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

    What new programmes are launching?

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

    They are:

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

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

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

    Jason Moss, Director of Digital Apprenticeship development, comments:

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

    Interested in one of our new digital apprenticeships?

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

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

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

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 18, 2021

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

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

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

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

    - Gillian Keegan, Apprenticeships and Skills Minister.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 2021 Budget extends Apprenticeship deadline and boosts incentive

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 03, 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

  • Avoiding unconscious bias through blind recruitment

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 02, 2021

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

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

    What is unconscious bias?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Diversity also boosts performance

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

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

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

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

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


  • Kaplan ranked 5th place in the RateMyApprenticeship’s Top 50 Training Providers

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Aug 09, 2022

    Kaplan has been shortlisted again and increased by 3 places in the RateMyApprenticeship Top Training Providers Table 2022-2023.

    Based on 6,000 learner-written reviews, the virtual award ceremony took place on the 20th July. And we are delighted that our own apprentices have allowed us to move up the ranks for the second year in a row.

    Last year we achieved 8th place, so it’s very rewarding to know that our learners are seeing the benefit of all the hard work and continual improvements we strive to make at Kaplan.

    We're honoured that our learners have voted Kaplan higher again this year, and are seeing the benefits of our wider apprenticeship curriculum offer. We have plans in place for even more improvements in the year ahead.

    - Jenny Pelling, Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity

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