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10 things I HATE about…Finance Apprenticeship assumptions

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Matt Rawlins
By Matt Rawlins, Client Director Link to Matt Rawlins's LinkedIn profile
Finance Apprenticeships offer great benefits to businesses. They can learn valuable  skills they can't get from a degree, all while earning.

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

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

1. Apprenticeships are only for young people

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

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

2. Graduates cannot do apprenticeships

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

3. Existing staff cannot become an apprentice.

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

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

4. Apprentices cannot study ACCA, CIMA or ICAEW

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

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

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

6. Apprentices are at college 1 day a week

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Did you know?

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

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

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

9. Only Levy payers can use the new apprenticeships

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

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

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

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

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