Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

We’re right behind you

Day 56: First Ministers give their backing to our apprenticeship scheme

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness

The First Minister and deputy First Minister have welcomed the Belfast Telegraph’s 100 jobs in 100 days campaign and said that it could “help drive business forward”.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness said our campaign reflected the aims of the Executive’s Programme for Government.

The initiative aims to encourage companies to take on apprenticeships by reminding them of the business benefits of doing so — and of the opportunities an apprenticeship can provide to young people.

The campaign has now passed the halfway point with 19 companies pledging to create 86 new apprenticeships.

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness said: “In the context of our Programme for Government and its objectives on employment and training, we are pleased that the Belfast Telegraph is promoting apprenticeships through its campaign.

“An apprenticeship offers a professional gateway to full-time employment and the opportunity to build a lifelong career.”

The pair said that well-structured training would help build “a truly skilled workforce that will improve productivity, raise skills’ standards and improve the quality of customer service”.

“Everyone reaps the benefits — employees, companies, and ultimately the wider economy.”

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness said the PfG contained commitments on jobs and training.

“We have pledged to support the promotion of more than 25,000 new jobs alongside the provision of skills and training for our young people.

“These objectives are supported by the commitment to achieving £1bn of investment in the local economy, including £375m from foreign direct investment, £400m to local business through Invest NI support and an injection of £225m to the Jobs Fund.”

They said regenerating the economy depended on the public and private sector working together, adding: “It is encouraging to see such a wide range of companies involved in initiatives such as this.

“It is a strategy that will help to drive business forward and aid the growth of the local economy in these challenging times.”

The campaign has also won the support of Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Speaking earlier this month, Mr Cameron said: “This campaign will help employers in Northern Ireland develop the enthusiastic, talented and loyal employees they require, as well as helping budding apprentices to gain the skills to boost their future careers.”

Meanwhile, electrical contractor JD McGeown — based on the Lisburn Road in Belfast — has confirmed that it has created two new apprenticeships as part of the 100 jobs in 100 days campaign.

How initiative works

Apprenticeships usually take between two and four years, depending on the complexity and the number of qualifications required. It also depends on whether you are offering a Level 2 or a Level 3 apprenticeship. Wages are agreed between the apprentice and employer, but the minimum wage applies. Employer incentive payments are available of between £250 and £1,500 on completion and come from the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) but are paid through the training supplier. An employer will be told about the potential incentive when they sign up to a programme. For under-25s, DEL undertakes to pay full costs of ‘off-the-job’ training included in the ApprenticeshipsNI framework and contributes 50% for 25s and over.

Join the campaign

If you are a business owner or chief executive interested in bolstering our young people's life choices by creating an apprenticeship, please email BTapprentices@gmail.com and we will let readers know of your interest. You should also find out about the Government Act for a minimum of 21 hours per week. The apprenticeship can be created for an existing member of staff to give them more training. You will have to come up with a personal learning plan. If you’re looking for an apprenticeship, positions are usually advertised in the same way as other vacancies, so you apply like any other job. Your local training supplier can also advise. Training suppliers are listed on the website www.nidirect.gov. uk/apprenticeshipsni.

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