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  • Careers in accounting

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 19, 2022

    Gaining a qualification in finance doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be an accountant for the rest of your life. Discover more about the opportunities in the finance sector and how you can get a job you really want.

    In this episode of our Learn Better Podcast, host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning at Kaplan, discusses careers in accounting and the current job market.

    Our guest is Anthony Clarke, Business Development Manager at AAT. Anthony covers the versatility finance qualifications can give your career, the current hot jobs in the finance sector and how to approach your applications and interviews.

    Anthony also talks about how the sector has made a commitment to drive diversity and social mobility and how this has changed the way businesses are recruiting. Instead of just looking at CVs, businesses are putting more emphasis on the individuals, their skills, behaviours and the value they can add to the business.

    Firms are looking at the individual. Those skills that they bring to the business, not necessarily just from a technical perspective, but in terms of how well aligned they are and how their values are well aligned with the business they are working for.

    - Anthony Clarke, AAT

    Key topics:

    Accountancy careers and qualifications

    There are multiple levels to accounting qualifications and unlike what it may seem, the end objective doesn't have to be to qualify with one of the Level 7 Accountancy bodies. There are many job opportunities for you at each level. What you do along your journey is important, the skills you learn and the people you meet.

    There are so many different areas to branch out into in the finance sector and so studying and pursuing a career in finance allows you to keep your options open, helping you to find a role you enjoy and gain a wide range of experience along the way.

    The hot jobs in the sector

    Anthony tells how the job market is really buoyant currently with businesses struggling to recruit at a senior level. However this means businesses have reacted by inventing more in organically developing their own talent for the future, particularly through apprenticeship.

    Audit, for instance, is a very in demand area and there is a common need for companies to expand their teams as businesses are winning new clients almost daily. And with hybrid working, talent is being accessed from all over the country, opening new opportunities to people who previously may have been limited by commuting commitments.

    Diversity

    There has been a real commitment in the sector to drive diversity and social mobility, and businesses are delivering on this promise. Firms are focusing more on the individual rather than the details on their CV and looking at ways to support recruitment that isn't just from the traditional talent pool.

    Anthony comments: “Because we do have such diverse communities within the UK, it’s really important that the talent that are working in [a business’s] Audit team can really reflect, understand and empathise with the client base.”

    Important skills for getting the job

    There are many skills that can help you in your career that can all be learnt through exposure to different environments. For example, a previous job in retail or hospitality can help you to learn how to communicate well with the public.

    The key skills businesses look for in interviews and assessment centres are:

    • The ability to communicate information clearly
    • The ability to analyse information and draw conclusions
    • The ability to present analysis in a palliative way
    • The ability to use technology
    • The ability to collaborate and work as part of a team

    As well as demonstrating these skills it is important to do your research. Researching a business's mission statement and values is key to help you understand how these align to your own values and how you can in turn add value to the business.

    Interested in hearing more?

    Tune in now to listen to the full conversation (episode 13) and learn more about a career in accounting and how to put your best foot forward when applying for your next job.

  • Finding your motivation

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 05, 2022

    Finding motivation can be difficult, but when you learn how to apply your strengths you can begin to tap into your intrinsic motivation.

    This week on our Learn Better Podcast, host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning at Kaplan, looks at motivation and how you can learn to lead a more engaged life.

    Our guest is Ross Anderson, an expert in well being sciences and human optimisation, also known as The Motivational Dude. Ross shares details of his past involving drugs, crime, suicide and family struggles. Plus, how he found a more purposeful path through motivation.

    Ross talks through the different types of motivation and influencing factors. He also outlines the reasons why and how to use your strengths to unlock your motivation. He explains how the key to understanding your strengths and in turn how to motivate yourself, is self-awareness.

    Action beats distraction.

    - Ross Anderson

    Key topics

    What is motivation?

    Motivation is the reason or reasons for one acting in a particular way. There are 2 types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic.

    Intrinsic motivation comes from your inherent joy and satisfaction of doing something, and often when doing these things you will not be distracted from them easily. For example, playing football because you enjoy it.

    Extrinsic motivation comes from influencing factors such as money, wealth, fame and beauty. For example, working hard to receive praise and recognition.

    7 reasons why

    As humans there tends to be seven key reasons why we do what we do, these are:

    • The drive to learn
    • To connect and bond with other individuals
    • To defend and protect
    • To acquire
    • Meaning and purpose
    • Self actualisation
    • The drive to feel

    How to tap into your intrinsic motivation

    To tap into your intrinsic motivation you first will need to go on a bit of a self awareness journey. It is important to learn about your strengths, and you can begin to identify these through an online psychometric test.

    Once you have established your strengths, you will need to live through these and see how they feel. Wrapping your strengths around your activities, goals and pursuits should help you feel energised and motivated.

    Interested in finding out more?

    Tune in now to listen to the full conversation (episode 12) and learn how to take control of your motivation and live a happier, more successful life.

  • Data Analyst powered by SAS - the first apprenticeship of its kind

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 05, 2022

    We’ve exclusively partnered with SAS® to deliver a brand new apprenticeship. Creating a specialist pathway to provide SAS users with modern analytical and data visualisation skills.

    We spoke to David Hanby, Insight Manager here at Kaplan, to find out more about SAS and how it can benefit both businesses and individuals. Find out what he had to say…

    So, what is SAS?

    Originally, SAS stood for Statistical Analysis System but as they now develop more than just statistical software, SAS (pronounced "sass") is more of a brand than an acronym. I liked the acronym at first because I felt like I could pretend I was part of the special air service.

    You can use SAS for anything within the insights and analytics arena: database management, unstructured data, interrogate data, modelling, data interpretation.

    There are different versions of SAS, some are easier to use than others. I currently use SAS Studio which is basically the base level version.

    It’s its own software, and unlike other options, has its own language so doesn't rely on SQL.

    SAS has a certain level of prestige surrounding it.

    By aligning yourself to SAS, automatically you’re at the cutting edge of data analytics.

    Thoughts on SAS’s Data manipulation and efficiency

    It’s a programme I log into and I do all my work from within that. You bring data into the programme and manipulate how you want to use it. Then you can output the data however you want, and in whichever format you want, such as excel, word, powerpoint.

    It’s really fast in terms of handling big data very quickly. You can clean up messy data really well and it has an amazing ability to talk to different platforms through API connectivity to enable live transactional data.

    The user experience

    SAS language is continually evolving. For instance something you wrote a couple of years ago which took 15 lines of code can now be done with a new function or procedure.This constant improvement helps optimise the user experience to make analytics easier.

    The SAS community is also a great open forum. It’s there if you are struggling to do something. They provide a vast resource of advice and support through forums.

    What do you use it for on a daily basis?

    I use it to centralise all our different student data points to answer business questions. This could be based on student performance. For instance, when results are coming out, work will be required to compare those who failed versus those who succeeded.

    SAS enables me to review what they did on our platforms to get the results they ended up with. And it helps me analyse the data and come to conclusions.

    Once we have the conclusions, we talk to our Learning & Curriculum team with recommendations as to how to further optimise the learning experience. It helps us create an idea of what an ‘engaged’ student looks like, based on this data.

    Essentially, SAS lets us get really detailed if needed, but then brings it back and informs a top level summary view of what the users need and helps us understand how to deliver this.

    You know in the TV show 24, everyone wanted to be Jack Bauer, but I didn’t. I always thought the data nerd (Chloe) was the real hero.

    How does it benefit the business?

    As a business, SAS enables us to make data driven decisions. We can create bespoke reports in a timely manner to put in front of the right person. Whether that be the learning or commercial side of things.

    In terms of our commercial reporting, we use it to give commercial managers a live view of which courses are selling well and which are at risk - by incorporating transactional data. It forms the basis of our marketing KPI reports, in terms of student numbers, and allows us to create commercial targets throughout the year.

