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Paid Apprenticeships Are Way Forward For Young People

Session: 2009/2010

Date: 08 June 2010

Reference: E&L05/09/10

High quality apprenticeships are the future for professional and technical training in Northern Ireland. That’s the view of the Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for Employment and Learning as they called on the Minister for Employment and Learning to work more closely with employers and training organisations.

The debate looked at the way the Department for Employment and Learning had responded to the recent scarcity of employer paid apprenticeships by introducing a government supported scheme.

Chairperson Dolores Kelly, who opened the debate in the Assembly, said: “We believe that employer led or paid apprenticeships are the preferred way forward for our young people. We also realise that, given the economic downturn and the difficulties in finding such paid apprenticeship, it was important to put into place some emergency scheme.

“We believe that the scheme implemented by the Department, the Programme Led Apprenticeship programme, which provided employers with apprentices paid for by the Government, gave rise to a number of problems. First and foremost, the Department implemented the plan without talking to stakeholders to ensure that it provided the appropriate opportunities for both apprentices and employers.

“A second issue, and one that my Committee takes very seriously, was the possibility of a ‘free’ apprentice might be an attractive option to an unscrupulous employer who might displace a paid apprentice.

“Earlier this year, in response to concerns expressed by both employers and training providers, my Committee hosted a round table discussion which included all interested groups, including the Department.

“I am pleased that, following this initiative, the Department has begun to use this forum approach to remodel its apprenticeship scheme.

“We believe there is considerable scope to create a new, more flexible and appropriate scheme for this September and call on the Department and Minister to work with us, and other stakeholders to achieve a positive outcome.”


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