Coronavirus: New Apprenticeship Incentive Scheme

News article

The New Apprenticeship Incentive Scheme is available to all employers to support the recruitment of new apprentices

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 2022.

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

Who is eligible?

This scheme is open to employers who take on an apprentice participating in the Department for the Economy funded ApprenticeshipsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes.

As part of the application process, checks will be made to ensure that apprentices on similar pathways have not been displaced to support recruitment if this is found to be the case eligibility may be impacted.

To note – programme eligibility excludes public sector employees.

How do I apply?

The New Apprenticeship Incentive Scheme is now open for applications. Download the applicant claim form for the New Apprenticeship Incentive Scheme (PDF, 459K).

Please send completed forms  and all requested evidence, 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).

First published 16 October 2020


If an apprentice was recruited after 1 April 2020, furloughed and then returned to employment will the employer qualify for support via both the New Apprenticeship Incentive Scheme and the Return Retain Result Scheme?

No, if an apprentice has been furloughed the employer will only qualify for the Return Retain Result Scheme.

If an employer has made an apprentice redundant can they avail of the New Apprenticeship Incentive Scheme to re-employ that same redundant apprentice?

If an employer made an apprentice, who was not furloughed, redundant ahead of the announcement of the scheme on 4 September 2020 the employer will qualify for the recruitment incentive, if that apprentice is re-employed before the 31 March 2022. If an apprentice has been made redundant after the 4 September 2020 only a new employer would qualify.

Is the New Apprenticeship Incentive Scheme only for new staff or can existing staff members enrol e.g. an existing employee who the employer wants to start on an apprenticeship programme?

The scheme is open to all new participants of DfE funded ApprenticeshipsNI or Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes. Apprenticeships are open to existing employees however to qualify the existing employee must be starting a new job role that requires a substantial amount of learning and skills development which must be fully detailed. 

If the employment start date was before 1 April 2020 but the employee has not yet joined their ApprenticeshipsNI or HLA funded apprenticeship training will the employer be eligible to avail of this scheme, if the employee now starts an Apprenticeship?

Yes, provided the employee meets the programme eligibility requirements for existing employees and begins their ApprenticeshipsNI or HLA funded apprenticeship between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2022.

What is stopping employers from making current apprentices redundant and hiring new apprentices to avail of support?

Employers may not qualify for incentives for new apprentices if they have made an apprentice on a similar pathway redundant since 1 April 2020. The Department will consider such examples on a case by case basis.

If a newly recruited apprentice is subsequently placed on furlough or flexi furlough during the 90 day or 200 day periods, can employers still apply for support?

Any periods of furlough of flexi furlough will extend the qualifying date e.g. if apprentice will have been in training for 90 days on 9 April but there was 7 days of furlough or flexi furlough (in total) during this period, the employer would be eligible to submit their 90 days claim on 16 April. Please provide all relevant furlough dates when submitting your application.

First published 11 September 2020