    Its power is applicable to any business. I worked for Shopdirect for 10 years and used it then. You don’t forget your first experience of SAS.

    I was a report runner back then and didn’t know how to use it that much, so I had to play with it to learn how to use it. I used it to run and build web, affiliate and basic translation reports. The first report I ever ran was a ‘daily offers report’.

    How could training benefit personal development?

    Although I never had formal training on SAS, I can see the value in it because if I did I would be able to understand what it’s doing on a foundation level. Understanding everything from the ground up, the ins and outs and why you are doing it. You’d be less likely to make mistakes and make incorrect assumptions about how it’s manipulating the data.

    Ultimately it would make you much more efficient.

    It is a massive door opener being proficient in SAS. If the skill is on your CV, you have an advantage from an employability perspective. It shows that you can put the work in. It also shows that you are up to speed with the latest in data analytics as SAS is always evolving and improving.

    By aligning yourself to SAS, automatically you’re at the cutting edge of data analytics. SAS’s slogan used to be ‘the power to know’ and that couldn’t be more true.

    Any final thoughts on SAS?

    I can’t overstate how accommodating it is. If I'm working with IT then I can translate and tailor the data to their ways of working. If a team uses SQL as their language then I can write in that language within SAS which makes the conversation much more fluid. So efficient.

    Be a SAS hero - find out more

    Support your decision-making by upskilling your employees or develop your own personal skills through our exclusive partnership with SAS. Check out our Data Analyst powered by SAS apprenticeship to learn more about this programme.

  • Planning your career backwards

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Apr 26, 2022

    Everyone would love to have a job they enjoy, but with jobs continually evolving, career planning can be daunting. Find out how to identify your true skill set and plan your next steps.

    Kicking off series 2 of our Learn Better Podcast, host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning at Kaplan, explores career planning and how to find a job that you enjoy.

    Our guest is Sarah Pritchard, Head of Banking, Finance and Management Design at Kaplan. She describes her own personal journey from studying Set Design at university to finding passion in education. Sharing what she discovered to be important in loving what you do, Sarah provides useful tips for assessing your personal skill set and in turn identifying if a job is right for you.

    Together they talk through: recognising what you are good at, how that ability can be reflected in a job, how to prepare for interviews, the best way to express your ambitions to potential employers, and how to reflect on your journey to help establish next steps.

    If you find a job you enjoy doing, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.

    - Mark Twain

    Key topics

    Not having a traditionally linear career

    Sarah shares her personal journey and how her passion changed from what she studied at university to what she wanted to do - career wise. It is important to understand that plans and passions can change over time and you should be flexible with your career plan and allow for reassessment.

    If your plans do change, don’t worry that you have wasted time. Instead, it is important to look at your journey so far and identify your strengths and weaknesses and what you would like to develop. These can then help you find a job to help you progress and take your next steps.

    Focusing on skill sets rather than job titles

    A big part of the conversation focuses on looking at skill sets rather than jobs as often ambition and enjoyment lies within the skill set rather than the job role itself. Every job will have multiple different responsibilities, and it is key to learn what parts of a role you enjoy and make sure these are present when planning your next steps.

    Interviewing

    Stuart and Sarah explore how to articulate your skill sets and ambitions across to a potential employer. They warn against googling the best answers for common interview questions. Instead, they suggest how to open the interview into a professional discussion, and prepare by thinking about examples where you have demonstrated your skills within the workplace.

    Career planning with exploration, prioritisation and action

    Sarah details how exploration, prioritisation and action can help you solidify your career plan.

    Exploration
    Understand what is the question you are trying to answer. Is it based on skills you need, what your next step up the ladder or how you are going to get a promotion?

    Prioritisation
    Hone in on realistically what is possible and what you need to do next to develop your skills and take a step towards your goal.

    Action
    Make a positive step. Using SMART objectives create short term goals for you to work towards to help progress your career. Make sure they are timely, measurable and realistic.

    Interested in finding out more?

    Tune in now to listen to the full conversation (episode 11) on how to plan your career.
  • Would you like to be a Kaplan tutor?

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 18, 2022

    When studying for your professional exams, did you enjoy learning about accounting standards, management accounting, tax, management, or marketing?

    Have you ever considered standing up in front of a group of intelligent motivated students and helping them understand technical concepts?

    If so, being a Kaplan tutor can be a very rewarding career choice and a path you should consider.

    My journey as a Kaplan lecturer

    I became a tax lecturer so I could explore my fascination with tax. Whilst studying tax for my exams, I felt I was scratching the surface and there were so many facets of the subject I wanted to delve into.

    The other aspect I’ve always appreciated is simplicity – if you truly understand something, you can explain it very simply. It’s so fulfilling to see my students’ eyes light up when they understand a concept, after I have explained.

    The vast syllabus of the tax papers can be very daunting to students as they have limited time to cover the material. So when I condense the material and explain the essence of the principle, it becomes much more manageable for my students.

    I also give my students many real-life examples and try to inject humour into my lectures. When students pay attention and engage with the material, they enjoy the whole experience.

    I have written two tax books called ‘Advanced Tax Condensed’ and ‘Taxation Condensed’ using accelerated learning techniques. These colourful mind maps distil the tax principles and can be used in conjunction with the Kaplan material - to help effective learning.

    Where do Kaplan lecturers come from?

    Many of our tutors tend to come from our qualified students, so if you’d like to become a tutor, it’s a great idea to contact us once you finish your professional accountancy exams.

    Other tutors have come from audit practice, business consultancy or a variety of industry sectors. You can become a tutor at any age as your previous experience will contribute to developing your own teaching style and ethos.

    Some of our tutors have a passion for maths, financial management, accounting standards, management and marketing theory and being a Kaplan tutor allows them to express this.

    Many of the Kaplan tutors love solving puzzles, such as Sudoku and this trait helps them decipher complex case studies and identify the most pertinent issues that need to be addressed.

    Over the years, I have met tutors from the legal profession, police force, personal trainers as well as an aspiring film producer. You just need to love public speaking and helping students.

    My love for my subject is infectious and over the years, I’ve inspired some of my students to become lecturers such as Barbie Gaion who is also a Kaplan Tax tutor and Chloe Carvalho who is a Kaplan Financial Reporting tutor.

    How does the Kaplan tutor interview process work?

    After looking at your CV, Kaplan managers will call you in for a mock 10–15-minute tutorial on a specific subject of your choice. You will be presenting to a class of Kaplan Tutors who will observe and assess you on your presentation skills, knowledge of the subject and how you handle questions and interruptions.

    If you are successful, you will be called in for a second presentation usually on a specific topic before a decision is made to make an offer to you subject to the usual human resource procedures.

    What support does Kaplan provide to its tutors?

    As one of the world’s leading professional trainers, you will receive unparalleled support throughout your tutor career. This starts with a dedicated New Tutor training course by our own Kaplan Training Academy training which is compulsory for all our new tutors.

    Thereafter, you will receive constant support which includes Live Teach-ins where you have the opportunity to observe an experienced tutor delivering the subject you are preparing to deliver.

    Tutors in your region are also very friendly and supportive. They are always on hand to answer any questions you have and provide reassurance when needed.

    Many new tutors also benefit from a dedicated mentor who is a specialist in the subject you will be lecturing in. In my region, I am currently supporting two new tax tutors with any queries they have and keep tabs on their progress when I see them.

    What are some of the gripes about being a Kaplan tutor?

    Revision periods can be particularly busy due to many courses being scheduled in the period before the exam. In addition, students can also be very tense before the exam if they are inadequately prepared, and you will need to manage expectations.

    Our courses can be scheduled up to a year in advance and it can be difficult to know what your plans are so long in advance. It can also be difficult picking up a new subject and mastering the technical content alongside your other courses.

    Benefits of becoming a Kaplan tutor

    Being a tutor means that you will be challenged every day, as each class is different. There is also a deep feeling of purpose and fulfilment in knowing that by helping your students pass their exams. They can build a better life for themselves. I get so much pride from meeting my students years later and seeing what amazing careers they have developed.

