Coronavirus: Apprenticeship Return, Retain and Result Scheme

News article

The Apprenticeship Return, Retain & Result Scheme (RRR) will provide incentive payments to employers to support the return, retention and result for apprentices

Businesses that have had to furlough an apprentice under the terms of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be able to access incentive payments through the Apprenticeship Return, Retain and Result Scheme (RRR).

The scheme will help you return your apprentice(s) from furlough, and retain them until 31 March 2021 and on to successful completion of their apprenticeship.

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.

Who is Eligible?

This scheme is open to employers participating in the Department for the Economy funded ApprenticeshipsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes, who return their furloughed apprentices to work since April 2020, with payments as follows:

Return Incentive - £500 per returned apprentice

  • Payable for the first complete month of paid employment for the returned apprentice, beginning from 1 November 2020 (after the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ends) for a period of at least 4 weeks.
  • For earlier returners, continued employment for the month of November 2020, will constitute the qualifying period for the “Return” incentive. This incentive will be paid on submitted claims with appropriate evidence of furlough and employment from December 2020.

Retain Incentive – In April 2021 you will be able to apply for up to £2,000 for each apprentice you have retained

  • £500 will be available for each full month for a period of up to 4 months, from 1 December 2020 to the end of March 2021.
  • The period of retain will also adjust to reflect any in-month apprentice returners. For example, if an apprentice returned on the 12 November, the return month would be captured as 12 November to 11 December.

Result Incentive – £1,200 for successful full framework achievement of a returned furloughed apprentice

  • This incentive is payable alongside any of the other employer incentives and will be payable on submission of proof of full framework achievement of the AppsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeship (HLA).
  • The timing of this payment will depend upon when the apprenticeship is successfully completed and will be payable for all successful completions beginning from 1 November 2020.

To note: Once an apprenticeship is complete, no further retain incentive beyond the completion date can be claimed.

What evidence will I need?

It is important that you retain evidence of when:

  • your apprentice was furloughed
  • your apprentice returned and was retained, in paid employment during the period claimed, this can be up to the total period of 5 months (1 month return and up to 4 months retained) and,
  • your apprentice has continued and completed their paid apprenticeship

Further details of evidence requirements will be detailed in the application pack.

How to apply?

The Apprenticeship Return, Retain and Result Scheme is now open for applications.

Download the applicant claim form for the Apprenticeship Return, Retain and Result Scheme (PDF, 461K).

Please send completed forms or any queries you may have regarding the scheme or your application to

Please note it is the responsibility of the applicant (employer/company) to ensure that they have sought permission to supply personal details of individuals (apprentices) they are claiming for to support their claim. Download the privacy notice for apprenticeships recovery incentives (DOC, 59K)


If an employer has already taken an apprentice back from furlough can they still avail of the scheme?

Yes, however for the purposes of the scheme November 2020 will be treated as the return month. Employers can apply for the £500 return incentive once one full month of employment has been completed, for early returners, this means that employers can apply for payment from 1 December 2020. 

If an employer has made a furloughed apprentice redundant can they be re-employed to avail of the retention scheme?

Yes, if the Apprentice was furloughed, then let go, and re-employed, the employer will be eligible for this scheme – the date of 're-employment' will however impact upon the total amount they can claim.

Do employers need to meet certain criteria to be included in the scheme e.g. is there a minimum / maximum number of employees, is it open only to certain sectors?

No, the scheme is open to all employers who have an apprentice that is participating on the Department for the Economy (DfE) funded ApprenticeshipsNI (AppsNI) or Higher Level Apprenticeships (HLA) programmes and was furloughed as part of the UK Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. If you are unsure whether your apprentice is participating on either AppsNI or HLA, please contact their training provider for confirmation.

What is the eligibility for apprentices who were not furloughed as part of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme?

The scheme is designed to help employers to return furloughed apprentices only. There must be evidence available that the apprentice was furloughed to qualify.

Will employers still receive their original existing AppsNI employer incentive?

Yes, the 'Result' incentive will be payable alongside any existing AppsNI employer incentive upon successful completion of the full framework as per AppsNI Operating Requirements.

Are the incentives available to public sector employers?

No, the interventions only apply to apprentices who are participating in DfE funded AppsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeships (HLA) programmes. Public sector apprentices are not eligible for this funding. 

Do qualification outcomes have to be achieved by a certain date for employers to qualify for the result element?

No, provided that the apprentice is retained until successful completion, as per AppsNI & HLA Operating Requirements, of their apprenticeship the employer will be eligible irrespective of date.

Do the interventions also apply to Higher Level Apprenticeships?

Yes, the scheme is open to all employers who have an apprentice participating on a DfE funded AppsNI or HLA programme who was furloughed as part of the UK Government Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Is there a maximum amount that employers can claim?

No, however, payments are considered to be State Aid under EU Regulations and therefore there may be some additional requirements if payments are substantial, or if companies are in receipt of other payments considered to be State Aid.