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Learning from our apprentices - full report

Young students working

At Kaplan, we’re always interested in trying new methods to understand our learners and how their programmes impact their life and career. So, in January 2020, we took the first steps on an ambitious ten year study of 20 apprentices to find out.

If this sounds in any way familiar, you may be correct. The idea for this study took inspiration from the “Seven Up” documentary series.

This highly influential series was led by Michael Apted, as he set out to interview 14 British school children from different socio-economic backgrounds. This was done every seven years from the age of seven, and continued over several decades.

Gaining insights into apprentices

Whilst we are not expecting to receive the same acclaim or create ground-breaking television, we want to try and gain rich insights into the experiences of our apprentices, not just during their studies, but also after completion of their programmes and well into their careers.

We hoped to gain a deeper understanding as to how completing an apprenticeship affected a learner’s development, attitude to work and future prospects.

Whilst we couldn’t anticipate what was in store for the apprentices taking part in our study in 2020 (or the larger world), they were all eager to continue, and we were fascinated to see how agile and adaptable our learners were in such difficult circumstances.

The study going forward

In early 2020 we held initial conversations to identify 20 volunteers across a range of clients, apprenticeship standards and levels. With the approval of their employers, the apprentices were contacted about the project and agreed on the following aspects of the study going forward:

  • Apprentice of our Time interviews will run from 2020 to 2030.
  • Every six months whilst ‘on programme’, they are contacted by phone/video conference to answer questions on: their development, career progression, perception of the value of apprenticeships, what they would recommend to others about apprenticeships, and where they predict they will be in five years’ time.
  • After completing the apprenticeship, they will be interviewed every twelve months.
  • Responses from the interviews are kept anonymous, but insights and findings are shared in an annual report in the first quarter of every year.
  • We will also disseminate the findings with our senior leadership team and external assurance board and utilise the apprentices' insights to inform programme amendments and adjustments to our provision.
  • Our apprentices’ words will provide guidance to those following in their footsteps.

We are immensely grateful to our clients who are supporting us with this project and to our 2020 Apprentices of Our Time.

Initial findings

We have compiled the first of our findings from this study into a report - “Apprentice of our Time”. Some of the key findings show just how much of an impact apprenticeships have for businesses and the apprentices themselves.

Read the report - Apprentice of our Time

If you’re interested in apprenticeships you can find out more on our pages for learners and employers.