    Many recent studies show that many professionals are getting disenchanted with the rat-race of corporate lives and quitting their jobs to find something more meaningful. Being a Kaplan Tutor will give you that sense of purpose.

    You will also receive a market level remuneration package.

    Neil Da Costa is a Senior Tax Lecturer with Kaplan. He believes in inspiring his students and getting them to believe in themselves.

  • Evolving landscapes - women in business and education

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Mar 08, 2022

    In celebration of International Women’s Day we spoke to three senior Kaplan employees about their career paths, and what it’s like to be a successful woman in their chosen profession.

    What is your role at Kaplan?

    Lisa Nelson, Director of Learning and Curriculum

    I lead the teams which design our apprenticeship and PQ curriculum and courses, create our digital content, and make sure our courses are available online and in our virtual learning environment.

    Jenny Pelling, Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity

    I look at apprenticeship strategy, how we should be developing our offer, as well as lead on personal development initiatives for apprentices. I’m also fortunate to work across different groups within Kaplan as part of the EDI steering group.

    Stacey Fitzsimmons, Director of Delivery and Operations

    My role includes everything from learner applications processing, delivery of both classroom and live online tuition, and wrap around academic support.

    I’m also responsible for ensuring that learners are provided with learning materials and receive support from our talent coach team.

    What does an average day or week look like for you?

    Lisa Nelson, Director of Learning and Curriculum

    There really isn’t an average day or week at Kaplan - I work with my own team but also collaborate with numerous teams across the business.

    I spend a lot of time meeting with other people - planning and working on projects to continuously improve what Kaplan offers to its learners. Every week I spend time with my direct reports, helping them to achieve their own goals and solve problems.

    Jenny Pelling, Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity

    What is typical each week is the breadth and variety of work.

    Today, for instance, as I’m writing this I’ve: had meetings on the changes to Financial Services apprenticeship standards, discussed green skills in apprenticeships, prepared to deliver a talk for the Institute of Student Employers conference, discussed summer internships, and more.

    Stacey Fitzsimmons, Director of Deliver and Operations

    There is no such thing as an average day in this role. Coordinating activities of large groups of people to support thousands of learners is something that is very varied and interesting.

    What has been your career path at Kaplan?

    Lisa Nelson, Director of Learning and Curriculum

    I started out in faculty in 1998 at our London ACA business. For the next 6 years I worked in various roles such as: a subject matter expert, managing client relationships, and with overall leadership responsibility for our London ACA training centre.

    In 2006, after I had my second daughter, I moved into a role to digitise our programmes. At the time, learning content on CD Roms was as digital as it got!!!! I procured and set up Kaplan’s first learning management system and created our first learning design and development team.

    In 2020, I became responsible for our Learning and Curriculum team.

    Jenny Pelling, Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity

    I joined Kaplan in June 2019 as the Head of Client Solutions following 25 years in the professional services and education sectors. In 2020, I managed the Partnerships, Education and Design Team as Apprenticeship Partnership Director.

    During that period, we adapted to Covid realities by innovative solutions for skills and behaviours for apprentices.

    More recently, I became part of the Professional Senior Leadership Team.

    Stacey Fitzsimmons, Director of Deliver and Operations

    I started my career as a tutor in the Nottingham office in 2004 after leaving Deloitte.

    My experiences within the Nottingham office gave me the opportunity to schedule courses and coordinate tutors which I fell in love with, especially seeing how the whole picture fitted together.

    This allowed me to progress to managing courses and people, then centres and budgets. I eventually moved into supporting entire central functions at Kaplan.

    I’ve loved my journey at Kaplan, it has allowed me to understand lots of parts of our business and see how it all fits together.

    Back to the beginning… where did you start your career and what influenced your choice?

    Lisa Nelson, Director of Learning and Curriculum

    I started out in practice at Touche Ross (now Deloitte) as an Audit Junior in the Services team. I worked on a vast range of clients including transport, construction, telecommunications and a patisserie (which wasn’t great for the waistline!).

    I attended courses for my ICAEW exams at The Financial Training Company (FTC) - which later became Kaplan and the training centre I would go on to manage.

    As an audit senior and junior manager at Deloitte I spent time in the training department helping onboard and develop new audit juniors - I loved this aspect of my role and decided I wanted to spend all of my time teaching.

    Jenny Pelling, Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity

    Wanderlust dictated my early career: from working in a school in Australia, to qualifying as an English Language Teacher and teaching in colleges across Italy and France.

    Then I trained to become a lawyer and worked as a solicitor for a firm in London and in Brussels. But I couldn’t ignore the pull and purpose of education.

    So I joined a law school in 2003 - where I developed legal apprenticeships as Director of Business and Apprenticeships.

    Stacey Fitzsimmons, Director of Deliver and Operations

    I started my career at Deloitte at 18 as a secretary, in the tax department. A job I found accidentally that everyone said I wouldn’t get.

    This was a whole new world for me having grown up in quite a disadvantaged area. After seeing professional people operate in the professional world, I was hooked! I wanted to progress and looked out for lots of opportunities to do so.

    Once I studied to become ATT qualified I immediately commenced my ACCA studies. At this point I was sent off to Kaplan to learn accountancy and my dream of becoming a tutor was born.

    How was it as a woman working in industry when you started out?

    Lisa Nelson, Director of Learning and Curriculum

    Whilst there were a reasonably even proportion of male and female graduates joining Touche Ross, what was noticeable was the lack of females in senior positions. So from that perspective it did feel male dominated.

    We even had to campaign for the female staff to be allowed to wear trousers - we were successful!!

    Things have changed a lot since then.

    Jenny Pelling, Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity

    In the late nineties, the legal profession was male dominated at partnership levels, but there were equal numbers of men and women joining the profession. What would feel out of step now would be the corporate dress code in the City back then, and the way some Merger & Acquisition deals were celebrated.

    The firm I worked for had strong female role models and a very positive culture, and I’ve been fortunate to continue to work for organisations where that’s the case.

    Stacey Fitzsimmons, Director of Deliver and Operations

    When I first started as a secretary, it was entirely dominated by females. Good, strong, females who I looked up to. The partners at the time were male, but the departments I worked in were really mixed.

    To be honest it never occurred to me that I couldn’t make it because I was female, but I recognise that it was because I was surrounded by great female talent.

    Have you seen a change in the education/ employment landscape? Are there more or less women passing through our courses at Kaplan?

    Lisa Nelson, Director of Learning and Curriculum

    It’s been a while since I have been in the classroom but it feels well balanced and I’ve always felt that women have been well represented at senior levels here.

    I am still friends with some of the female senior managers who were my role models at the start of my career - their careers have gone in different directions but we still stay in touch.

    Jenny Pelling, Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity

    The greatest shift is in flexible working within the employment landscape for women and men. Kaplan’s apprenticeship programmes have a good balance of men and women, although there are some which are male dominated. I’m really pleased that we have a pretty even balance in our Kaplan Apprenticeship Advisory Panel.

    Stacey Fitzsimmons, Director of Deliver and Operations

    I think it has always been quite balanced in my time here, I don’t ever remember a time where I looked out at a group of students and felt that one particular group dominated another. Accountancy has attracted a real mix and that has continued throughout my time at Kaplan.

    What challenges did you have along the way? Do you think this has changed?

    Lisa Nelson, Director of Learning and Curriculum

    I think trying to progress my career and raise a young family was challenging at times and I am not sure much has changed on that front. It’s still a juggling act and in spite of massive improvements, childcare responsibilities still fall predominantly to women.

    I have been fortunate enough to work for an employer that actively supports part time and flexible working, and was able to continue my career on a part time basis for a number of years.

