Coronavirus: Apprenticeship Recovery Package

News article

Financial support for local businesses to help the apprenticeship system respond to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis

The Department for the Economy (DfE) has developed an Apprenticeship Recovery Package for Northern Ireland that will channel financial support to local businesses to help the apprenticeship system respond to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis. 

The Apprenticeship Recovery Package includes short term interventions which are targeted to reduce significant longer-term economic impacts. These interventions will reduce unemployment and ensure that employers continue to have access to people with the skills and qualifications needed to maintain productivity, to grow their businesses and to assist in closing the skills gap, ensuring that more people have a pathway to better paying jobs.

There are three elements to the package:

Apprenticeship Return, Retain and Result Scheme
As an employer, you may have had to furlough an apprentice under the terms of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. To help you return your apprentice(s) from furlough, and retain them until 31st March 2021 and on to successful completion of their apprenticeship, DfE will provide incentive payments to employers to support the return, retention and result for apprentices.

The total amount payable under the scheme will be a maximum of £3,700 per apprentice, distribution as follows:

  • Return - £500 per returned furloughed apprentice payable for the first full month of paid apprenticeship  from 1 November 2020
  • Retain – maximum of £2,000 available: £500 per month for up to 4 months of paid apprenticeship between 1 December 2020 and 31 March 2021
  • Result - £1,200 for successful full framework achievement of a returned furloughed apprentice

This scheme is open to employers participating on the DfE-funded ApprenticeshipsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes, who return their furloughed apprentices to work since April 2020.

Find out more about the Apprenticeship Return, Retain and Result Scheme, full eligibility terms and how to apply.

Recruitment of New Apprenticeships
This incentive is available to all employers to support the recruitment of new apprentices. As an employer, you will be eligible for up to £3,000 for each new apprenticeship opportunity created from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. This bonus will apply to all new apprenticeship opportunities and includes apprentices who have been made redundant:

  • Payment 1 - £2,000 after 90 days retention following start* of new apprenticeship
  • Payment 2 - £1,000 after 200 days retention following start* of a new paid apprenticeship

*For the purposes of this scheme the start of the paid apprenticeship refers to the date agreed with the training contractor as the date that the apprentice begins their ApprenticeshipsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeship programme or, in the case of apprentices who were made redundant and subsequently employed by another employer, the date the apprentice re-joined their programme.

This scheme is open to employers who take on an apprentice participating on the DfE-funded ApprenticeshipsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes. 

Find out more about the Recruitment of New Apprenticeships scheme, full eligibility terms and how to apply.

Apprenticeship Challenge Fund
Apprenticeships are beneficial to young people, employers and the wider economy, however, there are barriers that can stop the expansion of opportunities and participation which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

An Apprenticeship Challenge Fund is currently in development to promote greater collaboration between employers and suppliers, whilst maintaining the employers’ role at the centre of the apprenticeship system and creating room for DfE to take a more creative and innovative approach to solving problems, such as: 

  • shared Apprenticeship Models
  • Apprenticeship Brokerage Service
  • Employer Apprenticeship Mentoring Programmes to give managers the skills they need to effectively manage apprentices/apprenticeship programmes gaining maximum benefit for the employer
  • Apprentice Mentoring Programme to help new apprentices integrate into businesses
  • the removal of monetary and non-monetary barriers to recruitment; Identify monetary/non-monetary barriers

Funding will be via a grant to successful applicants following a competitive assessment process. Successful applicants will receive one-off awards of up to £50,000, although there is an option to increase for proposals with multiple partners or features.  

The Challenge Fund is now open for applications until 4pm on Friday 23 October 2020 - find out more about the fund.


First published 11 September 2020