ApprenticeshipsNI is Northern Ireland’s flagship apprenticeship programme. Available to both existing and newly recruited employees, Apprenticeships can make businesses more effective, productive and competitive by addressing skills gaps directly, and employers play a vital role in the ApprenticeshipsNI programme by ensuring quality instruction in the workplace and supporting ‘off-the-job’ training.
HOW IT WORKS
Apprentices are employed on a permanent contract to work a minimum of 21 hours alongside experienced staff, including the time spent on the ‘off-the-job’ training with a Training Supplier who is contracted with the Department for Employment and Learning to deliver training towards recognised qualifications.
The Department undertakes to pay the full costs of the ‘off-the-job’ training included in the ApprenticeshipsNI framework for the duration of the apprenticeship, which takes between two to four years to complete, depending on the level, the apprentice’s ability and the industry sector. Wages are agreed between the apprentice and the employer (however minimum wage rates do apply) and employers also work with Sector Skills Councils, Standard Setting Bodies and Industry Representative Bodies to develop the Occupational Standards which ensure that training is relevant and tailored to the needs of the sector.
And with over 100 apprenticeships to choose from, businesses in a wide range of industry sectors can benefit from the programme. In addition, specialist Support Services can be made available to apprentices requiring additional support – for example, for those with a disability or with personal, social and /or learning needs.
Employers can also receive incentive payments at the completion of each apprenticeship, with overall funding determined by the complexity and level of the apprenticeship framework followed, and incentive payments can range from £500 to £1,500.
Highlighting the business benefits of Apprenticeships, Employment and Learning Minister, Dr. Stephen Farry, said:“In what is an increasingly competitive marketplace, Apprenticeships can provide employers with a workforce which is equipped with the skill sets with which to gain advantage. Through Apprenticeships, employers are positioned to reap real business benefits through improved skills standards, increased productivity and enhanced customer service.”
Fusion Heating Ltd is one such employer to benefit from apprenticeships. Their Managing Director, Bill Cherry, said of the programme: “As a SME-business we need to be able to exploit all market sectors and our apprentices, working through the ApprenticeshipsNI programme, are a vital part of the team in this regard.”
Another business to have reaped competitive advantage from apprenticeships is Phoenix Energy Holdings. Group Chief Executive Peter Dixon said: “The ApprenticeshipsNI programme has helped us train and develop the apprentices we need for the long term success of our business. Our apprentices add to our organisation making it more effective, competent, productive and competitive by addressing our skills gaps directly.”
Helpline: 0800 0854 573 (Monday - Friday 9:00 am to 5:00 pm)
Text Freephone: 0800 3280 824 (For use by those with hearing or communication difficulties).
ApprenticeshipsNI is part financed by the Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme.