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

    by User Not Found | May 17, 2018

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

    Most significantly, levy paying employers will now be able to transfer up to 25% of their levy pot to other employers (to be spent on Apprenticeship standard training in England).

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


    The basic rules of the 25% transfer are that:

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

    Who would want to do this and why?

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

    Donor motivation:  

    There are a few reasons levy paying employers would donate levy funding :

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

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

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

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

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

    720  x 405 final

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

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

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

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

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

    • Access to expert training / facilities: As above

    Why wouldn’t you do this?

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

    What are the potential negatives?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    by User Not Found | May 09, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

    B2C Ashgates 121

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

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

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

  • Webinar: Understanding the opportunities of Apprenticeship

    by User Not Found | Feb 06, 2018


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

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

    The Hays webinar covers

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

    Watch the recording now.

  • Interview with Gail Ramiz, Head of Academic Support

    by Sharon Cooper | Oct 30, 2017

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

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

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

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

    What does the Academic Support team do?

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

    And how has Academic Support changed recently?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Will the Levy and the new Level 7 Apprenticeship change the way we train our accountants?

    by Matt Rawlins | Jul 28, 2017

    I’ve been in the accountancy training field for nearly 11 years and have never seen a change as big as the introduction of the Levy and the upcoming Level 7 Apprenticeship standard.

    Previously, we have seen a big uptake in the Accountancy Apprenticeships with lots of top businesses supporting the school leaver route, however, nothing on this scale.

    What’s changing and how will it affect the way we train accountants?

    Did you know?

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

    The new Level 7 apprenticeship is due to be signed off in the coming months. It will mean that the training for all professional qualifications (ICAEW, ACCA, CIMA & CTA) could now fall under the apprenticeship scheme. Smaller businesses, who are not paying the Levy, may be able to claim up to 90% of the training costs covered by the scheme.Larger businesses, who are paying the levy, will be able to use their Levy pot to fund this training.

    All of the age limits have been removed and individuals can now do an apprenticeship even if they have a degree.

    Therefore, all of our existing graduate programmes could move to an apprenticeship programme.

    Man talking to woman

    Is this a good thing?

    In my opinion, yes! The amount of training that companies offer trainee accountants varies significantly. Some businesses are offering extensive training programmes covering both the technical content and the soft skills needed to develop a good accountant, whereas others are not able to offer that level support, missing the soft skills. In some cases students do all of their training in their own time, with no support from their business.

    I believe that the upcoming Level 7 Apprenticeship will make it a level playing field for everyone. Whether you work for a huge international accountancy firm or a small start-up business, the quality of training will be the same.

    The new Level 7 Apprenticeships will not only cover the technical skills needed to qualify but also cover the soft skills required to develop a well-rounded accountant. The example milestone map below, shows how the Apprenticeship could potentially cover both the technical and soft skills an accountant requires.

    Apprenticeships milestone map

    How will this change the way our accountants train?

    There is likely t o be a greater emphasis on the soft skills that all professional s need, and a newly qualified accountant will now have better communication, leadership, management and decision making abilities.

    School leavers will have a much tougher decision to make; should they go to university or not? I expect those attending university are more likely to choose non-relevant degrees to enhance the skills not covered by the accountancy apprenticeship.

    Finally all businesses, regardless of size, will be able to offer affordable, high quality training for their new joiners allowing them to develop better accountants. Therefore, we are likely to see increased competition in both school leaver and graduate intakes.

    Matt Rawlins, Client Director, Kaplan UK & Ireland
    has taken his extensive experiences of tutoring and marking at Kaplan, to now provides help and advice on Accountancy and Tax training programmes. This includes the designing and managing for both School Leaver and Graduate programme, to ensure the highest success rates possible.

    Following the introduction of the new Apprenticeship Standards and the Levy he has been working with new and existing businesses to ensure they get the best value for money whilst providing the flexibility they need to grow.

  • Maya Bhardwa - Audit and Business Service Trainee

    by Sharon Cooper | Jun 19, 2017

    Maya is studying an Accountancy Apprenticeship and works at Ashgates Accountants.

