An apprenticeship is a job, with training. You are employed and paid an initially lower wage to perform a particular role, with an understanding that you will be trained through experience and qualifications to perform the role to a defined standard. Your employer will give you tasks to perform, and the training provider will give you the skills to perform those tasks.

As an apprentice you will be a new or existing employee, in a Northern Ireland-based company, working with experienced staff to learn and develop your skills.

An apprentice also receives ‘off-the-job’ training, usually on a day-release basis with a training provider, to work towards achieving vocational qualifications and Essential Skills qualifications (reading, writing, maths and computers).

Your training provider will meet with you and your employer to discuss your training needs and will then develop a training programme for you. They will be with you every step of the way throughout your apprenticeship to support you and make sure you are making progress.

Usually you are with the employer four days a week and with the training provider one day a week. Your employer will pay you for your time spent with the training provider.

Find out who delivers apprenticeship training in your area.

Who apprenticeships are for

To take part in the Apprenticeships programme you need to:

  • have reached the minimum school leaving age in Northern Ireland (16 years)
  • be employed or be about to take up paid employment in Northern Ireland
  • be working a minimum of 21 hours per week on a permanent contract
  • meet all the entry requirements of your chosen apprenticeship (for example some apprenticeships will require you to have GCSEs)
  • meet a number of eligibility considerations, for example if you are a non-EU national or a public sector employee, or if you have previously achieved a recognised vocational qualification

If you are 25 years and over, there are restrictions on the type of apprenticeship with funding available.

The benefits of an apprenticeship

There are many benefits for you and your employer when you take part in an apprenticeship:

  • you earn while you learn
  • you work alongside experienced staff
  • you receive off-the-job training specific to your apprenticeship
  • you gain qualifications

How much you get paid

Your employer will pay you just as they would any other employee. The National Minimum Wage (NMW) is a minimum amount that workers in the UK are entitled to be paid.

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