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  • Boost your employability!

    by Sharon Cooper | Sep 27, 2016

    Employers are always looking for the best possible candidates to join their company, but if everyone’s got the same work experience and qualifications, how can you stand out? Here are some of the best extra-curricular activities and skills to boost your employability:

    Volunteering and charity work – Volunteering and charity work shows that you are willing to go out of your way to give something back to the community. They are also good ways to learn valuable life and working skills that look great on your CV and organisers for high profile sporting, musical and charity events are always looking for volunteers. Getting involved can be a great way of showing that you are passionate about a particular cause or interest.

    Job hunting tips:

    Include extra-curricular activities and relevant hobbies on your CV to demonstrate your personality.

    Sports – Playing for a sports team or club can demonstrate motivation and team work skills. It could also suggest to employers that you have a competitive streak which could be seen as a big advantage. Use this to suggest that you will be willing to go the extra mile to provide a high standard of work and that you are constantly striving to succeed in everything that you do.

    Languages – Speaking another language is an impressive skill and could go a long way to enhancing your employability. Not everyone is able to master learning another language and candidates who can are often highly sought after. It could also allow you to broaden your horizons and work in another country if the opportunity arose. Companies who are looking to expand internationally would also be interested in a potential employee who could speak the local language.

    Music – Learning a musical instrument or playing in a band can demonstrate creativity and ability. It’s also a great way of building confidence through expressing yourself. Standing up in front of a crowd to perform takes a lot of confidence and bravery and could be seen to be transferable to standing up and delivering presentations to work colleagues or conferences. Clear and confident communication is a valuable skill in the working environment and could help you to stand out in an interview situation.

    Computer skills – Computer skills are in high demand and any further knowledge you have gained could be considered a valuable asset to possess. Whilst the majority of people today possess basic computer skills, coding and other IT skills would really make you stand out to employers. Whether you’ve developed your skills by yourself as a hobby or undertaken an IT course, this is a sure way of increasing your future career prospects.

  • How to impress in the office

    by Sharon Cooper | Sep 26, 2016

    The move from school leaver to apprentice can be a big one and one of the first hurdles for young professionals to overcome is being aware of some of the existing office rules and etiquette. Whilst it may seem like a daunting step, learning some of these tips will help you to settle down in no time at all.

    Arrive early - Time management is an important skill and turning up to work early will help to show that you are dedicated to the job. Make sure you plan your journey to work in advance if you are travelling by car, bus or train just in case. Aim to arrive 10/15 minutes early so that you can settle in to start work on time without being in a rush. It might take a while to get used to but it gets easier the more it becomes a habit!

    Interesting fact:

    The Harvard Study of Communications claimed that it only takes seven seconds for you to make a first impression on another human being.

    Mobile phones and social media - It can be tempting to use your mobile whilst at your desk to talk to your friends or look up the latest news on social media. This could be frowned upon and viewed as unprofessional, especially if it becomes a habit throughout the day and you are distracting your colleagues. Some companies even go as far as to ban using mobiles completely from the workplace. Set your phone to silent or vibrate in the morning and try to answer any calls or messages on your lunch break or after work if not urgent.

    Dress code - How you dress to work is important and the dress code can depend on which type of company or office you are working in. You will generally be able to have an idea of the atmosphere of the office from when you go in for your interview. Work out whether its business casual or suits and ties and then dress accordingly. Make sure you look smart and professional but also take comfort into consideration.

    Organisation - Self-organisation is an important part of office etiquette. If you are badly organised or your desk is messy then this will impact on how your co-workers will think of you. Try to keep your desk tidy and help to keep yourself organised by using a diary or notebook. This will help to manage your workload and make sure you don’t forget or lose any important bits of information!

    Email etiquette - If you’re not used to emailing regularly, it can be quite daunting when you suddenly have to communicate in a professional environment through email. Make sure you don’t come across too informally by using slang or poor grammar. Be respectful of the people you are communicating with and try to reply to emails as soon as possible. Proofread your emails before you send them and double check who it is that you are sending it too!

  • Common CV mistakes to avoid

    by User Not Found | Sep 23, 2016

    CV writing can be time consuming and frustrating at times, but that is no excuse to make some common mistakes! We take a look at some of the most frequently seen CV mistakes, what impact they could have on your application and what you can do to avoid them.