    Why did you choose an Apprenticeship?

    I chose to do an Apprenticeship because I felt it was the best option for my career. I have always preferred a hands-on learning style and with an Apprenticeship you can study and gain work experience at the same time which appealed to me. I didn’t want to go to university as the costs were too high and I was advised an Apprenticeship was the best route for a career in accountancy as you get the relevant experience and earn money at the same time.

    How has Kaplan helped you?

    As I am dyslexic I needed more support with studying and I got that with Kaplan. I was provided with extra time with exams, different coloured paper and one-to-one tuition if I needed it. They understand that you are working full time as well as studying so do as much as they can to support you. The tutors are really friendly and are prepared to go the extra mile.

    What would be your advice for anyone considering an Apprenticeship?

    Firstly I would tell them to research their Apprenticeship as it may not be what you expect which could cause problems. I would also say make sure your Apprenticeship is in something you enjoy as an Apprenticeship is not an easy option, so making it enjoyable helps you love your job and love studying.

    What are the main benefits about your Kaplan Apprenticeship?

    My Apprenticeship allows me to climb the ladder of my chosen career quicker. It allows me to adapt to the working environment and enables me to learn in different ways. I am able to put what I learn into practice while earning money at the same time. I can see where the progression is within my company, what is required of me and where I want to be.

    Could an Apprenticeship be right for you?

    Search and apply for current vacancies

    Download Maya’s story

  • Sarah Hawksworth - Audit and Business Service Trainee

    by Sharon Cooper | Jun 19, 2017

    Sarah is studying an Accountancy Apprenticeship and works at Ashgates Accountants.

    Why did you choose an Apprenticeship?

    I chose to do an Apprenticeship as it suited my style of learning through doing. I liked the idea of carrying on with my education whilst working in a full time job and beginning to earn some money. I also wanted to get on-the-job training and gain real life experience. Qualifying to AAT Level 4 can enable entry to further study to chartered status, which can be the equivalent of a degree.

    How do you balance work with studying?

    When I first started I worried about being able to find the right balance between my work and my studies, but I soon got into a system and found it really easy by assigning one night a week to complete my homework. Then when I have exams coming up I get up early at the weekend and do 3-5 hours in the morning, then I still have the afternoon to relax or go out with friends.

    How has Kaplan helped you?

    It’s been really helpful knowing that my Kaplan adviser is just an email away if I have any queries, whether it’s to do with my work or my studies she replies nearly instantly advising me on what to do. I struggled on a couple of the units in AAT Level 3 but was able to get extra help from my tutor outside of lesson time very easily.

    What would be your advice for anyone considering an Apprenticeship?

    Definitely do it! It’s a brilliant way to begin your career and you will be a lot more employable having experience as well as qualifications. Plus you aren’t incurring lots of debt from student loans and will start to earn some money.

    What are the main benefits about your Kaplan Apprenticeship?

    It suits the way I prefer to study and you get the opportunity to work in different departments to see and experience the real workplace, meet new colleagues and gain more knowledge of where your career could progress to.

    Could an Apprenticeship be right for you?

    Search and apply for current vacancies

    Download Sarah’s story

  • Jamie Slack - Audit and Business Service Trainee

    by User Not Found | Jun 16, 2017

    Jamie is studying an Accountancy Apprenticeship and works at Ashgates Accountants.

    Why did you choose an Apprenticeship?

    I wanted to gain a recognised qualification without having the debt of going to university. Learning and earning in a professional environment is a huge benefit as not only do I have no debt, but I am gaining experience and skills to add to my CV. This in turn makes me more employable improving my future career prospects.

    How do you balance work with studying?

    A good study plan is very beneficial as this allows me to plan which days to study, which days to catch up on work and which days I have free. I often study in the evenings after work as a huge amount of what I study consists of what I do in the day, therefore planning ahead and knowing when I am going to revise allows me to always have something to do and keep stress to a minimum.

    How has Kaplan helped you?

    The tutors are very supportive and ready to help on anything you are stuck with which makes studying so much easier and allows me to feel more confident with my work. Outside of the classroom I can test my knowledge with the excellent online resources that MyKaplan offers, which my tutor can see and provide feedback on what I need to do to improve.

