Apprenticeships: delivering work-based training and qualifications to employees
Finances and funding for Apprenticeships
Funding for the directed (or "off-the-job") training element of Level 2, Level 3 apprenticeships and Level 4 and Level 5 Higher Level Apprenticeships is provided through the Northern Ireland European Social Fund (ESF) Programme 2014-2020 and the Department for the Economy (DfE).
An Employer Incentive Payment is also available to employers whose employees successfully complete their Level 2 and/or Level 3 Apprenticeship framework. Employers must contract apprentices to work at least 21 hours per week (to include day release for directed training) and are responsible for paying their apprentices at least the National Minimum Wage rate for apprentices.
How much does training cost?
The costs of the directed ('off-the-job') training element of the apprenticeship are funded by the ESF and DfE.
Higher level Apprenticeships
The Department for the Economy (DfE) will pay training provider costs for the 'off-the-job' training, however, the employer should pay the apprentice for the contracted hours including the day that they are training.
Employer Incentive Payments
Under the ApprenticeshipsNI programme an Employer Incentive Payment is available for employers whose apprentice successfully completes their full Level 2 or Level 3 apprenticeships framework. This incentive ranges from £558 to £1,674, depending on the complexity and level of the apprenticeship undertaken and the age of the apprentice on joining the programme. You will receive the payment upon the successful completion of your employee's apprenticeship framework.
What do I pay the apprentice?
Your apprentice will earn a wage agreed between yourself and them. It is important to remember that the National Minimum Wage (NMW) Regulations apply and that there are specific rates for apprentices and for different age groups.
The NMW is the minimum amount that workers in the UK are entitled to be paid. NMW rates are reviewed each year.
National Minimum Wage - hourly rates from 1 April 2023
- £10.42 - the National Living Wage for workers 23 years old and over
- £10.18 - the main rate for workers aged 21 to 22 years old
- £7.49 - the 18 to 20 rate
- £5.28 - the 16 to 17 rate for workers above school leaving age but under 18
- £5.28 - the apprentice rate, for apprentices under 19 or 19 and over and in the first year of their apprenticeship (this rate does not apply to Higher Level Apprenticeships)
More useful links
- Download the apprenticeships employer advice leaflet (PDF, 543K)
- Department for the Economy response to Apprentice Levy consultation
- Advertise your apprenticeship opportunities on JobApplyNI
- Higher Level Apprenticeships Training Suppliers on the nidirect website
- Find your local Jobs and Benefits Office on the nidirect website
- Apprenticeship training contractors
Apprenticeships Email Contactapprenticeships@economy-ni.gov.uk
Apprenticeships Higher Level Contacthigherlevelapprenticeships@economy-ni.gov.uk