    Spelling mistakes - Spelling mistakes and grammatical errors are common slip-ups and can make it look as if you rushed your application. Poor spelling and grammar is considered by employers to be unprofessional and your application could be ignored on the basis that your CV isn’t up to scratch. Make sure that you double check the spelling and grammar and ask someone to proof read it before you send it off.

    Job tips:

    • Remember, your CV and cover letter is the first chance to impress employers.
    • Keep it concise and relevant.
    • Personalise it to the job or industry you're applying for.
    • Proofread and spellcheck before you send.

    Title - Another common mistake for candidates to make is using the title ‘CV’ or ‘Curriculum Vitae’. Employers will be aware of the fact that they are looking at your CV after a quick glance so using one of these titles is unnecessary. You want employers to remember your name so that you stand out from the rest of the applicants. Use your name as the title in bold at the top of the document.

    Poor formatting - Poor formatting makes a CV look messy and difficult to read. Choosing the right format for your CV is important and the aim should be to present all of your experience, grades and characteristics in a clear and concise manner. Clever use of sub-headings and bullet points can help you to get all your key information and skills across. A standard size font should be used and your document should be no longer than 2 pages.

    Missing contact information - Including your contact information is a small but necessary fulfilment of writing a CV. Otherwise, how can you expect to be contacted by the employer if you’re successful in your application! You should include your current address, email address and phone number.

    Using clichéd phrases - Finally, try not to use clichéd phrases such as ‘hardworking’, ‘motivated’ and ‘team player’. Whilst you may think that these phrases are true when it comes to describing yourself, they are overused and employers would rather see examples of these characteristics in your work experience. Saying something like ‘I had to manage and work to multiple deadlines whilst maintaining a high standard of work’ clearly demonstrates desirable and transferable skills to the workplace. Using real life examples will help to bring your CV to life and make it more relatable to the job you are applying for.      

    For more in-depth CV guidance, read our guide: How to format your CV to make the right first impression.

  • New Level 3 Accountancy Apprenticeship Trailblazer Standard is given green light

    by Cassandra MacDonald | Sep 08, 2016

    We are really pleased to learn that the Department for Education (DFE) has approved the Level 3 Assistant Accountant Trailblazer Standard as being ready for delivery.

    This now means that two Apprenticeships in the Accountancy sector are now ready to be used under the Trailblazer initiative at Level 3 and Level 4.

    The standard and assessment plan have been created by a group of employers, training providers and the AAT. Apprentices completing the Apprenticeship will demonstrate the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to be an Assistant Accountant across industry, practice and public sector. It compliments both the AAT’s 2016 new syllabus and the Level 4 Trailblazer standard for Professional Accounting/Tax Technician already available, with apprentices completing a synoptic test and bringing together a portfolio of work showcasing the best of their achievements.

    Kaplan is delighted to have played a leading role in the development of this standard. Earlier this week the value of lower level Apprenticeships was called into question by the National Audit Office, a view we would challenge when you consider Apprenticeships such as this one. For somebody wanting to embark on a career in Finance, the chance to complete this Apprenticeship with a respected, transferrable professional qualification embedded within it is a really positive step that should be encouraged and championed.

    We look forward to welcoming new starts on this programme.

    Download our factsheet >

    For any questions about this or any other Apprenticeship matter, please contact Cassandra MacDonald, Head of Professional Apprenticeships at

  • Best questions to ask at your interview

    by User Not Found | Sep 07, 2016

    Why do interviewers want you to ask questions at the end of your interview? Because it shows that you are taking an active interest in their company and that you are willing to learn more about the job role you have applied for. This is an attractive quality to potential employers and asking the right questions can set you apart from the crowd and get you noticed. Not asking questions, on the other hand, could make you appear lazy, uninterested and unprepared. Not exactly ideal employee qualities! Here we look at some examples of the best questions to ask in an interview and the reasons why they could make the difference for you and your career:

    What would my day-to-day responsibilities be?

    Find out what a typical day in the role would involve and show an interest for the role. Ask the interviewer if they can describe the area of responsibility, and what their expectations for the job are. This will help to show that you are taking the interview seriously and could reduce the chance of any surprises if you are offered the job.