    What would be your advice for anyone considering an Apprenticeship?

    First of all weigh up your options, see if the career you want to pursue has suitable Apprenticeships available that will benefit you. Some professions you need a degree which you may have to go to university for, however choosing an Apprenticeship is extremely beneficial as the experience that you gain in the workplace while learning will give you the upper hand over university graduates!

    What are the top three things about your Kaplan Apprenticeship?

    My Apprenticeship is great; it is exactly what I was looking for. I am gaining valuable work experience in a professional environment whilst studying towards a recognised qualification and earning a salary! Not only are those three things important for my future but my colleagues are excellent to work with as they are very helpful and supportive which allows me to reach my potential.

    Could an Apprenticeship be right for you?

    Search and apply for current vacancies

    Download Jamie’s story

  • Everything you need to know about Apprenticeship standards

    by Sharon Cooper | Apr 26, 2017

    You might have heard the word 'Trailblazer' before when talking about Apprenticeships, but what does this mean and why is it so important for the Apprenticeship industry?

    What are the new Apprenticeship Standards?

    Apprenticeships are changing. Due to a major government review of Apprenticeships, new Apprenticeship standards are being introduced. Developed by groups of employers known as 'Trailblazers', the new standards set out what an Apprenticeship should look like for a specific job role and the knowledge, skills and behaviours an apprentice will need to show to successfully complete their Apprenticeship.

    What are the main changes?

    As the standards have been developed by employers they ensure you will receive the most relevant training for the industry you would like to join. They mean improved quality and greater consistency across Apprenticeships as well as substantial training and a focus on skills, preparing you for work. You may notice slight changes as follows:


    The new standards give employers the flexibility to choose the most appropriate assessment method for apprentices to demonstrate the key skills they have learnt; this means that learning will be relevant for the specific job role.

    Beyond exams

    A greater emphasis will be placed on all-round development and performance in the workplace, meaning that Apprenticeships are no longer just about passing exams. At the end of the programme apprentices will complete an end-point assessment, meaning that skills will be taken into account as well as exam performance. This means that at the end of your Apprenticeship you'll be ready to start your new career.

    Continuous improvement

    Most new standards will also require apprentices to keep training logs or learning records where you will be encouraged to reflect on the work you have done, what you have learned and identify any gaps in the training with a manager or talent coach. At the end of the programme you will be asked to put forward the very best evidence in a showcase portfolio, interview or reflective statement which ensures all the learning requirements have been met.

  • Want to know what it’s like to be an apprentice?

    by Sharon Cooper | Apr 26, 2017

    Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to gain a qualification through work-based learning as well as the skills you need for your chosen career.

    If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to become an apprentice then look no further as Financial Services apprentices at RSA Group reveal why they chose a Kaplan Apprenticeship, what an Apprenticeship involves and the benefits they have experienced.

    Take a look at our infographic below to find out what they said.

    Want to know what it's like to be an apprentice?
  • Edward Nott - Insurance Apprentice

    by Sharon Cooper | Mar 23, 2017

    Edward is studying a Financial Services Apprenticeship and works at Munich Re Group.

    Why did you choose an Apprenticeship over University?

    Finding jobs can take months, sometimes years, even with a strong degree. An Apprenticeship offers a way into work and provides you with sought after job experience from the get-go. In specific areas such as financial services I’ve found that more employers are keen to take on people with experience in the market over degrees. But most of all, you’re not left with the £40K+ average debt from your student loan!

    What advice would you give candidates wanting to stand out in an interview?

    The most important factor is to show a true interest in the firm you’re looking at. Get it across that you want to work for this business and let the interviewers know you are interested in what they do. Never be afraid to ask questions at any stage during an interview, the interviewers aren’t there to catch you out on what you don’t know, but want to see what you can offer to them.

    How have you found your experience with Kaplan so far?

    Kaplan has been a brilliant organisation to work with, from application to offer I found the process transparent and efficient. My co-ordinator was in constant contact if I had any questions to ask and kept the whole process organised. When I started the job, they let me know what would be required of me to hold both a full-time job alongside studying for the qualification. I have recommended them to my friends who haven’t gone to university.