    Jenny Pelling, Director of Apprenticeship Development and Diversity

    Wanting a career in the City and bringing up children was a different prospect in the early 2000s. It would have been unheard of to do what the CEO of the Co-op’s food division recently did: saying she would take a four month career break to help her children through their GCSE and A Level revision stages.

    Also, in the news recently there was a story about a firm appointing a “fertility officer” to dispel the idea that motherhood jeopardises career progression. Employers in general are much more empathetic towards employees than when I started my career.

    Stacey Fitzsimmons, Director of Deliver and Operations

    Luckily I’ve been able to balance the time I’ve had off work with the needs of my family and my role. I’ve been lucky to be able to share my maternity leave with my husband which has worked well.

    I think a common belief has been that a woman always has to make a choice of career or family. I felt that I wanted the best of both worlds. I’ve strived hard to achieve the right levels of flexibility and have been supported to be able to do so.

    But today’s young people face more change than we ever used to have to deal with. The world moves fast so always make sure you are open, adaptable, and at the forefront of it.

    Support change, drive change, and embrace change!!

    If you have ambitions to work in accountancy or other professional sectors then please visit our course overview page.

  • Enter our WorldSkills UK Accounting Technician Competition

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 24, 2022

    Enter your team between 28th February - 1st April.

    WorldSkills UK is a charity that partners with employers, education providers, and government to help bring apprentices together in a competition setting. And now, the WorldSkills UK Accounting Technician competition is looking for talented accountants to enter again in 2022.

    This competition gives apprentices the chance to test their abilities and knowledge against peers and world-class standards in what is known as the ‘skills Olympics’.

    In teams of 2-3, apprentices compete to showcase the talent of the future accounting industry and for the chance to win a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal. The winning team also has the possibility to represent the UK at the WorldSkills global competitions. Participation can even count towards your 20% Off-the-Job learning time.

    Why should you enter?

    • Prove your talent in a globally recognised space
    • Build your confidence
    • Be in with the chance of receiving a Gold Medal and national recognition
    • Showcase your involvement on your CV
    • Be inspired by peers, colleagues, and represent the future of the industry
    • The winning team could also get the chance to represent the UK at a global level

    Key dates and entry requirements:

    • 28th February - 1st April: Registrations
    • 4th - 25th April: First stage begins
    • 13th June: Qualifiers begin
    • September/October: Development Day ahead of the Final
    • November: UK National Final and Results Ceremony

    This is a team competition with a minimum of 2 people and a maximum of 3. It is intended for those studying, training and/or working in the accounting and finance sector. Competitors must meet at least one of the following criteria:

    1. Undertake a Level 3 or 4 apprenticeship, or first year of L7 apprenticeship; or
    2. Undertake an equivalent qualification (eg HND in Accounting); or
    3. Have completed a Level 3 or 4 apprenticeship within the past 12 months

    For further details and to enter your team before 1st April, please visit our competition page or contact worldskillsuk@kaplan.co.uk.

  • Kaplan Success Story: From Kaplan scholar, to dream job

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 24, 2022

    We caught up with Magdalena Woźnikiewicz, two years after gaining a place on Kaplan’s AAT scholarship (2020) to find out what studying has meant for her career.

    Hi Magdalena! Tell us how you came to hear about Kaplan

    When I moved to the UK and started my job search I knew I wanted to continue working in finance, as that was my background in Poland. Very quickly, I discovered that UK job sites referred to certificates such as: AAT, CIMA, ACCA when it came to finance roles.

    After further investigation, I saw a Kaplan article that referred to an opportunity for a Kaplan Scholarship Place to study L2 AAT. So I signed up for this and a few weeks later I was told that I had been successful.

    I was so delighted because Kaplan has given me a chance to expand my knowledge and to start my professional career here. This was exactly the opportunity I needed at the time.

    How was your experience with us?

    In my drive towards professional growth and career goals, Kaplan clearly understood and responded to my needs. The company created an environment where I could quickly develop, by providing me with all materials and support that are necessary.

    Thanks to the "MyKaplan” study platform I was able to monitor my progression and keep track of all my mock exam results. I was also able to review the topics I had to work on and organise my study time effectively.

    Having both printed textbooks and videos allowed me to study effectively on my own, and in my spare time.
    A screenshot of 2 emails confirming Magdalena’s scholarship, above images of a Kaplan box filled with Kaplan study materials that she received

    What has taking part in this scholarship meant for your career?

    During my time studying I have also been working in my day job, and thanks to being given a Careers Coach as part of the scholarship programme, I was given the confidence to explore internal finance roles within my current company. The advice from my Careers Coach was great.

    I had been getting to know more about other departments, and luckily a very interesting job vacancy became available - because I had been speaking to colleagues in the department, they encouraged me to apply - so I did.

    A few days later I was notified that I was successful! I was very grateful that the management team, from the finance department, trusted me enough to offer it to me.

    So far, under my supervisor's outstanding leadership, I have been able to contribute strongly to our team.

    How do you intend to advance your career further?

    After the wonderful experience with Kaplan, I have decided to continue my studies and start CIMA - to further improve my skills and knowledge. This is something I also discussed with my Careers Coach - I have already received my materials, and I’m happy to continue this amazing and motivational journey with Kaplan.

    Although the scholarship has now ended, I was offered a final Careers Coaching session to talk about my longer term career goals which I am looking forward to.

    I believe studying CIMA will allow me to explore complex finance topics so I can be even more productive and efficient at work.

    Anything else you would like to share with us?

    I’m very grateful to Kaplan that they’ve given me an opportunity and have trusted me. I always believe that with effort and dedication, great things can happen. This was proven when I unexpectedly received Employee of the Year at my company at the end of last year!

    I wish everyone could have the same experience and support in their professional journey as I have received.

    To discover more about AAT and CIMA, and how they can boost your career prospects, please visit our course pages.

  • There’s still a lack of diversity in accountancy, and we want to change that

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Feb 10, 2022

    Many areas of society are still underrepresented in the professional services sectors, and we want to use our privileged position to challenge this.

    Now is the time to act. Now is the time to listen.

    It’s been a tough couple of years and we’re proud of what we’ve achieved. But if we’re completely honest with ourselves it’s clear that our sector still mostly serves a specific demographic.

    After some reflection, we realise it's not enough to simply offer the same to every student. Some of our students come to us from more disadvantaged backgrounds: due to their home life, their education, or the discrimination they’ve faced.

    Our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusivity (EDI) steering group

    So in 2020 we put together a team, made up of people from all over the business who have the passion and influence to make real change. Many of these people can see first hand the issues some students face, and this gives us insight into what needs to change.

    Much of this insight comes directly from our apprenticeship EDI learner data .This allows us to understand the demographics of approx. 60% of our student population. This year, however, we are to launch a new data capture tool to get an understanding of all students.

    So far, our steering group has helped facilitate many internal changes. We now deliver inclusivity training to all managers and tutors in the company, and we have incorporated EDI learner training within our learning platform MyKaplan. We have also reviewed our company policies to ensure that learners are protected as students with us.

    Collaborating with other companies

    We are also focussed on helping people from underrepresented and diverse backgrounds get the career opportunities they deserve. So we’ve started work building relationships with organisations that share our concerns.

    Companies such as Career Ready, RefuAid, and Rareqol have partnered with us to help create internship programmes for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.

    We have also initiated a period poverty pilot and awarded scholarships to those who are disadvantaged.

    But this is just the beginning

    We need to be sensitive to cultural differences internally too...

    From the way we design our apprenticeships and programmes, the way we teach, the way we support and provide services, EDI needs to remain at the forefront of all our thinking.

    And for lasting change to happen, our efforts must be shaped by those affected by discrimination. Feedback is vital.

    So through our annual survey we’re now discovering how inclusive our learners thought we were over the course of 2021, plus we hosted our first Kaplan-wide EDI summit in January this year. Through our EDI focus group meetings, conversations are ongoing so that this subject stays on the agenda.

