Employers to receive up to £3,700 for every apprentice they retain or employ

  • Employers who bring their apprentices back from furlough and retain them until they have completed their apprenticeship will be offered up to £3,700 per place.

    When the Covid-19 crisis hit, many employers were forced to furlough employees under the Job Retention Scheme to prevent them from being made redundant. Employers will be paid one-off payments for each furloughed employee they bring back and retain until January, but the status of apprenticeships has been up in the air.

    Economy Minister Diane Dodds has announced that employers who bring apprentices back from furlough will be offered up to £3,700 per apprentice if they then retain them until they complete their apprenticeship. A further £3,000 per apprentice will be given to employers creating new opportunities this year.

    The minister has secured an additional £17.2m of funding toward the apprenticeship system, and has allocated £14.3m to the new Apprenticeship Return, Retain, and Result initiative. It's expected to help up to 4,500 furloughed apprentices currently in place through ApprenticeshipsNI and various Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes.

    A total of £12.5million has been allocated for the Apprenticeship Recruitment Incentive that encourages employers to create new apprenticeship opportunities for both those who have been made redundant due to covid-19 and newcomers. It will offer employers £3,000 for each new apprenticeship created between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2021.

    A new Apprenticeship Challenge Fund will also be launching in late September to provide one-off awards of up to £50,000 to companies to "support innovative approaches and new collaborations to increase apprenticeship opportunities in Northern Ireland."

    Professor Terri Scott gave a statement on behalf of the Further Education Colleges Principals’ Group in response to the announcements:

    "The Principals of the Further Education Colleges welcome the announcement by the Economy Minister of the interventions that will be crucial in securing a skills pipeline and in safeguarding the significant role apprenticeships play in the Northern Ireland Economy. We know that having a skilled workforce is necessary in driving forward economic recovery and we are confident that the new financial support announced by the Minister will benefit employers and those seeking to start or re-engage in apprenticeships.

    "Over the past number of weeks, we have been engaging with anxious employers who despite being committed to apprenticeships, were concerned about having the funds to support the much needed investment in skills. This announcement along with the endorsement of the vital role apprenticeships play, will give employers confidence to plan for the future by retaining current apprentices and recruiting new starts.

    "We would encourage all employers to get in contact with their local FE College today to find out more about the wide range of rewarding opportunities on offer through Higher Level Apprenticeships and the ApprenticeshipsNI programme. All colleges are working closely with employers to assist them in recruiting new apprentices while also ensuring that those who have been furloughed have the opportunity to complete their training and qualifications."

    Source: Written based on press releases

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    Brendan is a Sync NI writer with a special interest in the gaming sector, programming, emerging technology, and physics. To connect with Brendan, feel free to send him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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