    Where do you hope to be in three years’ time?

    I hope to have progressed and be on a permanent contract at Munich Re. I am looking to specialise in Underwriting and continue with the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) qualification to give me options in my career going forward. The great thing about this Apprenticeship is that it gives you choices; people who were in the same role have gone on to all sorts of careers from accounting and auditing, to underwriting and broking.

    How are you finding the Apprenticeship role so far?

    It has been a real challenge but I have learnt so much and I feel like I’m playing an important role in the functioning of the department. I’m ecstatic with my choice to go into an Apprenticeship instead of university, I feel like the amount of opportunities I have is growing and I’d recommend it to anyone!

    Could an Apprenticeship be right for you?

    Search and apply for current vacancies.

    Download Edward’s story.

  • What do recruiters really want to see on your CV?

    by User Not Found | Mar 08, 2017

    Putting a CV together for the first time can be daunting, especially if you’re not sure where to start and what to include. On top of that, recruiters often receive hundreds of applications for just one role, so if your CV and cover letter fail to stand out you could quickly be rejected.

    With this in mind, we recently asked our Apprenticeships recruitment team to reveal what they’re really looking for when they read your CV and cover letter, and what things should be avoided to help you create your perfect CV.

    What are the first things you look at in an application and why?

    The first thing I look at is how much information the candidate has written. This often represents how much effort has been put into the application and how interested they are in the role. Making your application as clear, concise and accurate as possible will help recruiters to understand what kind of role you are looking for so they can help make your application stand out.

    I also look for desire and genuine interest in the industry as I want candidates to make informed choices about the company and their career path which helps to minimise drop-offs during their Apprenticeship.

    What is the most important part of a CV?

    This varies depending on the recruiter, but the main thing for me aesthetically is the format. I see a lot of CVs and a professional, easy to read format goes a long way and shows they value and care about the impression they make.

    In terms of actual content, it’s very important for candidates to clearly state the qualifications they have as well as any work experience. All work experience is good to put on your CV even if it’s in a different sector.

    What are your tips for getting yourself noticed and making a CV stand out?

    As already mentioned, make sure your CV is easy to read, in clear sections and your experience and education stands out easily for us to see. Keep the content concise and to the point (no more than 2 pages) and do your best to make it interesting so that the recruiter wants to read on to find out more about you. You can find CV templates online to make it easier to create.

    Additionally, whilst education and qualifications are considered important, showing you are involved in extra-curricular activities will make you stand out, for example participating in team sports, the Duke of Edinburgh, obtaining work experience or perhaps even undertaking voluntary work. When you're looking for a job, spending the time to make your CV stand out could be the difference between being shortlisted and not so it’s important to get this right.

    What common CV mistakes should be avoided?

    Aside from the obvious spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and using multiple fonts and sizes, you should also avoid making your CV too wordy – whilst it’s good to give the employer information about yourself you should only include the details that are going to add value to your application. You can sell yourself more in your cover letter.

    You should also avoid using the same CV for different job applications. Instead try and tailor each application to the role and industry you are applying for, e.g.  you wouldn’t send a CV describing your passion for becoming a chef to a finance company! Think about what information they will want to see and what skills are transferable into this industry.

    What advice can you offer anyone who is about to start applying for a job?

    Firstly, take the time to prepare a good CV, and think about what information you can include to highlight what you have to offer and your suitability for the role. You should also make sure your CV is kept up to date when you find a job.

    Secondly, research, research, research the industry and company you are applying for. With an Apprenticeship you will be committing to at least 12 months of work / study so you need to make sure the company is right for you and meets your requirements. We want you to be happy where you work and in an environment that you can flourish in. Make sure you have looked into the qualification you will study and the progression routes you can take. Apprenticeships aren’t an easy route into a good career – they take a lot of hard work and need full commitment.

    For more in-depth CV guidance, download our ‘Factsheet to creating the perfect CV’!