    Interview tip:?

    Ask relevant questions - it shows that you're taking an active interest in the company and that you're willing to learn more about the job role you've applied for.

    What are the promotion prospects?

    This demonstrates to the interviewer that you are looking to understand how the position fits into the company’s long-term plans and whether there is a clearly defined career path should you be chosen for the job. This shows desire and motivation to succeed within the company.

    Do you run any training schemes?

    This question is a chance to find out whether there would be any chance to further develop and train in new business skills whilst you are working on the job. Showing that your keen to learn and improve yourself can make you a much more desirable candidate in an interview.

    What are the company’s plans for the future?

    Indicating that you are interested in the business and its future plans is a great way of showing your enthusiasm for the job and implies that you are willing to get involved in the company as a whole rather than just concentrating on yourself. 

    How would you describe the ideal candidate?

    This is a great opportunity to understand exactly what it is that an employer is looking for in a candidate. If the interviewer mentions anything that you haven’t covered or forgot to talk about earlier, now’s the time!

    Making sure you prepare some valid questions could just be the thing that helps you to stand out of the crowd and land your ideal job!

  • Chloe Thomas-Hui - Accounts Assistant

    by Sharon Cooper | Aug 19, 2016

    An insight into how studying a Kaplan Apprenticeship is helping Chloe Thomas-Hui and her future career prospects. Chloe is currently studying as an Accounts Assistant and is employed by Saffrey Champness.

    Why did you choose an Apprenticeship?

    After college I knew I wanted to work in accounting and in a finance environment. When I found out it was possible to work full time and gain experience at the same time, rather than continuing into full time education, it made more sense for me and seemed like the better option for my career. I originally thought I needed a degree to get a good job, but after speaking to different employers and people I knew who worked in accountancy firms, I realised the Apprenticeship route was just as respected and could get you to the same position in the future.

    Did you know?

    Training via an Apprenticeship means you can avoid paying high university fees and stay debt free.

    We've been awarded AAT Apprenticeship Provider of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2017 so we can support you every step of the way.

    How has Kaplan helped you to succeed?

    Kaplan originally introduced me to Saffery Champness and kept me updated with different Apprenticeship roles that I would be suited to. Kaplan was very helpful and prepared me for my interviews by going through different questions I may be asked, explaining the job role and what would be expected in more detail. After Kaplan had helped me to secure my position at Safferys, I then started my ATT qualification at Kaplan and was introduced to my assessor who I meet with regularly to catch up on everyday office life as well as my studies.

    What would be your advice for anyone considering an Apprenticeship?

    Be open minded, I didn’t originally plan to go into tax, however once Kaplan provided me with different job roles both accounts and tax, I realised tax sounded more suited to me and was something I wanted go in to. Make sure you do plenty of research into the area you are looking to go into, if you pick the right subject, an Apprenticeship can give you a lot of experience for the future, even if it is a different job within that area.

    What are the top three things about your Kaplan Apprenticeship?

    Gaining a recognised qualification as well as gaining the practical experience. The Apprenticeship allows me to learn and develop new skills that will be used in my job, for example, setting up meetings and delivering presentations. Also, enjoy the working office environment and getting to meet a variety of different people as a result.

    Could an Apprenticeship be right for you?

    Search and apply for current vacancies here

    Download Chloe's story

  • Tips and advice: Interview questions

    by Sharon Cooper | Aug 16, 2016

    When you’re getting ready for a job interview it’s a good idea to think about the questions that the interviewer might ask you so that you can prepare your answers in advance. Being able to answer interview questions confidently could impress the interviewer and potentially land you the job!

    We’ve put together a list of questions that you might be asked along with suggestions with how to respond to help you give the perfect interview.

  • Kaplan launches new Business Skills Internship programme

    by Ruth Runacus | Jul 25, 2016

    We are delighted to announce the launch of our new Business Skills Internship programme*. This new programme gives valuable work experience to young people in a number of key areas within a business. This also gives employers the opportunity to trial where young talent could add the most value to their business in the form of a future apprenticeship programme.

    Throughout 14/15 and 15/16, we are incredibly proud to have supported over 500 young people in their work experience placements, regularly progressing them into lasting careers with their host employers. This recently resulted in Kaplan featuring in a list+ of the top ten providers nationally providing the highest number of starts through traineeships.