    We’re listening

    We’re not trying to promote ourselves with this public call to action, we’re trying to hold our hands up and claim that we could do better. The first step towards change is accepting that change needs to happen.

    If you are working for an organisation that shares some of these concerns and you see an opportunity to collaborate then please reach out. Or if you’re a learner and have any thoughts around how we can work better and be more inclusive - get in touch.

  • Kaplan receive highest rating after Quality Assurance Agency review

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 13, 2022

    Every year we take part in a quality assurance visit led by the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), and in our latest Annual Monitoring Review we received a ‘commendable’ rating. This is the highest judgement we could have received.

    The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) is responsible for maintaining standards and improving quality in UK Higher Education (at L4 and above). The UK Quality Code is a key reference point for UK Higher Education, and is a strong indication that Kaplan continues to develop and maintain effective quality assurance practices.

    We took part in a series of meetings with the QAA inspection team in November, including a student forum and a staff forum. This allowed the inspection team to really probe into the evidence that we provided them with back in September.

    We're absolutely delighted that QAA continues to recognise the high quality standards that we are constantly striving towards maintaining.

    - Sarah Powell, QAA Lead

    Our students were keen to share their thoughts with the team, reflecting what they found to be positive aspects of our provision:

    • They praised MyKaplan for its ease of use and comprehensive content. Students particularly liked its flexibility, the ‘chat with tutors’ function, videos and recap materials.

    • They valued the availability and responsiveness of teaching staff, citing examples of the quick responses and support provided in the evenings and at weekends.

    • We have an active Apprenticeship Advisory Panel, which was recommended as a useful means of communication for students and staff to secure improvements to the programme and student experience. Student members felt that their voice was always heard in the panel meetings.

    • Students confirmed that Kaplan followed up with surveys, sometimes communicating personally and then implementing clear improvements. They also confirmed that there was clear guidance on identifying and accessing additional support.

    Other recognition

    Our last full Higher Education Review (HER) from QAA took place in November 2020 and we were deemed to ‘meet expectations’ for both maintaining academic standards and the quality of student learning opportunities.

    This was the highest achievement level, and we received no recommendations or affirmations of actions being taken. They identified the following as an area of best practice:

    • The comprehensive and interactive virtual learning environment, MyKaplan. Rapidly developed and enhanced during COVID-19, it provides a highly effective resource for student learning and makes a particularly positive contribution to student achievement and satisfaction.

    We are proud of the work we do for our learners, and tirelessly work on enhancing their learning experience, whether that be in the classroom or learning remotely. So it’s fantastic to see one of our key regulators giving us such positive and objective feedback.

    Here’s to a successful year for all our learners!

  • Kaplan launches a new study method - Classroom Live Streamed

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Jan 13, 2022

    Classroom Live Streamed is our new study method that provides the full classroom experience - but without the need to travel. So why did we design this study method? Who is it for? And how is it different?

    This study method was designed to solve a common problem our students face: they want the classroom experience but logistical problems prevent them from getting to learning centers.

    How does it work?

    Classroom Live Streamed combines Kaplan’s high quality in-classroom experience with the flexibility to study from wherever you, or your staff, want.

    Any learner can log in to live classroom sessions via Zoom, and will be able to see the tutor plus the students sitting in the live classroom. It makes them feel like they are physically there.

    We provide all the same learning materials so the learner can seamlessly work and interact with those in the classroom. This means they will be able to listen to the questions asked both in class and online, and contribute to the conversation.

    The tutor will be able to see all learners on their screen and we encourage them to have their cameras on to make the most of this innovative and exciting new way to learn.

    Who is it for?

    As a result of the pandemic many learners could only study online. To their surprise some found it wasn’t as bad as they had expected. Many concluded that they preferred it.

    Yet there was still something missing. That feeling of being part of a cohort and community.

    Classroom Live Streamed is ideal for learners who want to choose how they want to study, be that in the classroom or online. It provides an opportunity to learn in an environment that works best for the learner.

    For those who choose this study method there is a greater sense of community and belonging because you're able to see, hear, and engage with everyone, including the tutor - just as you would in the classroom.

    This leads to more questions being asked and opinions shared, improving both understanding and levels of concentration.

    How is it really different to Live Online?

    Live Online is one of the best ways in which to study remotely. However, it is still very much an online experience. With Classroom Live Streamed you feel as if you are physically in the classroom.

    The reason we recommend you keep your camera on is so that the tutor and classroom learners can see and hear you as well. This helps create a feeling of inclusion, resulting in higher levels of engagement for everyone.

    The tutor will present as normal: annotating the notes, explaining complex topics, and asking questions of the learners. Some students are sitting in the classroom whilst others, who are equally engaged, just happen to be online.

    To help illustrate the key differences between our study methods, here is a table:

    What Classroom Live Online Classroom Live Streamed Distance Learning
    Live, tutor-led classes at set times check_circle check_circle check_circle
    Re-watch your lessons
    check_circle check_circle
    Learning materials available - including study text, pocket notes/revision cards and exam/revision packs check_circle check_circle check_circle check_circle
    Award winning online learning resources including bite-sized tutor-led videos check_circle check_circle check_circle
    Marked mock exams and lots of additional practice questions check_circle check_circle check_circle check_circle
    Access to Academic Support 7 days a week check_circle check_circle check_circle check_circle
    Interact with other students studying the same course check_circle check_circle check_circle
    Pass Guarantee available with full course check_circle check_circle check_circle
    Study at your own pace


    check_circle
    Classes capped at 40 students check_circle check_circle check_circle

    How can I access this type of course?

    Currently the Classroom Live Streamed study method is available for our ATT and CTA courses, and later this year we may roll it out for others - so watch this space.

  • AI in Accountancy

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 10, 2021

    Find out how the accountancy profession embracing AI technology could benefit society and give employees in the sector an instant promotion.

    In the final episode of the Learn Better Podcast first series, our host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning at Kaplan, talks about AI in Accountancy and its implication on jobs in the sector.

    Kaplan’s Learn Better podcast covers topical subjects to support our past, present, and future learners to succeed in both their studies and careers.

    Guest Ben Grubert, CEO at Inevitable, helps break down the technological jargon that surrounds AI, and explains the benefits it can bring to the working world. Putting simply what AI is and how it works, Ben shares examples of how it can take over monotonous, repetitive tasks, and free up time for people to create value in their profession.

    Together Stuart and Ben explore how AI can provide a competitive advantage to businesses and in turn open accountancy services to the masses.

    I would argue that there is more room for accountancy to grow if it embraces the technology rather than runs away from it.

    - Ben Gruber, CEO at Inevitable

    Key topics:

    What is AI and how does it work?

    Ben details how AI is the process of emulating human-like decision making in processes. This is done through algorithms which are a linear series of processes put in order to achieve an effect. In its simplest form it is a logic based, artificial way of making decisions.

    The way that a knight moves in chess, two moves forward and one to the side - that’s an algorithm.

    Examples of similar sectors using AI

    Ben also shares how an insurance company is utilising AI to help in multiple aspects of their business, from onboarding customers using a chatbot, to a claims analysing video system helping them to automate all but the most complicated cases.

    That has allowed the team to focus on creating value rather than doing the monotonous things that they repeat everyday.

    What are AI's implications on jobs?

    A clear theme throughout this episode is how AI can take on repetitive and monotonous tasks, but Stuart questions how this will impact jobs. Ben explains that introducing AI into Accountancy should be no different than the introduction of the calculator into banking.

    AI will free up time and allow employees to focus more on other more complex tasks that need a human touch. In essence giving employees the opportunity to step up into the roles where they are spending more time on valuable tasks than repetitive tasks.

    AI will give everyone a promotion into the role they should be doing, not the one they are doing right now.

    Interested in finding out more?

    Tune in now to hear more about AI and how it can change the Accountancy sector for the better. Keep an eye out for series 2 coming out in Spring 2022.