  • How to format your CV to make the right first impression

    by User Not Found | Mar 03, 2017

    Everyone knows that first impressions count, and that is particularly true when it comes to your CV. Employers often have hundreds of applicants for just one job and so if your CV doesn’t look professional you will be quickly rejected.

    That’s why we have put together some easy style tips to make sure your CV makes a great first impression and gets put to the top of the pile.

    Once you’re feeling confident with these ideas, download our CV template at the bottom of the page, put the tips into practise and land that dream job!

    Keep it consistent

    Your CV will instantly look more professional if all the formatting is the same. This means using the same font, size and colour for all the text.

    For fonts, use something that is easy to read -  Times New Roman, Arial and Calibri all work really well.

    The best font size to use is between 10-12 points, but your title and section headings can be slightly bigger to make them stand out.

    As for colour, only ever write in black for your CV!

    Be careful - sometimes if you are copying and pasting words from other places, the text will keep a different format. Tools like ‘Format Painter’ and pasting using ‘Keep Text Only’  in Microsoft Word will help to keep everything looking the same.

    If you find it hard to notice differences on a screen, print it out and have a friend or family member check with you.

    Keep it short

    The good thing about writing a CV is that it doesn’t have to be very long. In fact, a CV really shouldn’t be more than two A4 pages at most.

    Remember, the employer won’t have a lot of time to look through your CV, so make sure you’re only putting in your key achievements that are relevant for the job and that the most important information is easy to find.

    If you are struggling to keep it short enough, write in bullet points rather than in full paragraphs.

    If you are struggling to think of things to write, just remember that you learn something from every experience. Perhaps you played for a sports team at school or helped to arrange a bake sale? These extra-curricular activities are great for proving you have important skills that employers want such as teamwork and timekeeping.

    Remove personal details

    As you are trying to keep the CV short, cut out any personal information that is not relevant to the job. Name, email and phone number are all important so that the employer can contact you, but you don’t need to include things like eye colour or height (unless you are applying to be a basketball player!)

    Use logical sections

    There are lots of different ways to divide up your CV, but just make sure that similar information is grouped together so it's easy to understand. Sections can include Work Experience, Education and Hobbies. Examples of how to use these different sections can be found in our template CV below.

    Check your spelling and grammar

    You only get one chance to make a first impression, so make sure that everything is spelled correctly on your CV! Most word processors such as Microsoft Word will have in-built spell-checkers, so make sure you pay attention to those red squiggles!

    If you don’t have access to a computer and are writing by hand, ask someone to help you read through your final draft.

    Give it a sensible name

    The vast majority of CV’s today are submitted electronically - either by email, or by uploading onto an employer's site. That means that a sensible file name can create a good impression before they have even opened your CV. A filename such as ‘Joe Bloggs CV.doc’ is fine - ‘doc1.doc’ or ‘ilovedrake.doc’ are not as good!

    Now you should be ready to get that job! To practise all these tips for yourself, download our CV template below.

  • Maximising the potential of new Trailblazer Apprenticeship standards

    by Cassandra Macdonald | Mar 03, 2017

    With April soon approaching and with it the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and new funding rules, more and more employers will be adopting new Apprenticeship 'Trailblazer' standard routes as traditional frameworks are replaced and withdrawn.

    From the many conversations we are having with employers, one question we are continually asked is 'how will this improve what we do at the moment'?

    For many existing high-quality Apprenticeships, which include professional exams and links to professional registration, the differences between old and new are not major but there are some key areas where we see a real opportunity to improve on current practice.


    The new standards are offering much more flexibility for employers to design programmes that fit around your own requirements rather than having to follow prescriptive assessment criteria. Old Apprenticeship frameworks were very focused on proving that a range of different assessment criteria had been met and demonstrated. Whilst this added structure to schemes, it did create a 'one size fits all' approach potentially adding a considerable extra burden to students and employers to ensure all criteria was met even if it didn't relate directly to their job role or sector. The new standards are designed to move away from the NVQ assessment approach and enable employers to choose the most appropriate ways and methods for students to demonstrate the key skills and behaviours detailed in the standards making the learning more relevant to all involved.