    Feedback from a recent survey we ran suggests that there is a need for young people to develop strong financial awareness (how a business operates financially), effective communication skills – for example, confident telephone skills and good team work and organisational skills in order to provide return on investment, regardless of the type of business they are working for.

    All employers that we spoke to identified lack of confidence, little or no awareness of how business works and little or no relevant work experience as the main issues when interviewing young people for apprenticeship positions.

    Internships are a fantastic way to ensure that your future talent pool have developed the experience and skills that are critical for them to succeed and thrive.

    In response to this employer feedback, we have developed the new Kaplan Business Skills Internship to allow employers to offer short work placements within different relevant departments, including but not exclusively Accounts, HR, Reception / front of house, Admin Support, Customer Service / Sales, Marketing / Social Media and Management therefore giving them the flexibility and time to properly access how each candidate can benefit their business, in different roles and environments. This employer led internship would be designed with your growth and recruitment strategies at the heart.

    Most Internships are unpaid but you are giving a young person valuable work experience and in return you get the opportunity to trial them within your business, identifying potential areas where they could add value. You also get the chance to see if they are a good fit with your company values and culture without committing immediately to a full Apprenticeship programme.

    The commitment required from you is to provide a minimum of 100 hours work placement, lasting approximately four weeks. The ultimate goal for the intern would be that they progress into an Apprenticeship role, either with your business or another Apprenticeship employer. Either way the young person has grown their CV and added some work experience, empowering them to progress their career.

    To find out more about the new programme, please contact Ruth Runacus, National Careers and Employment Manager, at

    *Referred to by the Government as a traineeship this is a programme that "combines work experience that is focused on giving young people the skills and experience that employers are looking for."

    +Source – FE Week

  • How an Internship can help build your talent pipeline

    by Ruth Runacus | Jul 25, 2016

    The Government definition of an Internship* is: “an education and training programme with work experience that is focused on giving young people the skills and experience that employers are looking for.”

    But actually we are regularly told by employers that Internships deliver a lot more value than this. Internships are a fantastic way to build a talent pool of young people that you can be sure have the experience and skills needed to succeed and thrive in your business who can then move into an Apprenticeship or job role.

    Not sure where interns will fit in your business?

    Most Internships are unpaid and provide a young person with valuable work experience and skills so they can find out what it is like to work in a professional environment for the first time. A lot of young people will have had jobs waitressing or serving customers in a shop so entering a corporate business environment can be daunting. An Internship prepares them for this so that the transition is much easier for both them and their employer.

    In return you have the opportunity to trial young talent within your business and identify potential areas where they can add value. You also have the chance to see if they are a good fit with your company values and culture without committing immediately to a full Apprenticeship programme.

    The commitment required from you is to provide a minimum of 100 hours work placement, lasting approximately four weeks. The ultimate goal for the intern is to progress into an Apprenticeship role, either with your business or with another Apprenticeship employer. Either way the young person has grown their CV and added some work experience, empowering them to progress their career.

    Well-rounded business skills

    Feedback from a recent survey we ran suggests that there is a need for young people to develop strong financial awareness, effective communication skills and organisational skills in order to provide return on investment, regardless of the type of business they are working for. As a result of this we are delighted to announce the launch of Kaplans' new employer led Business Skills Internship programme. This programme gives employers the opportunity to trial where young talent can add the most value by offering short work placements within different departments.

    Growth and recruitment

    Kaplan’s Business Skills Internship programme is designed around your growth and recruitment strategies and provides the opportunity to identify where apprentices may fit within the business, building your talent pool without committing immediately to a full Apprenticeship programme.

    • Identify where young talent could fit within your business.
    • Tailored to fit your business with short placements in accounts, HR, reception/front of house, admin, customer service, sales, marketing or management plus more.
    • Provide valuable work experience across different roles and environments.
    • Commit to just 100 hours (4 week) placement across a range of departments.
    • Support from Kaplan to identify where Interns could fit within business.
    • All interns receive training from Kaplan's expert tutors.

    To find out more about the new programme, please contact Ruth Runacus, National Careers and Employment Manager, at

    *Referred to by the Government as a Traineeship.

