Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

3,000 now signed up for apprentice scheme

Almost 3,000 young people have enrolled in a new apprenticeship programme since the beginning of September, the Employment Minister announced today.

Sir Reg Empey told the Northern Ireland Assembly that 2,763 school-leavers have enlisted in the Government scheme so far.

The programme was introduced by the minister after a fall in the number of employers willing to take on apprentices in the current economic climate.

The college-based apprentices spend more time with the training organisation but still have the opportunity of a work placement one day per week or a six-week block.

The cost of the programme is expected to be £6.3m a year for 3,000 apprentices.

Sir Reg said: “The young school leavers will train to the same standard, following the exact same framework as employed apprentices.

“This means that should they get employment at any stage during their training then they will seamlessly transfer to the other programme.”

The number of people claiming unemployment increased by 1,100 last month, raising the total number looking for work to 53,800.

A large percentage of the growing number of local people on the dole are in the 16-24 age bracket, raising fears about the long term impact of the recession on the province’s workforce.