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How to boost your skills

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In a forever-advancing world of data and technology, no matter what industry you work in, it’s important to keep your skills up-to-date and relevant.

Hard and soft skills

Professionally, we usually consider ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ skills. Examples of soft skills may be communication, organisation and time management. These are usually skills that are more common and applied to most professions. Hard skills can be computer programming, data literacy, or data analysis. There are specific abilities that you tend to learn and develop, which will enable you to perform job-specific tasks or make you more attractive to potential employers in your chosen industry.

Hard skills are what make you stand out as an employer or a candidate. For example, not everyone can analyse and understand complex data, and then present it in a fashion that is understandable to everyone. It’s not really possible to advise that you have hard skills if you don’t, as you’ll find it difficult to prove this.

Whereas, the majority of candidates will be able to advise that they have ‘communication’ and ‘time management’ skills. And proving this won’t be as much of a task.

Both hard and soft skills can be developed and strengthened throughout your career. This may be from work experience, education or networking. However, it’s essential to try and make your skills future-proof and keep them up to date.

Professional qualifications

Choosing to further your education, such as by gaining professional qualifications, can boost both your hard and soft skills, making this transferable to later endeavours in life. A popular route that many people choose is to further their education through university. This way, they’ll gain a degree and knowledge in their chosen field.

However, this isn’t always the best route to take when aiming to attract potential employers or advance your career, and here’s why...

Costs, time and support

Depending on how you gain your professional qualification, you may find that the costs of studying can act as a barrier to getting you to where you would like to be.

University education

For example, let’s look at studying at university. There may be that concern about paying thousands of pounds for your education. Aside from this, you may find yourself studying a course with a lack of support. In university lectures, there can be hundreds of other learners with you. Therefore, the lack of one-to-one support can be evitable.

Another downside to attending university is that not everyone can take this route. For example, you may have time or financial constraints, which can leave you feeling like you’re at a constant disadvantage to other candidates. And how are we going to improve diversity in the workplace if we favour only affluent professionals who have fewer responsibilities?

Alternative routes to a professional qualification

On the other hand, you can study for a professional qualification away from the university. If your employer is unwilling to fund this, the same financial concerns may appear. As well as this, you can find yourself facing time constraints. For example, if you’re working full-time, you may struggle to meet deadlines due to your other commitments.

However, at Kaplan, you will be offered support if you’re studying for a professional qualification. From small classroom or online classes led by expert tutors to Progressional Advisor support to keep you on track, and an Academic Support Team to help with any content queries, we do what we can to make sure that you succeed.

To address financial constraints, we offer payment plan methods where you can fund your studies in instalments to try and help you get to where you need to be with fewer worries.


Let’s compare these factors with apprenticeships. The word ‘apprenticeship’ faces a lot of stigmas. We have found that people believe that apprenticeships are for less academically gifted people, or focus solely on practical trades such as engineering or hairdressing. While it is possible to develop a career in industries like these through an apprenticeship, there are also several options to develop your career in fields such as data and technology, banking or financial sectors.

With this in mind, when trying to boost your hard and soft skills, it is important to consider the pros of an apprenticeship, and how this can significantly advance your career.

At Kaplan, you’ll be guaranteed to have support no matter what route you take or the qualification you’re studying. However, as an apprentice, you’ll also have the additional advantage of access to a Talent Coach who will regularly check in to ensure that you’re progressing well and feeling great about your studies. This support also extends to your employers, so you no longer need to worry about time constraints as your employer will be fully on board with your studying.

As a learner, finding money to fund your studies isn’t an issue as you’ll be earning, working and learning while your employer can take advantage of the ways to fund an apprenticeship. It’s a win-win for everyone!

How to boost your skills with an apprenticeship

All-round development

Again, we’re considering both university studies and independent professional qualifications alongside apprenticeships. Studying can be met with financial pressures, lack of support from your employer, and other factors. Aside from this, with a university education, you may find a significant lack of work experience than those who study independently or through an apprenticeship.

With an apprenticeship, you’ll be completing these professional qualifications while boosting your capabilities with sector-relevant skills that you can apply immediately to your work. You and your employer will immediately notice the benefits of your studies.

Committed support and investment

With an apprenticeship, you won’t be stuck in a lecture hall with hundreds of other students. Your education will be much more intimate, with points of contact to support you through your journey. From your Talent Coach, Progressional Advisors, Academic Support Tutors AND expert tutors, you and your employer certainly won’t be facing a lack of support.

Dedicated time

With an apprenticeship, you can boost your potential with dedicated time towards your career development. While you’ll have a full-time job, you’ll still get 20% ‘off the job’ training. This means that you can attend class and get the best out of your apprenticeship. This means that your employer will not need to take time out of their busy day to teach you the knowledge or skills, as there will be expert tutors guiding the way.

Apprenticeship or professional qualification?

Now, we’re not saying apprenticeships are for everyone. But we are saying that it’s definitely something to consider. You may not need the extra support, or you may be able to financially support yourself through your studies by paying for a qualification independently. Your employer may even be happy to fund your studies, and in this case, an apprenticeship might not be the right route for you to go down.

But, if you’re having any difficulties choosing, it’s important to assess the pros and cons of all options and decide what will be best to boost your skills.

Browse our apprenticeship programmes today.

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