  • Pearce Mooney -­ Financial Services Team Leader

    by User Not Found | Jul 01, 2016

    Pearce is studying a Finance Apprenticeship and works at RSA Group

    What did you want to achieve from your Apprenticeship?

    I had several goals I wanted to achieve, one of which was to complete a successful transition into the working environment. Having come from college and with little work experience I needed to adapt to a 9:00am–5:00pm working lifestyle which, with the help of Kaplan and my work colleagues, I achieved. Another goal I set before starting the Apprenticeship was to pass my IF1, IF2 exams and also complete my NVQ within the first 12 months. I achieved this goal by utilising the support of Kaplan via revision sessions, online lectures and one-­to-­one tutoring.

    Did you know?

    The CII is the premier professional organisation in the insurance and financial services industry.

    What was the best thing about the Apprenticeship?

    I found the best aspect of the Apprenticeship was the feeling of success after passing the IF1 and IF3 exams. Knowing that all the hard work, study and support put into the qualification was successful. Also, the ability to write Cert CII after your name on emails and letters gives you a sense of pride!

    Where do you think your Apprenticeship will take you?

    As RSA is a multinational company with many different areas to the business the opportunities are limitless. I do believe I have the work ethic and determination to progress. At this moment in time I am focusing on developing my skills and achieving my qualifications, so when the time comes I have the necessary attributes to accomplish my career goals.

    How has Kaplan helped you?

    Working for a company such as RSA and with the learning provider Kaplan, there are many sources of inspiration. Whether it be an individual work colleague who has progressed through exams successfully, or a tutor from Kaplan who is enthusiastic about learning and teaching for the benefit of others. If you have a desire to progress and be successful using the qualifications that Kaplan provides can equipped you with the necessary skills to do so.

    Could an Apprenticeship be right for you?

    Search and apply for current vacancies

    Download Pearce's story

  • Thomas Kelly ­- Management Accountant

    by User Not Found | Jul 01, 2016

    Thomas is studying AAT, progressing to CIMA. He works at ASC Renewables.

    Why did you choose an Apprenticeship?

    Experience is vital in the accounting industry, an Apprenticeship for me seemed like the best way to get into the sector where I wanted to work. My Apprenticeship was funded by the government and further qualifications can be funded by the employer if they are willing to do so.

    Did you know?

    Training via an Apprenticeship means you can avoid paying high university fees and stay debt free.

    We've been awarded AAT Apprenticeship Provider of the Year in 2015, 2016 and 2017 so we can support you every step of the way.

    How do you balance work with studying?

    The first year is definitely the toughest but it depends what route you take. If you are lucky enough to be given time out of work to attend day classes then it is no different than previous studies like college. The option to attend daytime classes has proved to be really useful as it allows me to keep the same work / social life balance as I had in previous studies.

    How has Kaplan helped you?

    A personal reviewer/mentor is provided throughout the Apprenticeship. Mine set me goals and kept me on track throughout the AAT qualification for me to finish it in the most efficient way. He helped me to gain all of the skills I needed and helped my employer to understand the value in an apprentice. Kaplan found the best job to fit what I was looking for, I wanted to study AAT followed by CIMA and work in industry. They found me a job at ASC Renewables LTD, a start­up company which was the ideal fit.

    What would be your advice for anyone considering an Apprenticeship?

    Attend the Kaplan CV Service Course. I went on a two day course with Kaplan free of charge where we were helped by an Apprenticeship coordinator to write our CVs or tidy them up if we already had one. We were also helped to write a covering letter which needed to include the key information for an employer. This letter was vital as it needed to be eye catching in order for you CV to be looked into.

    Could an Apprenticeship be right for you?

    Search and apply for current vacancies

    Download Thomas' story

  • Kaplan wins AAT ‘Apprenticeship Training Provider of the Year’ award for second year running

    by User Not Found | Jun 08, 2016

    Kaplan is delighted to have been named AAT Apprenticeship Training Provider of the Year for the second consecutive year.

    The win was announced at a gala dinner, during the AAT 2016 Training Provider Conference in Birmingham, held to celebrate the outstanding contributions of AAT training providers.

    Kaplan was picked from 100 training provider applicants from around the world, and was one of 14 winners on the night.

