Apprenticeships: delivering work-based training and qualifications to employees

Apprenticeships explained for employers

Apprenticeships - time to re-energise your business | Provided by the Department for the Economy

ApprenticeshipsNI is a work-based programme designed around the needs of employers that offers recognised training and qualifications to new and existing employees taking on new roles that require lots of training and development. The programme offers a wide range of apprenticeships at Level 2 and Level 3.

Opportunities are also available through Higher Level Apprenticeships for new employees or existing employees in a new job role wishing to gain qualifications from Level 4 to Level 7.

Who is eligible to take part in Apprenticeships?

Apprenticeships are open to new employees or existing employees taking on a new role within a Northern Ireland-based company.

Your apprentice needs to:

  • be the minimum school leaving age in Northern Ireland
  • be about to take up permanent paid employment as an apprentice with a Northern Ireland-based company, or be an existing employee in a Northern Ireland-based company who is about to undertake a new role that requires significant training and development
  • employed by national companies that have operations in Northern Ireland who are employed at least 50 per cent of their time in Northern Ireland and completing their directed training in Northern Ireland with an approved training contractor
  • be permanently contracted to work a minimum of 21 hours per week (which includes time for 'off-the-job' training)
  • meet the entry requirements of their chosen occupation; some apprenticeships require, for example, General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs)

Your Higher Level Apprentice needs to, as a minimum:

  • be employed or be about to take up permanent paid employment as an apprentice, or be an existing employee moving to a new job role, with a Northern Ireland-based company
  • work a minimum of 21 hours per week (which includes time for ‘off-the-job’ training)
  • have achieved all necessary entry qualifications determined by the relevant sector
  • pass any entry tests specified by the relevant sector
  • be the minimum school leaving age in Northern Ireland

Third-country nationals, including European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Swiss nationals, are eligible to undertake a Higher Level Apprenticeship/Level 2 or 3 Apprenticeship if they already have a right to live and work in the UK.

Legal responsibility for establishing that the apprentice has a right to live and work in the UK rests with the employer. See further guidance on working in Northern Ireland.

Apprenticeship training

An apprenticeship is a work-based training programme, most of the training is 'on-the-job' with you as the employer. This is usually four days a week. The rest is provided 'off-the-job', one day a week.

All of the Level 2 and Level 3 apprenticeship qualifications are set out in a framework and are available at Levels 2 and 3. They have been developed in liaison with industry representatives and are therefore tailored to ensure they meet the needs of your industry. Further information is available at:

What is a training contractor/provider?

A number of training contractors including the six local further education colleges and College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) based across Northern Ireland have been contracted to deliver training in a variety of apprenticeships at Level 2 and Level 3. There are over 150 Level 2 or Level 3 apprenticeship frameworks to choose from.

Higher Level Apprenticeships are delivered through the six local further education colleges, the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE), and the three local universities. There are over 70 Higher Level Apprenticeships programmes available.

A training contractor/provider will help your apprentice achieve the qualifications and teach them the knowledge and skills to complement what they learn from you.

The training contractor/provider will meet with you and your apprentice to discuss their training needs and will then develop a training programme with them. They will be with your apprentice every step of the way throughout the apprenticeship to support them and ensure that are making progress.

The following links provide a tool to search for training contractors for Level 2 and Level 3 ApprenticeshipsNI frameworks, and a list of Higher Level Apprenticeships training providers including contact details and training offered in your area.

What if your apprentice needs additional support?

As the apprentices are in employment when they start on the programme the Disability Discrimination Act applies making it illegal for employers to subject disabled job seekers and employees to disability discrimination. This includes failing to comply with the important duty to make reasonable adjustments and subjecting disabled people to disability-related harassment.

There are programmes available through the Department for Communities to support people into and to sustain work and these can be put in place for any eligible apprentice. See work schemes and programmes for people with disabilities

If additional support is needed for your apprentice during their time on directed training, for example, if they have a disability, your training contractor/provider will organise this for you with specially trained support providers. They will work closely together on behalf of your apprentice so that he or she can benefit fully from the training programme.

Organisation Point Of Contact Address Contact Details
Disability Action Karen Smith / Siobhan Winston Portside Business Park
189 Airport Road
Tel. 028 9029 7874
Mob. 079 5160 1813
Ulster Supported Employment Ltd. (USEL) Phil McFall

182-188 Cambrai Street
BT13 3JH

Tel. 028 9035 6600
Fax. 028 9035 6611
Mob. 077 3934 8817

Clanrye Group Ltd Jim O'Hare Slieve Gullion
Forest Park
89 Dromintee Road
BT35 8SW
Tel. 028 3089 8119
Mob. 078 6674 6423

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