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How we remotely OnBoarded new cohorts during a pandemic

Young student sat at a computer
Surju Kanani - Client Director at Kaplan Financial
By Surju Kanani, Client Director at Kaplan Financial LinkedIn

Kaplan’s Client Director, Surj Kanani, details the steps taken last year to prevent disruption when onboarding was moved to online.

What became very clear last May was that the September 2020 trainee cohorts were going to be done remotely.

Given the numbers involved, with some of our largest clients, the thought of doing this was... scary. I was tasked with supporting one of our key clients (Crowe UK LLP) in this journey.

I remember reflecting on the challenge and focusing on putting my initial concerns to one side in order to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Here’s what we had to do in the months leading up to September.

June 2020 - Application forms

As part of the apprenticeship sign up process, we are required to obtain personal information along with previous qualifications/education for each new trainee.

Historically we sent forms to individuals and asked them to complete them. However we were acutely aware that doing this for 50 new trainees wasn’t going to be efficient or effective. So we implemented a new bulk process.

This allowed the Crowe HR team to collate and provide information in an easier way. We also pre-populated the forms for each of the individuals.

This massively streamlined the apprentice application journey, and if a problem did arise it was easy to resolve.

July 2020 - Pathway planning

With courses being delivered via Live Online for the remainder of 2020, myself and my colleague, Senior Adviser, Harry made sure that all the trainees were aware of their study plans.

It was imperative that each individual had a clear plan of what the first three months of their Crowe career looked like, given the “new normal”.

We were also able to adapt to different start dates for cohorts as a result of our Live Online study method and the flexibility it offers.

August 2020 - Preparing for September

Annual leave issues provided some cause for concern.

Harry, the team, and I had a call in August to address the fact that we were both due to go away at the same time. Amazingly this was the only time we hadn’t co-ordinated our diaries over the last three months!

However, it quickly became clear that everything had come together anyway and there were no real concerns. So in some ways we had achieved a smoother onboarding process than the pre COVID days.

September 2020 - Inductions

All the hard work we put in really paid off when it came to inducting the trainees.

I delivered a video conference explaining apprenticeships and ICAEW at Kaplan, setting clear expectations and outlining the support offered by Kaplan and Crowe.

I also highlighted some study tips for the three years ahead, especially for the first three months of learning remotely!

I look back on this journey as one of the few positives in 2020, and feel honoured to have worked so closely with Harry and the Crowe team on an exciting project that has had a positive impact.

If you are looking for an apprenticeship training provider then please visit our apprenticeships page for more information.