  • Kaplan receives Chartered status

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 01, 2021

    We are pleased to announce that Kaplan has now been awarded Chartered status by the Chartered Institution of Further Education (CIFE).

    The CIFE was set up in 2013 by the then Minister of Skills John Hayes to recognise the important role that Further and Technical education plays in the economy and in developing the skills of our future workforce. It’s a very prestigious honour and only 18 organisations currently hold this accolade.

    We know from our experience what a difference achieving Chartered status means to learners in sectors such as Accounting. So it’s something that we have great pride in now we’ve achieved it for ourselves.

    Our application was particularly welcomed as it demonstrated expertise in our sector, but it also recognises the valuable work we do across the wider industry.

    It also reflected the commitment of the employers that we work with to provide a first class training and employment experience.

    One provider, many masters?

    As a regulated Further Education provider, an Inspected Independent Training provider, and a commercial business, it can be difficult to know where to focus most effort.

    What your clients, board, and regulators want can seem to be very different and if you aren’t careful you can lose your direction.

    As we went through the Chartered application process, we had to look for our true north and work out whose requirements held the trump card.

    The only answer to this was an unremitting focus upon the learner. If we got things right for them, then it meant that we could satisfy the needs of all other stakeholders, or at least explain to them why we are doing what we do.

    As well as regular satisfaction surveys and feedback, we have introduced learner feedback forums to explore the learner experience in greater detail and depth.

    An example

    A good example of this has been a recent workshop on communications to learners. Like many businesses, we have often relied on email to communicate information: it’s fast, reliable and leaves a permanent record.

    However, with our learner base being mostly aged 18-24, the feedback was that email is not something that they have grown to rely on in the same way as some of us older workers have over the past twenty years.

    They find it confusing to store and interpret, and often don’t even read the carefully constructed messages that we send out to them! Thus, we need to find a smarter, more modern way to communicate with them. This is not just limited to Social Media either, but finding meaningful points of contact.

    This is a fairly common example of the kind of issue that an application for Chartered Status helped us to focus on and improve.

    We’re delighted that our continuous drive towards improving what we do has resulted in such prestigious recognition, and this achievement should also be credited to our clients and learners too.

  • WorldSkills UK National Champions winners are revealed

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Dec 01, 2021

    On 15th November our 4 finalist teams battled it out in the Accounting Technician WorldSkills UK Final. Find out which team managed to secure first place.

    During the Qualifiers, Riverside College, Lloyds Team 2, City of Glasgow College, and LIFO the Party (Bridgend College), all gained a place in the Accounting Technician Final. To prepare them ahead of time, a development day was run in October where the teams were given the knowledge and tools to help them succeed.

    On 15th November, at MediaCity in Manchester, each team arrived ready to work hard and tackle the challenge ahead of them. They were given four hours to complete a case study and tasks, set at a level slightly higher than what they are currently studying. This required them to demonstrate their talent, knowledge, and skills within the set time.

    The tasks didn’t just focus on ‘number-crunching’ and core principles like the previous stages, but instead looked at where the role of accountancy is going. They had to be more strategically minded and provide business consultancy.

    It was fantastic to see all the teams come together to compete face to face. There was a great atmosphere and it was inspiring to see each team thrive under the competitive pressure. Every one of our finalists can be extremely proud to have made it to the first ever final of the Accountancy Technician competition.

    The results were revealed via a virtual awards ceremony on Friday 26th November, with the apprentices watching remotely to find out which team had won.

    The results

    1st place - Lloyds Team 2

    2nd - LIFO the Party (Bridgend College)

    3rd - Riverside College

    City of Glasgow College fell just short of a medal place, but can still be very proud of themselves.

    All of the teams competed brilliantly and it was great to see the effort put into their final presentations which were very impressive. This year’s top 3 teams will receive their medals to commemorate their fantastic achievements.

    A very big congratulations again to the winners Lloyds Team 2 who may even get the chance to compete internationally at the 47th WorldSkills Competition, due to take place in Lyon 2024.

    You can watch the virtual results ceremony now, or to find out more about the competition check out the WorldSwkills UK website.

  • Kaplan wins at the Learning Tech Awards for Best Learning Game

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 26, 2021

    We have been awarded the Gold prize at the Learning Technologies 2021 Awards for a business game, which helped onboard ‘new to bank’ apprentices.

    This recognition is for our work with Lloyds Banking Group, and education tech company Interpretive, in our development and execution of an apprenticeship support game.

    Given the challenges that our learners were presented with last year (starting in the workplace during a lockdown) LBG’s latest cohort would not receive traditional face to face inductions, nor classroom skills training - so an online induction was necessary.

    Our business game was borne out of a need to keep apprentices engaged, connected, and make their first few weeks enjoyable, whilst being aligned with LBG’s values

    The game

    We designed an extension of one of Interpretive’s online commercial challenge games to help develop the skills and behaviours of the relevant apprenticeship standards.

    Within the game, apprentices competed for: the highest customer satisfaction, the highest profit, creativity and innovation, and best presentation, at a final awards session. Each team’s decisions affected other teams e.g. price, promotion, and their position within their market.

    This had a positive effect on the apprentices’ engagement, skills and development, and retention.

    The Award

    The impact and effectiveness of this new game clearly resonated with the Learning Technology Award panel. They commented:

    The judges felt that this entry provided a holistic solution with the use of numerous modalities, putting a serious game at the heart of a programme that clearly engaged and enabled the learners.

    - Learning Technology Awards website 

    The game offered up a simulation that facilitated meaningful opportunities to build the real-life relationships we were looking for.

    It created a genuine buzz amongst the apprentices and had a positive impact on their confidence, skills and creativity, resulting in measurable benefits for the business.

    We are delighted to be recognised for adapting to the changes our learners faced, and hopefully this reflects that they are at the heart of everything we do.

    For more information about the awards please visit the Learning Technologies website.

  • Accountancy around the world

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 26, 2021

    We discuss how you can pursue your accountancy career abroad and the opportunities available when you gain a globally recognised accountancy qualification.

    This week our host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning here at Kaplan, explores accountancy around the world and how you can work abroad after qualifying in the UK.

    Kaplan’s Learn Better podcast covers topical subjects to support our past, present and future learners to succeed in both their studies and careers.

    Alex Swift, Insurance Director at R5 and former Kaplan student, highlights the opportunities available abroad and shares his personal experience of being an accountant in a foreign country.

    As well as sharing his own journey to Columbia, Alex provides advice on what you need to think about before making the move and how to pursue a career once in another country.

    We have had luck, I have been open to the opportunity, and undoubtedly the ACA and the financial background has put me in the position to pursue those openings.

    - Alex Swift, Insurance Director at R5

    Key topics:

    Alex’s journey

    Alex details why he decided to move abroad and how what he thought was going to be 6-9 months living in Columbia, turned into five years. Now after setting up a new company he doesn’t see himself moving back to the UK anytime soon.

    Alex also provides insight into how he networked to find work opportunities, and how he was able to use his ACA qualification and knowledge to change a casual conversation into a job interview.

    Being open to opportunity and questioning the why?

    Alex mentions that being open to opportunity doesn't necessarily mean actively pursuing and looking for opportunities, but just having an open mind so that when something does arise you are ready to truly consider it.

    When you are ready to consider opportunities he suggests that you really need to find your “why?”. Why do you want to pursue this opportunity? If you don’t have passion for what you will be doing, there is no point pursuing that opportunity.

    Globally recognised qualifications

    In the podcast we also hear from other students as well as Alex, and a key theme that is noted is the flexibility you gain with an accountancy qualification. Having a globally recognised qualification gives you the ability to work abroad without the need to retrain as needed in other professions.

    An accounting qualification can be a stepping stone to wherever you want it to be.

    Interested in finding out more?

    Tune in now to listen to the full conversation on accountancy around the world, or discover more information on routes into accountancy and gaining a globally recognised qualification.