    The judging panel for the awards consisted of former AAT President Henry Cooper, AAT head of product development Rachel Kellett, editor of PQ Magazine Graham Hambly, and AAT centre support team manager Ross Grange.

    We were thrilled to win this award, recognising our work in an area which is becoming an increasingly complex one to navigate, with many new issues to consider, such as the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy and Trailblazers.

    At Kaplan, we pride ourselves on helping our employers and partners understand these upcoming changes and working out what they mean for you. 

    We have a dedicated team of experts who follow and keep on top of the most recent developments through our blog and helpful factsheets. Moreover we are passionate about Accountancy and Finance Apprenticeships; we’ve been delivering them for over 10 years and currently train over 3,000 Apprentices in this sector every year.

    To speak to one of our Apprenticeship experts about any questions or concerns you have in this area please contact: Cassandra MacDonald, Head of Professional Apprenticeships –

  • Top tips for employers: Benefits of Apprenticeships

    by Sharon Cooper | May 27, 2016

    More and more companies are being encouraged to take on young people and now over 130,000 business leaders from a range of industries and backgrounds across the UK take on Apprentices. Apprentices can offer help to businesses across all sectors by serving as a route to find and train fresh new talent.

    Why take on an apprentice?
    Apprentices are motivated, enthusiastic, flexible and loyal to the company that invests in them. Accountancy Apprentices have committed themselves to the industry and have chosen to carry out the scheme and therefore dedicated to finish it.

    Taking on an Apprentice reduces training costs as Apprentices are much more cost effective than hiring skilled staff and you will be able to adapt an Apprentice to your needs and provide a future work force for your business. You can also save on recruitment costs through using Kaplan’s free recruitment service.

    Although brand new schemes from several sectors have recently been unveiled, Accountancy Apprenticeships have been successfully running for hundreds of years with established exams, training materials and qualifications already in place.

    What can they study?
    You can take on and train your Apprentice through up to three levels of Accountancy Apprenticeship available with The Association of Accounting Technician (AAT):

    • Level 2 – Certificate
    • Level 3 - Advanced Certificate
    • Level 4 – Diploma

    Once your Apprentice has finished their level four AAT, they’ll be a qualified Accounting Technician and on successful completion, and depending on the type of accountant your Apprentice aspires to be, they will also gain exemptions from certain units of the qualifications that they’ll need to become a chartered accountant such as; ACCA, CIMA, ICAEW or CIPFA.

    Funding an apprentice
    If you are committed to taking on an Apprentice and have less than 1000 employees at your work place, you could also receive up a £1,500 grant pre Apprentice from the Government for up to ten Apprentices aged 16-24. You can also apply for funding to cover training, with full costs covered for 16-18 year olds.

    Don't just take it from us!
    Sue Turner, partner at Hart Shaw LLP in Sheffield, currently has two AAT Apprentices working on her accounts and regularly takes on new Apprentices each year.

    She said: "We are able to train our apprentices from scratch in our own way along with developing the Apprentice throughout their career path within the company. They not only learn the technical skills to do the job but also the workings of the company – they build relationships with the clients and other departments which help as they reach the higher levels in the firm."

    Yamila Borges-Gil, Head of Management Reporting at VISA Europe takes on one higher Apprentice per year who go on to become fully chartered accountants with the CIMA qualification.

    She said: "The advantage of taking on Apprentices is that you have motivated young people with the desire to make a difference; they are able to absorb new information and are willing to learn. This helps to improve the department’s delivery and it also contributes to alleviate with the workload."

    How we can help
    Kaplan’s free recruitment service takes the hard work out of finding the best local talent for your business as all candidates are pre-screened by our recruitment experts to ensure high quality shortlists are provided.

    More information on taking on an Accountancy Apprentice.

  • Apprenticeship Trailblazers and funding reforms

    by Cassandra Macdonald | May 12, 2016

    Summary of current status


    In October 2013, the Government published "The Future of Apprenticeships in England" which set out plans to make improvements to the current system of Apprenticeships, chiefly making them more rigorous and responsive to the needs of employers. This followed a review by the entrepreneur Doug Richard which found the current system to be over-complicated with too many standards and confusion over Apprenticeship frameworks.

