The Belfast Telegraph are to be congratulated on the excellent initiative to promote apprenticeships in Northern Ireland through their ‘100 jobs in 100 days’ campaign.
It has created a platform for businesses – from all parts of the economy – to highlight the value of apprentices.
Yet the reality is that Northern Ireland does not have a great record when it comes to local businesses taking on apprentices.
This is difficult to understand – especially when you look at the benefits that an apprentice can bring in terms of addressing skills shortages by getting quality training that is designed to meet the needs of the employer which is subsidised by the Department for Employment and Learning.
DEL covers 100% of off-the-job training costs for under 24s and 50% for over 25s and there is an incentive bonus of £250 to £1,500 paid to the employer at the completion of the apprenticeship.
All that is need is for the apprentice to be employed on a permanent contract for 21 hours a week – and it could be either a new recruit or an existing employee – and a commitment to training.
But research has shown that the benefits are far wider for the employer and the economy as a whole.
An employer taking on an apprentice will enhance staff motivation and loyalty and improve the skills of their workforce which will make an impact on productivity and, most importantly, on the bottom line.
There is no better time than now to look at an apprenticeship. University fees are skyrocketing and many young people are looking at alternatives to university – and the modern apprenticeship could be an increasingly attractive option, particularly as we develop more higher level advanced apprenticeships in areas such as ICT and engineering.
The apprenticeship system is a key part in the development of a world-class workforce of some of Northern Ireland’s top businesses such as Bombardier, who recently secured a huge £1 billion order that will secure jobs into the future.
But apprenticeships are not just for the manufacturing heavyweights.
The Belfast Telegraph campaign has highlighted the diversity of businesses who are benefiting from taking on an apprentice – from the local butcher to small indigenous IT companies and big international firms.
Northern Ireland’s six regional Colleges are the biggest and best providers of training and apprenticeships. Local and international businesses are working in partnership with all of the colleges to make sure that they get the apprentice and the training that they need.
Our local colleges can support any company that is looking at whether an apprenticeship is right for them and help with recruitment and then putting in place a tailored training solution and ongoing support.It really is as straightforward as that – get down to your local college and see how they can help either with the bottom-line of your business or open up exciting new career opportunities.
Colleges NI have launched a campaign to support the Belfast Telegraph ‘100 jobs in 100 days’ campaign called ‘Make it Work’ to find out more www.collegesni.ac.uk.