  • Well-being in your studies

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 11, 2021

    We discuss why awareness of your own well-being is key to success, and how it can impact your performance.

    This week our host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of learning here at Kaplan, explores the topic of well-being and it’s impact on your studies and working life.

    Kaplan’s learn better podcast covers topical subjects to support our past, present and future learners to succeed in both their studies and careers.

    Guest expert mental health speaker, Ross McWilliam of Mindset Pro, talks through the importance of acknowledging well-being and how to optimise our productivity through taking care of our wellness. He asks “Does being the best come at the expense of mental health?”, as well as sharing the 5 pillars to help you perform at your maximum.

    If you disregard well-being or don’t give it enough respect, it will come knocking on your door.

    - Ross McWilliam, Mindset Pro

    Key Topics:

    What is wellness?

    Wellness is being in a position to enjoy life and reach our potential whilst also being about to know when we are being compromised and know how to improve it when it happens.

    Being aware of your own wellness and well-being is key.

    The 5 pillars of wellbeing

    • Sleep:
      With sleep it is important to find what works for you and not worry about it too much as this itself can cause you stress.

    • Diet:
      People generally know what they should eat to maintain a healthy balanced diet. But making sure this is a priority can really help to support your wellbeing.

    • Exercise:
      Going outside, getting vitamin D and moving is a great way to improve your wellness. Exercise doesn't have to be going for a run or a 2 hour gym session. A great way to keep moving, without thinking about exercise specifically, is through activities like gardening. It keeps you moving and distracts your mind.

    • Being connected:
      We all know that being connected to other people is important to our wellness.
      Being connected to other people, doing something together where we don’t feel judged is essential for our wellbeing.

    • Self esteem and purpose:
      Self esteem and purpose is at the core of who we are. Learn, grow and enjoy life, don’t be too critical on where you are or compare yourself to others. Accept where you are in the world, or challenge it if you need to.

    Failing fantastically

    Often people talk themselves out of things to avoid failure. However, some of the best achievements in history have come from great people failing fantastically. So much can be learned from mistakes and we shouldn’t be scared to fail, as otherwise you can end up missing out on what you could have achieved.

    So, fail fantastically - like the greats.

    It’s not always who gets there first, it’s as long as you get there.

    Working at 85%

    People often believe you should always work at 100%, but that can leave little room for you to step up when needed. Instead you should think about working at 85% as this gives you the flexibility to take on extra work when it is needed but without causing yourself to burn out.

    Interested in finding out more? Tune in now.

  • It’s raining distinctions for our apprentices

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Nov 05, 2021

    Despite the challenges that come with being a Junior Management Consultant Apprentice, many of our recent cohort excelled. Find out how they exceeded expectations.

    In 2019 a group of 25 PwC learners started their journey, undertaking the Level 4 Junior Management Consultant Apprenticeship. This career path is highly demanding and often requires students to go above and beyond.

    Throughout the apprenticeship, learners must put the skills and knowledge they are acquiring into practice, and embed them into their daily role. Our Talent Coaches support the apprentices at every stage of their journey, helping to draw out the learners’ full potential.

    The Junior management Consultant programme is just one of the examples of how PwC are raising the standards within Industry through the innovative design model and collaboration with industry leading organisations.

    - Tam Choudhury and Priti Miyangar (PWC)

    18 distinctions

    After putting their skills and knowledge into practice, 7 of the apprentices acquired a pass and a whopping 18 secured distinctions. This is a fantastic achievement from all the learners, and a testament to the support they received from their Talent Coaches.

    To complete the apprenticeship learners must take part in the End Point Assessment (EPA), which is no mean feat. They must produce a showcase portfolio which is built over several months evidencing their application of learnings in their workplace.

    Following the submission of the portfolio, they will take part in an interview and presentation with a third party assessor. This forces them to return the knowledge and skills they have learnt and apply it within the set task, proving their competency.

    Throughout the apprenticeship, Talent Coaches work to understand each learner and their unique challenges, tailoring their support to each individual to get the best out of each and everyone. This is particularly important during the EPA when learners must go into depth about the subject and make sure there is sufficient information to support their portfolio.

    The key to success

    It is a combination of hard working learners and supportive Talent Coaches that led to this success. Helen Daglish was one of the accomplished Talent Coaches supporting this cohort:

    "As a Talent Coach, I have found it a very rewarding experience. The students were all very committed to doing well, both in their technical qualification and the End point assessment process. Cannot wait to support the next cohort."

    Helen Daglish - Kaplan Talent Coach

    Not only were the learners committed to doing well, but Helen was committed to help every single one of them succeed. Here is what some of them had to say:

    “I felt comfortable reaching out to Helen any time of the day and she would always make time for me. She was very supportive and I felt that it took pressure off me.

    “At times when the deadline is approaching for something, Helen would ring me or send me a polite reminder notice. It really showed that she cared for my success.

    One key point that I feel is important to mention about Helen is her ability to explain things at its simplest form. This was super helpful, especially as I was writing my reflective statements.”

    Vitality - PWC Apprentice

    “Having successfully passed all of my exams by December 2020 I was in a great position to enter the Gateway review and commence the end point assessment (EPA). However, I suddenly got very ill where both my physical and mental health suffered greatly.

    “Despite this setback, with the help and support of the wonderful PwC PQ team and Kaplan leads, we were able to construct a new timetable that allowed me to complete the EPA on time.

    “It was then up to me to put in the hours and work hard to complete it. This simply would not have been possible without the exceptional support and guidance from Helen, my talent coach.

    “She went above and beyond to ensure I was able to achieve this. She was a kind and reassuring voice and found solutions to any and every query or worry that I had!

    “It truly was a proud moment to receive an email from Kaplan detailing that I had achieved a Distinction in my portfolio. Helen and I had built a fantastic and authentic relationship during our time working together and were both absolutely thrilled with the outcome.”

    Abbie - PWC Apprentice

    We are extremely proud of all of the learners and Talent Coaches, and congratulate them on their hard earned success.

    Interested in Apprenticeships?

    Whether you’re a student wanting to progress in your career, or an employer with staff you’d like to nurture, an Apprenticeship could be the right option for you.

    Find out more about our apprenticeships.

  • The Digital Skills Gap

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 28, 2021

    With employer demand for digital skills outstripping the supply, we share how apprenticeships can give you the advantage in the jobs market.

    In this week's episode, our host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of learning here at Kaplan, looks at the Digital Skills Gap and the opportunity it has presented for those willing to upskill.

    Kaplan’s Learn Better podcast covers topical subjects to support our past, present and future learners to succeed in both their studies and careers.

    Our guest this week is Jason Moss, Apprenticeship Development Director at Kaplan. Helping us to understand the difference between knowledge and skills, Jason explains what employers are looking for and how studying an apprenticeship to learn these digital skills can help further your career and increase your employability.

    As a technical person you need to be a bit more rounded than you used to be historically.

    - Jason Moss, Kaplan Apprenticeship Development Director

    Key topics

    What is the difference between knowledge and a skill?

    Knowledge is knowing how something is done, however a skill is the ability to do something, with little or no support and competently. With the digital skills gap the need focuses on people being able to put digital and technical skills (such as coding, software development, data analysis etc.) into practice.

    How are skills taught?

    With apprenticeships skills are taught in 3 levels: the delivery of the knowledge, the practicing of implementing these skills into a problem within a classroom or lab, and then finally taking these skills into the workplace to use in real life scenarios. These steps give learners a safe pace to learn and practice skills in an environment where they can make mistakes and it doesn’t matter. This then allows them to be confident when applying the learned skills within the workplace.

    What do employers want?

    Currently employer demand for digital skills is outstripping the supply available. But technical skills are not the only thing employers are looking for. Employers are also looking for people who are collaborative, logical thinkers, curious, creative and effective communicators.

    It’s important to be able to work seamlessly with others within the business as well as being productive independently.

