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  • Guide to the new apprenticeship funding system

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 23, 2020

    Following government changes to the way smaller employers can organise and pay for Apprenticeships, we thought we’d share the most up to date information.

    So here are a series of Youtube “How to” videos, directly uploaded by the ESFA. This offers further insight into the changes that have been made, so you can adapt quickly.

    How to...create an account and accept the employer agreement on the apprenticeship service

    How to...reserve funding, add an apprentice, and use the recruitment tool

    Transition arrangements for smaller employers joining the apprenticeship service.

    For any further information or support on the changes to Apprenticeships, please visit our Employers page.

  • 20% off-the-job training: our top ten tips for 2020

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 21, 2020

    2020 marks the three year anniversary of compulsory off-the-job learning time for apprentices.

    Over the years, the rules* concerning off-the-job time have evolved, but some confusion about the 20% off-the-job training time remains.

    The off-the-job time is designed to set apprentices up for success. So here are our top ten tips for employers to help steer you in the right direction for 2020.

    1. What counts as off-the-job?

      The term off-the-job may appear ambiguous, as it suggests apprentices physically need to be away from their work premises for it to apply. This isn't the case and training can happen in the workplace. To see if the activity in question can count as off-the-job time for your apprentice, make sure you can answer yes to these three questions:

      1. Is the activity directly relevant to the Apprenticeship standard?
      2. Is the activity imparting new knowledge, skills or behaviours?
      3. Is the learning being completed in the apprentice's normal working hours?

      Questions a) and b) are non-negotiable: the answer has to be yes. There are exceptions to c). Sometimes there may be an evening activity, such as a relevant networking event or skills development session, at which new learning would be acquired and which is directly relevant to the standard. If that's the case, then it's fine to count the time as off the job even though it's not within ‘normal working hours' as long as compensation is given (such as time off in lieu).

    2. Off-the-job time needs to be quantified at the start

      The key Apprenticeship documents state:

      1. The quantity of off-the-job time being delivered (which is included in the Apprenticeship agreement). We will calculate this dependent on the working hours of the apprentice - whether they are full-time or part-time, and the duration of the Apprenticeship training period.
      2. The planned off-the-job training (which is included in the commitment statement).

    3. Be realistic about the amount of off-the-job time from the outset

      It's important to stress that the 20% figure is the bare minimum. It's there to help learners be successful in their Apprenticeship. If 20% off-the-job time isn't given, then it isn't a valid Apprenticeship.

      If employers can't commit to providing 20% off-the-job time, then they should enrol learners with us on Kaplan courses not funded by the levy or government contributions, rather than Kaplan Apprenticeships.

      The 20% off-the-job time is so important to Apprenticeship regulations that if an employer isn't providing the time, then the Apprenticeship would have to be stopped.

    4. Off-the-job time isn't given for the entire duration of the Apprenticeship

      With Apprenticeship standards, an employer has to give the apprentice at least 20% off-the-job time from the first day in learning, to the final day of the training period.

      The final day of the training period is counted as the point at which the apprentice goes through ‘gateway' and enters the end point assessment phase. So, it's not the entire Apprenticeship duration.

      As an example, if a learner started an Apprenticeship standard in January 2020 and was due to get to the ‘gateway' end point assessment period in August 2021 and complete the full Apprenticeship in December 2021, off-the-job time would be given from January 2020 to August 2021. Not from January 2020 to December 2021.

    5. Off-the-job time isn't given during statutory holiday

      When we're calculating the number of off-the-job hours required, we remove 28 days per year. This is the maximum amount of holiday (including bank holidays) which is allowed to be taken into account. Even if you as an employer give more than that, we can only remove 28 days from the calculation.

    6. 20% doesn't have to mean one day per week

      Many employers assume that 20% means one day per week and needs to be spent training. A clean-cut way is indeed to provide one day a week as study leave, but it doesn't have to be that prescriptive.

      In our experience, it's helpful for apprentices to have some time which is ring-fenced as study time, e.g. half a day as study time, which is then supplemented with time for revision, additional learning, relevant work-shadowing, etc.