    Beyond exams

    A very common criticism of many professional qualifications is that they only focus on exam success and don't reflect all-round development and performance in the workplace.

    The new standards address this by focusing not just on knowledge gained in exam study but also requiring students to demonstrate key skills and behaviours deemed as essential for that particular job role. With new standards, the end-point assessment required in all sectors, ensures the whole standard is tested placing as much importance on the skills and behaviours developed as the traditional exam history leading to more well-rounded employees. Indeed many new standards will even grade apprentices based on their work based performance given an added motivation to strive to be the best in all areas of the Apprenticeship.

    Continuous Improvement

    A common requirement of most new standards is the need for students to keep training logs/learning records where, at regular intervals, they record and reflect upon the work they've done. Through check-ins with their managers/talent coaches they are encouraged to reflect upon what they've done, what they've learned and identify any gaps in their training programmes. The focus at the end of the programme that they should only put forward their very best evidence for example in a showcase portfolio or via a reflective statement, encourages students to continually strive to develop and improve rather than 'tick off' one requirement and move onto another, which is a criticism of the current approach to Apprenticeships.


    Funding is now available for Apprenticeships across a wider range of qualifications and for a wider range of individuals with the relaxing of previous eligibility criteria. This should give employers who wish to embrace Apprenticeships access to additional support to provide a richer learning programme to a wider range of employees than may have previously been the case. The requirement to provide a substantial amount of 'off-the-job' training in order to be eligible for Apprenticeship funding also places assurances on the quality of the training experience those on programme will receive.

    Standards are very new and undoubtedly there are many who are yet to be convinced on exactly how they will work in practice. However, interpreted in the way they are intended, we see the introduction of these standards as a really positive step forward. Taking the best bits from the old frameworks, with added flexibility, a wider focus on skills and behavioural training and new funding models to provide workforce training, standards should open up far more opportunities to really enhance the quality of learning. Consequently they should lead to better-rounded, better motivated employees and provide a really positive return on investment for employers adopting them.

    By Cassandra Macdonald, Head of Client Solutions: Apprenticeships at Kaplan.

  • Jessica Feldman - Claim Handler

    by Sharon Cooper | Mar 02, 2017

    Jessica is studying a Financial Services Apprenticeship and works at RSA Group.

    Why did you choose an Apprenticeship?

    I chose to do an Apprenticeship because I wanted to carry on my study but I didn’t want to be in full time education like university. I wanted to have an Apprenticeship and be more independent with my career and provide for myself. What I like about this particular Apprenticeship is that after it’s completed you can still move on to further things like Diplomas whilst in a full time job.

    How do you balance work with studying?

    To balance my study I try to break it into smaller amounts. I do this by sometimes getting up earlier and doing some in the morning if I know I don’t have enough time at night. When I have an exact date for an exam I make a revision timetable which helps me stick to my revision due to the tight schedule.

    How has Kaplan helped you?

    Kaplan has helped me understand my studies and not just learn about them. The studies have been used in examples we are familiar with, which stick in your mind and help you to understand. The tutor that comes in to the workplace is easy to talk to and available to contact with any queries that I have.

    What would be your advice for anyone considering an Apprenticeship?

    I would advise anyone who wasn’t 100% sure on going to university to get an Apprenticeship as you are still building a solid foundation of grades and a career at the same time. If your parents are the ones wanting you to go to university don’t go for them, because when you join a workplace everyone wants you to succeed just as much as them.

    Could an Apprenticeship be right for you?

    Search and apply for current vacancies.

    Download Jessica’s story.

  • Andy Briggs - Claim Handler

    by Sharon Cooper | Mar 02, 2017

    Andy is studying a Financial Services Apprenticeship and works at RSA Group.

    Why did you choose an Apprenticeship?

    I chose an Apprenticeship because I wanted the opportunity to actually work within a real business whilst I complete my studies. I went to university in September 2015 and after several months I made the decision that I wasn't ready for it yet. After leaving, I started to look for Apprenticeships that would suit me. Not only do you get the opportunity to experience the workplace, but you're also earning and learning at the same time, which means you're getting paid to develop yourself and your transferable skills for the future.