    As a technical person you need to be a bit more rounded than you used to be historically.

    - Jason Moss, Kaplan Apprenticeship Development Director

    How are skills assessed?

    To make sure your learned skills are well and truly embedded and you can utilise them competently, apprenticeships assess you through a range of different methods.

    • Classroom/lab assessment:
      Initially you are assessed in the classroom/lab environment to make sure you are getting the right outcome and that you use the correct methods to get there.

    • Assignments in the workplace:
      Once it is shown that you are able to demonstrate the correct skills and knowledge within the controlled assessments, you will then be set a task within your workplace. This will test how you implement your learned knowledge and skills into real world tasks.

    • Employer assessment:
      Before going through the end point assessment your employer will sign off to say that you have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and behaviours learned on the apprenticeship to help you do your job competently.

    • End point assessment:
      An independent third party assessment organisation will review your portfolio of work and have an interview or professional discussion to assess that the relevant skills are shown. Often a task will also be set for you to complete under the observation of the independent assessor for them to then make a final decision on you successfully passing your apprenticeship.

    Starting your career and upskilling

    Whether you are starting your career or looking to upskill/reskill, there is a growing need for digitally skilled professionals, which is providing a lot of opportunity for those willing to learn and develop.

    Jason comments: “If I was somebody thinking of either starting a career or upskilling or reskilling in some capacity, then looking at these [digital] skills would be really advantageous and give me a fantastic opportunity.”

    Interested in finding out more?

    Tune in now to listen to the full conversation on apprenticeships and the Digital Skills Gap, or check out our apprenticeships pages for more information.

  • You said, we did - in 2021

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | Oct 28, 2021

    It’s been another tough year, but we’re always trying to improve and listen to what you need. We receive student feedback throughout the year, and focus on implementing changes that can really make a difference.

    Here’s what we’ve done:

    Live Online

    You told us that ‘Live Online sessions run in WebEx were often unreliable’, so we transitioned to Zoom instead. This has proven to be more than 96% reliable. In our continued efforts to improve the use of the platform we also introduced zoom meetings to encourage further engagement.

    Those of you that had to move to Live Online from Classroom said that you ‘...found it hard to concentrate, sessions were a bit too fast’, and that ‘the chat panel could become too busy in larger classes’. To tackle this we made sure that Live Online sessions became more bite-size, with more breaks and varied learning activities.

    We also now provide recordings of live sessions so you can revisit your lessons.

    Many of you have found these changes helpful and consequently have opted to stay with Live Online given its flexibility.

    Booster courses

    Due to the delayed exams, you told us that you were ‘...worried about forgetting what we had learnt’, so we’ve created booster courses for ACA, ACCA, ATT, and CTA, and recap courses for AAT with extra content, including question debriefs, to support you through your extended study period.

    We also reorganised the timing of 1,500 progress tests and mock exams to ensure that these were at appropriate times for each course and extended your course access.

    Wellbeing

    You told us that you were ‘...worried about our wellbeing and motivation to study during the pandemic’, so we used Instagram to stream live interviews, to talk about issues such as mental health, wellbeing and how to study effectively from home.

    Over 14 weeks, we spoke to 12 guests including experts from the ACCA, AAT, CIMA, ACA, AICPA, CABA, and MIA. Approximately 409 people viewed the live sessions (avg 34 per session) and we have had over 2,430 views across Youtube and IGTV.

    We also built a microsite of curated content for new students, covering key skills, such as maths and English, that our learners would need if they’d had a break in their studies.

    Finally, we released a series of brand new content that aims to support our students with their mental health and well-being such as - The Learn Better series podcast, a Mental Fitness webinar series and created a wellbeing hub.

    Technology

    You told us you were ‘...having issues logging into MyKaplan or when we were trying to reset our passwords’, so we initiated a project to look into the problem. We resolved a number of bugs in the system and redesigned the learner journey in MyKaplan to make login and account management more intuitive.

    You also said that you ‘...wanted to be able to use digital learning resources on a variety of devices’, so we’ve begun the process of transitioning our content development to HTML5. This format is responsive and will support learning on different types of device.

    And you told us that ‘...studying self-directed content online for a longer period of time was difficult’. So our ACA OnDemand pilot incorporated improved direction and reminders to take regular screen breaks. This has been rolled out in our new ACA product.

    Additional support

    You said that you weren’t ‘...sure what additional support was available, especially when you have an additional learning need’, so we created the Kaplan Accessibility page on our website.

    We’ve also rolled out a series of training and best practice guidance to staff to help them support anyone with learning differences. Plus this year we have the additional support provided by our new SENCo lead, Poppy Laila.

    For more info on how to access this support please visit our Disability, Access and Fair Assessment Policy page.

    Want to give us your feedback?

    If you’d like to let us know about an issue you’re having, or an improvement you would like to see, get in touch with us via Student Services and we’ll see what we can do.

  • Careers in accounting

    by Katy Thomason-Stewart | May 19, 2022

    Gaining a qualification in finance doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to be an accountant for the rest of your life. Discover more about the opportunities in the finance sector and how you can get a job you really want.

    In this episode of our Learn Better Podcast, host Stuart Pedley Smith, Head of Learning at Kaplan, discusses careers in accounting and the current job market.

    Our guest is Anthony Clarke, Business Development Manager at AAT. Anthony covers the versatility finance qualifications can give your career, the current hot jobs in the finance sector and how to approach your applications and interviews.

    Anthony also talks about how the sector has made a commitment to drive diversity and social mobility and how this has changed the way businesses are recruiting. Instead of just looking at CVs, businesses are putting more emphasis on the individuals, their skills, behaviours and the value they can add to the business.

    Firms are looking at the individual. Those skills that they bring to the business, not necessarily just from a technical perspective, but in terms of how well aligned they are and how their values are well aligned with the business they are working for.

    - Anthony Clarke, AAT

    Key topics:

    Accountancy careers and qualifications

    There are multiple levels to accounting qualifications and unlike what it may seem, the end objective doesn't have to be to qualify with one of the Level 7 Accountancy bodies. There are many job opportunities for you at each level. What you do along your journey is important, the skills you learn and the people you meet.

    There are so many different areas to branch out into in the finance sector and so studying and pursuing a career in finance allows you to keep your options open, helping you to find a role you enjoy and gain a wide range of experience along the way.

    The hot jobs in the sector

    Anthony tells how the job market is really buoyant currently with businesses struggling to recruit at a senior level. However this means businesses have reacted by inventing more in organically developing their own talent for the future, particularly through apprenticeship.

    Audit, for instance, is a very in demand area and there is a common need for companies to expand their teams as businesses are winning new clients almost daily. And with hybrid working, talent is being accessed from all over the country, opening new opportunities to people who previously may have been limited by commuting commitments.

    Diversity

    There has been a real commitment in the sector to drive diversity and social mobility, and businesses are delivering on this promise. Firms are focusing more on the individual rather than the details on their CV and looking at ways to support recruitment that isn't just from the traditional talent pool.

    Anthony comments: “Because we do have such diverse communities within the UK, it’s really important that the talent that are working in [a business’s] Audit team can really reflect, understand and empathise with the client base.”

    Important skills for getting the job

    There are many skills that can help you in your career that can all be learnt through exposure to different environments. For example, a previous job in retail or hospitality can help you to learn how to communicate well with the public.

    The key skills businesses look for in interviews and assessment centres are:

    • The ability to communicate information clearly
    • The ability to analyse information and draw conclusions
    • The ability to present analysis in a palliative way
    • The ability to use technology
    • The ability to collaborate and work as part of a team

    As well as demonstrating these skills it is important to do your research. Researching a business's mission statement and values is key to help you understand how these align to your own values and how you can in turn add value to the business.

    Interested in hearing more?

    Tune in now to listen to the full conversation (episode 13) and learn more about a career in accounting and how to put your best foot forward when applying for your next job.

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