    7. Make inductions count

      The rules don't allow for inductions to be included in the off-the-job time calculation if they just involve showing somebody where various facilities are or introductions to the team.

      However, if your induction includes actual training and skills development which are directly relevant to the standard, then this can be included. This is as long as the induction is taking place once the Apprenticeship paperwork with Kaplan is complete and falls after the first Apprenticeship date in learning.

      We know many employers have very comprehensive inductions into new roles, sometimes including up to 2 weeks of technical training. Get in touch with us whilst you're thinking about what induction training can count, before launching an Apprenticeship programme, so we can help you.

    8. Be careful though as not all training counts

      A training programme which forms part of the Apprenticeship is clearly going to count towards the off-the-job calculation. Relevant and new employer training can also count, as can relevant work-shadowing, networking and skills shows.

      However, not all learning does count, so watch out for these:

      • If a learner needs to achieve Maths and English ‘functional skills' for example as they don't have GCSE certificates in those subjects, then any learning towards achieving Maths and English must be in addition and can not count towards the 20% off the job time.
      • Travel time to a teaching session doesn't count.
      • Exams don't count towards off-the-job time.

      • Writing assignments and time spent during the training period on revision does count, even though it is rehearsing already learnt material.

      And remember, the learning has to be directly relevant to the standard.

      If you feel confused by this, don't worry, as we will guide you through this as your training provider.

    9. Embrace flexibility of delivery methods

      The 20% has to be achieved in work time. So if you only allow your students to study in the evenings and weekends, and don't give any compensation such as time off in lieu, then this won't be compliant.

      However, if adopting a day release model doesn't work for your business, you can still make the most of the flexibility Kaplan can offer in terms of delivery. So for instance, if you offered time off in lieu, you could still use courses which are held in the evening.

    10. Encourage your apprentices to keep records of their learning

      For apprentices who started from 1 August 2019, we have to record the volume of planned off-the-job training hours from the outset on an Apprenticeship document which we submit for audit, called the Individualised Learner Record.

      From 1 August 2020, we will also have to stipulate the actual number of off-the-job hours delivered. We ask all apprentices to complete a training log. This is where their Talent Coaches will review with your learners what training they've received to make sure the minimum of 20% is being adhered to and recorded.

    We hope this guide helps make sense of the 20% off-the-job training requirement and makes it feel more achievable. We've worked in partnership with many clients, on the design of Apprenticeship programmes, and are full of admiration for how you approach learning in your organisation.

    We're here to make sure you are comfortable with how off-the-job training time will work for you and your apprentices. Please contact your Kaplan account manager if you wish to discuss anything further.

    *Apprenticeship rules can change. This article is correct as at 1 January 2020 but may be subject to change. Please check the full government document for the latest guidance.

  • Changes to the Apprenticeship funding system, in England

    by User Not Found | Dec 17, 2019

    The Government has announced that from the 1st January 2020 there will be changes to the way smaller employers can organise and pay for Apprenticeships.

    Employers with a pay bill of less than £3m per year will now be able to use the online Apprenticeship Service (sometimes called the ‘DAS’ or ‘TAS’ system) to organise and pay for their Apprenticeships.

    This system gives employers access to a whole range of Digital services and will allow all employers to:

    • Select a training provider (such as Kaplan)
    • Advertise an Apprenticeship vacancy
    • Reserve funding for Apprenticeship training (up to 95% of the costs)

    You’ll need to set up an account on the online Apprenticeship Service and to do this will need to have a Government gateway ID or an Accounts Office ID.

    These are special passwords that HMRC issues when you register your business for online services.

    If you’d like support in setting up your account, or would like any further info, please call the National Apprenticeship Service helpline 08000 150 600 or speak to your Kaplan contact.

  • You voted for us as a Top Apprentice Trainer - thank you!

    by User Not Found | Aug 06, 2019

    Thanks to our current apprentices, we are now one of RateMyApprenticeship's Top 50 UK Training Providers for 2019-2020. We came in 4th place and we’re so grateful to everyone who voted for us.

    Votes came from current apprentices who reviewed over 300 training providers. We were the highest rated accountancy firm on the list, and placed higher than big brands and educational companies, including Siemens, Manchester Metropolitan University, and the Open University.

