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Jobseeker scheme highlights benefits to employers

The benefits of offering apprenticeships to jobseekers are being highlighted by a new Government initiative.

Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry yesterday launched his department's employer-focused Apprenticeships NI advertising campaign.

The drive aims to highlight the vital contribution made by employers in providing employment opportunities to apprentices and raising awareness of the benefits of the Apprenticeship NI programme to employers.

The campaign follows last year's successful Belfast Telegraph campaign, 100 jobs in 100 days, in which companies big and small were urged to take on apprentices. The target of 100 jobs was surpassed, with 26 firms - from Northern Ireland's biggest company Moy Park to sole traders -pledging to take on a total of 108 apprentices.

DEL's Apprenticeships NI offers apprenticeship training to 16-year-olds and over across a wide range of industry sectors and occupations, providing recognised training and qualifications to new and existing employees.

The campaign will feature television and press ads as well as outdoor and online advertising.

The minister said there were over 11,000 apprentices employed across many industry sectors and occupations throughout Northern Ireland.

"These employers understand the benefits that apprentices bring to their business with increased productivity, improved competitiveness and a committed and competent workforce."

He added that they also help organisations develop the specialist skills required to keep pace with the latest technology.

"We need to get the message out to all our employers that apprenticeships can help businesses across all sectors by offering a route to harness fresh new talent or indeed train an existing employee," he said.

Paul Hamill, head of human resources at technology company Kainos, said the apprenticeship programme had helped the company train and develop employees it requires for the long-term success of its business.

"Our apprentices add to our organisation making it more effective, competent and competitive by addressing our skills gaps directly," he said.