    How do you balance work with studying?

    I've been studying wherever I can, either on my commute or if I want to get some extra study time in I'll plan ahead and book some time out at work.

    I've found that a lot of what we study in the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) qualification, I can directly relate to in my current job. This has helped me remember a lot of what we've being studying as we've been using it in real cases and scenarios.

    How has Kaplan helped you?

    Kaplan have helped from the very get go when I was attending the assessment centre for my current role. They gave me tips on how to stand out from other applicants and got me interview ready after just a few phone calls, which helped to give me confidence.

    Kaplan has also helped me in all other aspects since then. They support me with my study and my adviser visits every few weeks to discuss how I'm doing and any queries or concerns I have, which is fantastic.

    What would be your advice for anyone considering an Apprenticeship?

    Think long and hard about all your options. For me, leaving university in search of an Apprenticeship has proved to be one of the best decisions I've ever made. The life experiences you get from being in the workplace are invaluable and you can't put a price on their importance in developing as a person.

    Could an Apprenticeship be right for you?

    Search and apply for current vacancies.

    Download Andy's story.

  • The secret to writing a successful cover letter

    by User Not Found | Mar 02, 2017

    A cover letter is often the first thing a hiring manager looks at, so it’s important to get this right. Writing a successful cover letter will help make your job application stand out and can go a long way to getting that all important interview.

    If you’re not sure where to start, read our guide to find out more…

    What is a cover letter and why is it needed?

    A cover letter is an essential part of any job application and should be sent to employers alongside your CV to summarise your skills, experience and suitability for a job.

    A cover letter should make it clear which job the CV is for and include the name of the job vacancy and any reference that has been given for it. The great thing about a cover letter is that it’s specifically written with the job you’re applying for in mind, which means you can tailor its contents for the role you are applying for and show why you’re the best candidate for the job.

    What should a cover letter include?

    As a general rule, you should structure your cover letter as follows:

    Opening paragraph – state the job vacancy you’re applying for and where you found out about it.

    Second paragraph – explain why you’re interested in the role, the company and prove you’re a suitable candidate by describing the relevant skills that you have, particularly those that relate to the job description.

    Third paragraph – summarise your strengths and previous experience and state how this will be beneficial to the role. 

    Closing paragraph – thank the employer and say you look forward to hearing from them soon. Make sure you include your contact details so that they’re able to contact you.

    Top tips for creating the perfect cover letter


    • Keep it clear, concise and to the point. Aim for around half a page of A4.
    • Ask someone to proof read and check for spelling mistakes.
    • Relate your skills and experience to the job you’re applying for.
    • Include examples to prove why you’re suitable for the job.
    • Make sure you include your contact details!


    • Use the same cover letter for every job application.
    • Make it all about you - focus on how you meet the company needs instead.
    • Repeat what’s in your CV word for word.
    • Talk about your weaknesses.
    • Be overly personal, such as badmouthing your previous employers.

    If you’re ready to start updating your cover letter, you can download our template here.

    Now that you know what it is employers are looking for visit our jobs board to get applying!

  • Accountancy Apprenticeships: New options for funding training?

    by Sharon Cooper | Jan 25, 2017

    FREE webinar - 8th February 2017, 12-1pm

    Speaker - Cassandra MacDonald, Head of Professional Service Apprenticeships at Kaplan

    With much focus rightfully placed on the imminent arrival of the Apprenticeship Levy, it is easy to forget that the content and structure of Apprenticeships are also going through a major overhaul with the phasing out of existing frameworks over to new Trailblazer standards.

    This will impact employers or students who are currently using any of the AAT or Professional Services Level 4 Apprenticeships. It also opens up exciting opportunities for any employer currently training students through a Professional Qualification such as ICAEW, CTA, CIMA, ACCA or CIPFA with the imminent introduction of the Masters-Level Apprenticeship at Level 7.

    Kaplan have been the only training provider to be actively involved in all 3 groups charged with developing these new Accountancy Apprenticeships and has unrivalled knowledge and expertise in this sector.