    Did you know?

    We train over 5,000 apprentices every year, and 75 of the FTSE 100 companies use us for training. We have a team of over 200 qualified and expert tutors to deliver top rated courses around the country.

    The award ceremony was held in July and celebrated the achievements of apprentices, employers, schools, colleges, and apprentice training providers. There were over 350 guests on the night and it was a dynamic and fun event.

    The audience was treated to an afternoon of inspiring speakers including: Tim Campbell (MBE and winner of the BBC’s The Apprentice), and Jamala Osman (winner of Britain and Ireland’s 2018 Young Citizen Award and TEDx Speaker). There was also a panel discussion with business leaders from across the industry.

    The Top 50 table is now live on the RateMyApprenticeship Awards site.

    Thank you once again to everyone who voted for us - it’s fantastic to know that we’re providing the training you need.

  • End Point Assessments - the new way to quality assure Apprenticeships

    by User Not Found | Jul 12, 2019

    Meet Emily and Billie, two successful apprentices at York based Accountants - Garbutt and Elliott.

    With the help of the new End Point Assessments, we see how their AAT level Apprenticeships are driving them to career success.

    The EPAs are a new addition to Finance Apprenticeships. They encourage the apprentice to reflect on their learnings and identify the new skills they've acquired, since starting their course.

    It's been really great for me because it gives a structure to my work

    - Billie Godley

    As the new Accountancy Apprenticeship standards enter their third year of operation, more students and employers are preparing to take, or have taken, an End Point Assessment.

  • AAT Apprentice - combining work and study

    by User Not Found | Jun 06, 2019

    Meet Abby Lacey. She’s 42, and an Office Manager for Thames Valley Berkshire LEP Ltd.  A recent AAT Apprentice with Kaplan, she’s now looking to progress to Level 7.

    In a previous life, she was a self-employed virtual PA who did some bookkeeping. She had ambitions to qualify, but time and finances wouldn’t allow it.

    Here is her story...


    How did you get onto the Apprenticeship?

    My CEO suggested I look into different qualifications. I thought an Apprenticeship would be great not only for me, but for our company. We are a small operation, with only ten staff, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have an apprentice!

    Will you continue to progress through other levels?

    I’d like to progress to Level 7 in the long term, but time and finances are always an issue!

    What is your long term goal?

    I’m happy in my current role but hope, in the medium term, to expand my financial responsibilities. In the long term I’d like to work for myself, and this qualification will really help.

    What support did you receive from Kaplan? Can you see the benefit of training with a provider vs doing it on your own?

    I have an excellent Talent Coach and am studying in the classroom. Kaplan has been brilliant for me and I wouldn’t change it! From the student services department, to my tutor and the admin staff at Reading, everyone has been really helpful.

    What’s been the hardest part about your AAT and how did you deal with that?

    Not passing AVBK the first time round.

    Having been out of study for many years, and being a perfectionist, it was difficult to admit  defeat, but thankfully I have a great boss and a supportive network of colleagues, friends and family. They boosted me, and luckily I passed the next time round.

    Have you managed a good work-life balance throughout your studies?

    It’s fairly tricky, but I’m able to have one day a week away from work. I also have a very understanding husband and son who leave me to it.

    You do have to be disciplined and stick to your plan.

    Do you have any advice for people looking to work in the accountancy industry?

    An Apprenticeship is a really good way of combining work and study, if it’s available to you.

    Accountancy is a great industry as it’s so varied. You can be working as a sole trading bookkeeper or working in large corporate departments – there’s something for everyone.
  • Apprenticeships - Is this the right career choice for you?

    by User Not Found | May 08, 2019

    Which career path will you take?

    After finishing school or college, the options and career routes now available can seem overwhelming. But it’s important you consider them all before choosing your next move.

    Many employers are now offering attractive Apprenticeship schemes. These cover a range of professional sectors (including Accountancy, Law, Banking and Engineering).

    Attitudes towards Apprenticeships have changed, and they’re now recognised as a great way to start or enhance your career.

    Here, we compare the options to help with your decision.