    Alongside the review, it was announced that employers from a number of industries including Digital, Automotive and Financial Services, would be involved in setting new Apprenticeship standards and delivery models for job roles in their sectors. These would be known as 'Trailblazers'.

    Where are we now?

    Since 2013, two further Trailblazer phases have been announced involving more and more employers and more and more job roles and sectors. So far over 100 Trailblazer groups have either developed or are developing new Apprenticeship standards and delivery models. Once these have been approved, the new Apprenticeship then goes live and is available for use. The intention is that by 2017 all Apprenticeships will be delivered under new standards and the old frameworks will be withdrawn.

    A full range of groups involved in the Trailblazers can be found at: Sectors including accountancy, insurance, consulting, business and law are all involved.

    Accountancy update

    In March 2014, accountancy was one of the sectors named as part of Phase 2 lead by employers including KPMG, PwC and Grant Thornton and involving all Professional Bodies. This group has so far designed the standards for two Apprenticeships: L4 Professional Accounting Technician and L7 Professional Accountant.

    The group, together with training providers including Kaplan, have then designed an assessment plan for the L4 Apprenticeship standard. The plan is currently going through the approval process. Once approval has been granted, the standard will be available to use. We expect it to most likely be ready for starts in Autumn 2015.

    How does this differ from current L4 Apprenticeships?

    The good news is that the accountancy sector already has very credible, well-used Apprenticeship frameworks, chiefly AAT, but also in more recent years strengthened by the Professional Services Apprenticeships in Audit, Tax, Consulting and Management Accounting. With this in mind, it meant we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel.

    The below bullet points summarise the most likely main similarities and differences between the two approaches. Please note that as this assessment plan has not yet received formal approval it is subject to change.

    Current L4 qualifications

    • Professional qualification
      • AAT
      • CFAB (ICAEW)
      • CIMA
      • CIPFA
      • FIA (ACCA)
      • ATT
    • Portfolio creation
    • Quarterly progress reviews
    • Length of programme (12 month minimum)
    • Funding available

    Trailblazer proposal - all the above plus

    • End-test
    • Grading
    • Work based assessment route

    Main similarities:

    • Both contain a Professional Qualification (if Qualification route is chosen)
    • Both mandate regular reviews of progress to ensure the Apprentice is being exposed to the correct skills and opportunities to enable them to meet the standard required
    • Both require creation of a portfolio of work-based evidence
    • Both take a minimum of 12 months to complete
    • Both attract government funding (always subject to change)

    Main differences:

    • Option under new Trailblazer to follow a work-experience route with more emphasis on gaining evidence in the workplace than on professional exams (although some professional exams would currently still need to be taken).
    • Per old standards the work-based assessment is very prescriptive with detailed requirements that have to be met. Under the new proposed Trailblazer, there is more flexibility over what evidence can make up an Apprentice’s portfolio.
    • Trailblazer standards mandate that there has to be end-point assessment which sits over and above any existing qualification and tests the whole standard synoptically. It is a government requirement that new Apprenticeships be graded.

    When will I have to move my students onto this new standard?

    Once the assessment plan has been formally approved, the standard will become available for use and therefore you can start students on the new L4 immediately, we imagine from late-summer to early-autumn 2015.

    As it stands, the government have indicated that the old standards will remain available for a minimum of 12 months once the new have been approved meaning you can continue to use the current L4 Apprenticeships until at least summer 2016.

    Please note that once a student has started on one of the existing frameworks, they are entitled to complete this framework so will not be forced to switch mid-way through.

    How will funding change?

    The government have also indicated that they intend to reform the current way Apprenticeships are funded, although the outcome of how they will do this is still uncertain.

    As it currently stands, once a new standard is ready for delivery, it will be placed into a funding band which dictates the maximum amount of funding available for that Apprenticeship. Funding is only available if the employer also makes a contribution. For every £2 that the government contributes, the employer will be expected to contribute £1 although incentive payments will be made for hiring 18 year olds, if you are an SME and when the apprentice completes.

    A new model was announced earlier this month which was a digital voucher, issued by the government to the employer and spent with an employer’s chosen provider. No further details have been made available at this stage.

    For any starts on existing frameworks there are no changes to the existing system of funding.

    What about L2 and L3?