    Join Cassandra Macdonald, Kaplan’s Accountancy Apprenticeship expert, on Wednesday 8th February 2017 at 12pm for an insightful WebEx that will cover:

    • An overview of the 3 main Accountancy Apprenticeships available at Level 3, 4 and 7
    • The main differences between the existing frameworks and new standards
    • Funding for the Apprenticeship standards both for Levy and non-Levy payers
    • How to transition existing qualifications training onto an Apprenticeship
  • Don't tell anybody but…"I'm a graduate on an Apprenticeship scheme"

    by Cassandra Macdonald | Jan 12, 2017

    Accountancy and Tax Apprenticeships

    Over the last few years the image and perception of Apprenticeships has undoubtedly changed for the better. Traditionally seen as a job for a school leaver, much work has been done to position Apprenticeships as an attractive and credible alternative to university. More firms are starting schemes aimed at young people leaving school, lots of work has been made to achieve this.

    But there is an interesting shift in the Apprenticeship dynamic that has not gained as many headlines. This shift could undo much of the hard work we've done to position Apprenticeships more positively.

    At one level there is the concern that an influx of graduates could push school leavers off Apprenticeship places. On another, there is a fear that if you call a graduate scheme an ‘Apprenticeship', they won't want to apply – leading to debate around the Apprenticeship brand.

    Graduates on Apprenticeship schemes are a relatively new trend. Previous rules had always prohibited those with anything higher than a foundation degree (Level 4), from being eligible for government funding.

    Until very recently most Apprenticeships available were at relatively low levels of attainment, so it could be argued many graduates would be over qualified to embark on one.

    However, the recent push by the government to create Apprenticeships at Degree and Masters levels has opened up a whole new market for those leaving university. In theory, they can now do an Apprenticeship at a level higher than that of their degree.

    As an added bonus, this would now also make them eligible for funding. What this means in practice is that many employers, with the Levy looming large over their training budgets, are reviewing how to train a new intake of graduates via an Apprenticeship route.

    Graduates aren't only progressing onto higher level Apprenticeships. With new Apprenticeship standards being focused on job roles, there are now cases where graduates with a non-relevant degree are being funded on lower levels of Apprenticeships. The argument is that their degree didn't teach them the necessary knowledge or skills to perform in that role. The Apprenticeship training is therefore needed, it's argued, to get their skills up to scratch.

    Graduate scheme or Apprenticeship?
    As an increasing number of firms look to transition their graduate schemes over to Apprenticeships, a question frequently asked was 'do we have to call it an Apprenticeship?'. There's a fear this may put graduates off applying, or lessen the image of the scheme internally. This is reasonable concern, given the traditional association of Apprenticeships with school leavers.

    But we would argue that if we are to continue to make headway, Apprenticeships shouldn't be a term to avoid. If we look at the actual meaning of the word 'Apprenticeship' (going back to its French and Latin routes): "someone in a state of learning from a master in the field".

    This doesn't state the age or background of the apprentice, but focuses on somebody learning a profession. Be that as a plumber, a broadcast engineer, doctor or an accountant. Very few professions nowadays take on graduates who would hit the ground running; most require some form of structured training. Given that, should Apprenticeships really just be the domain of the school leaver?

    Any investment in skills and training should be seen as a positive step to improving our ability to compete in a post-Brexit world. We should embrace the term Apprenticeship, not look to shy away from it and look forward to the day when the government's ambition is "An Apprenticeship for everybody" whatever the route taken to start one.

    By Cassandra Macdonald, Head of Client Solutions: Apprenticeships at Kaplan

    Find out more about Apprenticeships ›

  • Best and worst questions to ask at your interview

    by User Not Found | Oct 05, 2016

    Have you got an interview coming up for an apprenticeship or a job and you aren’t sure what to ask? Are you nervous about saying the wrong thing to the interviewer? Our infographic will help you to plan your questions so you can be cool and relaxed on the big day. Don’t worry about remembering them, there’s nothing wrong with taking a list of questions in with you, it will show the interviewer that you are serious about getting the job! Good luck!

    Best and worst interview questions infographic
  • 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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