    Apprenticeship or university infographic

    Consider what’s right for you

    Make a list of what’s important to you and then speak to as many people as you can who have either been to University or chosen an Apprenticeship to find out about their experiences. Compare what they’ve told you with what you are looking for.

    Deciding what to do won’t be easy, but remember there isn’t a ‘wrong path’. If at any point you feel that you have made the wrong choice, you can easily switch to either a University degree or an Apprenticeship in the next academic year.

    The world of work is more flexible than it’s ever been and future employers will respect you for having the confidence to change path. Make sure you take time to decide which option is best for you.

    Next steps?

    If you would like more information about the Apprenticeship programmes offered at Kaplan, please email our team

  • PQ awards winner – an Apprenticeship role model

    by User Not Found | May 02, 2019

    Zane Salmon, one of our AAT Apprentices, was victorious at the 2019 PQ Awards - named Apprentice of the Year.

    The national awards celebrate Accountancy success – across all areas of the profession: from the tutors, to training providers, to the learners themselves.

    Zane is an exceptionally hardworking apprentice and his record speaks for itself: achieving an average of 97% when studying Level 2 AAT with Kaplan.

    His upwards trajectory continued. With Level 3 AAT, after completing two units, he scored  94% and 83% respectively. He’s now on-course for a Distinction with his Level 3 AAT Qualification.

    Today he works towards his Apprenticeship as an employee of Grant Thornton, in their Audit Department. Never one to rest on his laurels, he’s made an immediate impact at the large corporate.


    Zane’s academic journey is exemplary, but it’s his personal story that must have caught the judges’ attention. Zane’s route to success came from a collaboration between Kaplan and LTSB (Leadership Through Sport & Business).

    LTSB are a national social mobility charity that supports bright young people from disadvantaged backgrounds into to meaningful work in major firms.

    Through intensive training and partnerships, with blue-chip companies and elite football foundations, their transformative Accountancy Apprenticeship programme develops young people personally and professionally. It better prepares them for the business world.

    We address all forms of disadvantage: personal, in terms of adverse life-events; socio-economic, in terms of class boundaries or lack of social capital; and practical, in terms of the preparation young people have had for the working world

    - David Pinchin

    Up to this point in his young career, Zane hadn’t had it easy. Previously overlooked for opportunities within the sector, he was concerned it was due to his mild ADHD and dyslexia. Zane had also recently left home, and was tasked with living alone and having to support himself. At such an age, there was a lot resting on his shoulders.

    During this period, he assessed the options available and came across the LTSB “More Than an Apprenticeship” programme. So in September 2017 - with the intention of gaining an Accountancy and Finance Apprenticeship – he applied.

    The rest, they say, is history.

    Zane’s PQ nomination made reference to the huge first impression he made, and the impact he continues to make, at Grant Thornton. The company hope to make his role permanent after the completion of his Level 3 qualification.

    Zane’s strength of character and determination has been effectively channeled into the opportunity created by Kaplan and LTSB. It’s great to see the programme truly work for those it intends to support.

    This programme helped me develop both personally and professionally. It's changed my life.

    - Zane Salmon

    Well done Zane!

    To find out more about the Leadership Through Sport and Business programmes, visit their site.

  • Your career after AAT

    by User Not Found | Feb 06, 2019

    Completing your AAT Level 4 Apprenticeship is a great milestone in your career.

    You can now use MAAT1 after your name, and are in a position to progress further - with the new knowledge and skills you have.

    However, have you considered furthering your studies all the way to full Chartered Accountancy status? 

    With ICAEW, ACCA or CIMA, you can study for these qualifications through a Level 7 Apprenticeship, meaning you’ll receive additional support and time for training.

    Here are some of the benefits that opting to complete a Level 7 Apprenticeship could bring you:

    • Achieve full Chartered Status and a Masters Level Qualification

      Now you have a professional designation after completing AAT, you could go one step further. You could achieve full Chartered Accountancy status.

      This equates to a Masters level qualification2 for ICAEW, ACCA or CIMA. With it, you’d be joining an internationally recognised body, which brings considerable benefits for your status and career.

    • Invest in your development

      When you study via the Level 7 Apprenticeship, together with the completion of your qualification, you’ll also develop essential skills and behaviours.

