Belfast Telegraph

National Society of Apprentices in Northern Ireland gives voice to students

By Margaret Canning

Issues facing Northern Irelands' apprentices - such as rates of pay and hidden costs like equipment - are to be addressed by a new student body.

Students' union NUS-USI said it had set up the National Society of Apprentices in Northern Ireland to give a voice to apprentices, many of whom are also students at further education colleges.

Apprentice Paul McGahon said the organisation would "voice the reality of what being an apprentice is like to decision makers".

"It's vital that we have an organisation that can let others know what it's like being an apprentice, to help try and address any potential problems facing apprentices."

The Department for Employment and Learning has worked to reform apprenticeships structure in Northern Ireland as the province has a lower rate of apprenticeship take-up than other parts of the UK.

President of NUS-USI Rebecca Hall said: "The National Society of Apprentices here will be an autonomous organisation which will work to ensure that the concerns of apprentices can be addressed."

Budget-tightening had also increased the need for the organisation.

"This is a momentous initiative and it is extremely important that apprentices' voices are heard, given that a cut of 10.8% has been proposed for the Department for Employment and Learning in the draft budget."

Belfast Telegraph