Farry outlines blueprint for future Apprenticeships

Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry today outlined a blueprint for the future of apprenticeships in Northern Ireland. 

Addressing the Assembly during an oral statement, the Minister detailed 32 proposals contained within his Department’s Review of Apprenticeships Interim Report and officially launched a 12 week consultation on the future of apprenticeship training and provision in Northern Ireland.

The Minister said: “This review of apprenticeships has the potential to radically reform and improve the training and skills landscape in Northern Ireland for learners and employers, and is a top priority for my Department. It is my job to ensure that we have a pipeline of appropriately skilled people, so that our economy can operate at maximum efficiency. 
“Whilst the current apprenticeship model has served us well, it is limited in a number of ways and needs to be transformed. The proposed new apprenticeship system for Northern Ireland will deliver highly skilled apprentices in areas of economic importance, for the jobs of today and tomorrow. Apprenticeships will be highly sought after by young people and employers, and recognised as a key route into many professional and technical occupations.” 
Key proposals contained within the consultation include:
· An apprenticeship will commence at professional and technical level 3 (equivalent to A Level) or higher and will last for a minimum duration of two years.
· Apprenticeships will be possible at any level through to Level 8 (equivalent to Doctoral Degrees).
· An apprenticeship will involve a breadth of training beyond the specific needs of a particular job through on and off the job training. Employers and industry specialists, in partnership with other key stakeholders, will inform the content, duration and assessment of each apprenticeship, including test(s) at the end of the training period.
· A range of incentives will be considered to support employers, particularly SMEs and micro businesses, to increase participation in apprenticeships.
· A central support service will be introduced to promote and support apprenticeship provision, by engaging with employers and potential participants providing advice and guidance for employers and potential apprentices on the range of support and training available.
· An apprenticeship will be designed to enable individuals to progress into higher professional or technical training or onto a higher academic pathway including to higher level apprenticeships and to further and higher education. They will include opportunities for international placements and exchanges to support the apprentice’s professional and personal development.
· Application for apprenticeship places will be supported via a UCAS (as used for entrance to university) style portal, to inform young people of the range of opportunities available.
· Apprenticeships will be expanded to include professional and technical occupations within the public sector.
· Apprenticeship awards and qualifications will facilitate portability within a sector and mobility within the wider economy. 
The Minister continued: “Most fundamental of all the proposals is the key role employers will play in the future apprenticeship model. They will be placed in the driving seat to inform future demand and content in partnership with other important stakeholders. 
“The proposals will ensure that apprenticeships will be held in equally high esteem as the higher education pathway. In essence, quality, breadth, progression and portability will form the blue print of Northern Ireland’s apprenticeships of the future, delivering skills excellence, recognised both nationally and internationally as the gold standard, with apprentices commanding commensurate salaries upon successful completion."
The Minister concluded: “I call on employers, educational institutions, learners and key stakeholders to provide their feedback during this consultation period. Feedback received through this process will be used to inform our final policy for apprenticeships, which will be published in early summer of 2014.”
A copy of the DEL Review of Apprenticeships Interim Report and Consultation Document is available on The consultation period will close on 7 April 2014.
Notes to editors: 
1. A copy of the Ministers oral statement is available at
2. See photos from the Department for Employment and Learning in our collection at
3. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department for Employment and Learning Communications Branch on 028 9025 7466. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
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