      Networking, business acumen and problem solving are some of the key-workplace competencies which are developed. They not only improve job satisfaction but ultimately increase your value in the workplace.

    • Support whilst you study

      If you study via an Apprenticeship, you’ll be given additional support to complete your qualification. Apprentices have 20% of their working time protected for training and development. Some of this could be achieved through studying for your qualification3.

    • Boost earnings potential

      A recent Accountancy Age survey4 revealed that qualified Accountants averagely earned £64,220 whereas those without a formal qualification averagely earned £45,974.

      Whilst overall earnings vary according to level, location and experience, achieving Chartered status will impact your salary.
    • Use your skills all over the world

      In addition to boosting your salary potential, Chartered Accountancy gives you the opportunity to use your qualification all over the world.

      The qualification itself, and the skills developed when completing your Apprenticeship, are extremely transferable and in high demand everywhere.

    So let the world be your oyster. Start thinking about the next level of your studies now.

    For expert advice and guidance on Level 7 Accountancy Apprenticeships, please contact Kaplan on

    1.You will still be subject to fulfilling the AAT’s requirements for membership, including achieving relevant work experience as per AAT’s Membership Criteria Policy
    2.Please note you do not receive a Masters Degree - this is an equivalent qualification
    3.It is your employer’s discretion as to how the 20% training time is used
    4.Accountancy Age Salary Survey 2018

  • The future after your Level 3 AAT Apprenticeship

    by User Not Found | Jan 24, 2019

    Achieving your Level 3 Accounts Assistant Apprenticeship is a tremendous achievement, and something you should be very proud of.

    It will have involved lots of hard work, demonstrating both technical knowledge and wider skills invaluable to employers.

    Now, you might want to break from studying and apply what you’ve learnt to the workplace.

    However, it’s worth considering the additional benefits of continuing your studies. Progressing onto the Level 4 Professional Accounting Technician Apprenticeship is an option that brings further rewards:

    • Achieve MAAT designation - Completion of the AAT Professional Diploma, as part of your Level 4 Apprenticeship, will bring you closer* to applying for full AAT membership. It’s an internationally recognised professional status in Accountancy and Finance, and gives you the opportunity to put ‘MAAT’ after your name.

      It can bring greater responsibility in terms of your career and enhance your CV, making you more marketable. 

    • Demonstrate higher-level skills and behaviours (e.g Leadership)  - The Level 4 Apprenticeship allows you to enhance the skills and behaviours you developed as part of your Level 3 Apprenticeship.

      Exposure to higher-level roles and responsibilities, which you will be provided with, will improve job satisfaction and your value within the workplace. 

    If you consider progressing to the next level, you can boost your career and earnings potential

    • Specialise in your chosen area of Accountancy - The AAT Professional Diploma enables you to choose 2 from 5 options. This gives you the chance to become an expert in your chosen field: Tax, Audit or Credit Management. 

      Combined with the more general Accounting knowledge you’ve already developed, these specialisms can significantly enhance your career prospects.

    • Boost your earnings potential - Studies show that those who have MAAT designation averagely earn £9,000 more than those who have just completed Level 3 Advanced Diploma**.

    • Gain valuable exemptions for future study - And why stop at Level 4? If you decide you want to gain Chartered Accountancy Status through the study of CIMA, ACCA or ICAEW, completing Level 4 will provide you with exemptions for up to 6*** papers for these qualifications.

      This means you can progress more quickly through these further studies.

    So don’t let the dust settle for too long on your study manuals, build on your hard work. If you consider progressing to the next level, you can boost your career and earnings potential.

    For expert advice and guidance on Level 4 Accountancy Apprenticeships, please contact Kaplan on


    *You will still be subject to fulfilling the AAT’s requirements for membership, including achieving relevant work experience as per AAT’s Membership Criteria Policy.

    **AAT/Avado Salary Survey 2017

    ***Exact exemptions depend upon the qualification chosen and options selected at Level 4 Professional Diploma

  • How to register for your ACCA Apprenticeship

    by User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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.

  • 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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 User Not Found | 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.


  • 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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