    At the moment, these are not in scope of the new standard so there are no immediate planned changes to these frameworks. A Trailblazer proposal to create a L2/L3 standard 'Assistant Accountant' was approved in May 2015.


    Kaplan has been integral in the preparation of the assessment model for the new standard. We believe that it makes improvements to the existing standards, not least by offering a work-based assessment route which can increase access to the profession but also in removing prescriptive assessment standards and bringing in synoptic assessment to demonstrate all the skills, behaviour and knowledge of the standards together.

    As the assessment plan will require some revisions before it is ready for use, our recommendation is that you continue with your recruitment plans as normal with the aim for students to study on any of the existing frameworks – AAT, Audit, Tax, Management Consulting or Consulting. If the assessment plan is ready for use in the Autumn, we would be able to advise you on which would be the best route and we would be ready to deliver under either.

    Our role on both the SFA’s Large Companies Unit, steering committee of training providers and on the working group of several trailblazer groups ensures we are extremely well placed to advise and support you during these changes.

    For further information please contact Cassandra Macdonald, Head of Professional Services Apprenticeships at Kaplan at or visit

  • Kaplan endorsed by the Skills Funding Agency

    by Kaplan News | Mar 15, 2016

    The Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) met yesterday for their annual conference and apprenticeships were high on their agenda. Peter Lauener, CEO of the Skills Funding Agency talked about the challenge of creating an additional 3 million new apprenticeships over the next 5 years.

    It was great to see Kaplan highlighted as one of three successful providers having placed 1856 new learners into an apprenticeship this year to date. This endorsement reflects Kaplan’s commitment to helping young people build a successful career without going to university.

    See Peter’s full presentation.

    Find out more about how Kaplan’s supporting apprentices across the country

  • Why take on an apprentice?

    by User Not Found | Mar 03, 2016

    This infographic highlights the benefits of taking on an apprentice and shows what they can bring to your business and what funding is available.

    To find out more about recruiting an apprentice call Kaplan on 01908 540 064 or read how Kaplan can help.

    An infographic about the benefits of taking on an apprentice

  • National Insurance Contribution savings for apprentices under 25

    by Cassandra MacDonald | Mar 03, 2016

    From 6th April 2016 businesses that employ Apprentices aged under 25 may not need to pay employer Class 1 National Insurance contributions.

    To qualify the apprentice must be:

    • Aged under 25
    • Following an approved UK Apprenticeship framework or standard.

    If your apprentice meets these conditions then employers will need to have evidence to claim the relief. This can either be:

    • A written agreement between the employer, apprentice and training provider that details the scheme the apprentice is on, and the start and expected end date
    • in England and Wales, evidence the apprentice receives government funding

    Employers meeting all these conditions can use a new National Insurance category letter, which is H.

    What should you do?

    If you already employ an Apprentice then speak to your training provider to ensure that you have the necessary evidence to apply the relief.

    Why hire an apprentice?

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

    If you are thinking about employing an apprentice then together with the other great benefits apprentices bring to your organisation, this saving is another great reason to recruit.

    Further guidance on the National Insurance savings can be found on the government website. Or download our factsheet about the National Insurance Contribution savings.

    For further information on the levy or on setting up an Apprenticeship programme please contact

    Cassandra MacDonald is Head of Professional Services Apprenticeships at Kaplan.

  • What is an Apprenticeship?

    by User Not Found | Mar 03, 2016

    Apprenticeships have come a long way since their origins in the Middle Ages. Today there are over 170 industries employing almost half a million apprentices across the UK. Not only do apprentices benefit from hands on experience but most will also work towards gaining a professional qualification.

    View the infographic below to find out some key facts about Apprenticeships.

    To find out more about recruiting an apprentice call Kaplan on 0161 259 9400 or read how Kaplan can help.

    What is an apprenticeship?

  • How to attract a great apprentice

    by User Not Found | Mar 03, 2016

    We recently interviewed over 130 businesses to find out more about the challenges they face when trying to find great candidates for their apprenticeship programmes.

    View the infographic below to see what they told us.

    To find out more about recruiting an apprentice call Kaplan on 01908 540 064 or read how Kaplan can help.

    Infographic about attracting and recruiting great apprentices
  • 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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