Apprenticeships – not just greasy overalls nowadays

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Thursday, September 12th, 2013
Business, Community, Jobs & Careers
Many people have heard of apprenticeships, but still have the perception that apprentices are all young males in overalls in trades like construction or motor repair, but nothing could be further from the truth. Johnny Nolan, Careers Manager for Newry in the Department for Employment and Learning’s (DEL) Careers Service explained, “People across Northern Ireland are following apprenticeships in a wide range of occupational areas ranging from ICT, Engineering, Accounting, Business and Administration, Hairdressing, Children’s Care, Learning and Development, Nail Services, Plumbing, Bricklaying to Telecommunications.

Johnny Nolan, Careers Manager for Newry in the Department for Employment and Learning’s Careers Service

“So there is obviously more to apprenticeships than the old public perception of them. Apprenticeships are rapidly becoming a preferred way of learning for many people. “There is no doubt that apprenticeships are a winning formula, benefiting not only the individual but also employers and the economy overall. “As an apprentice on DEL’s Apprenticeships NI programme you must be employed by a Northern Ireland based company to work a minimum of 21 hours including time for ‘off-the-job’ training, or ‘day-release’ as it is more commonly known. “You work alongside experienced staff to learn the trade and achieve your Vocational Qualifications. How much you are paid is agreed between you and your employer. An apprenticeship can take up to four years to complete depending on the level you enter at. “There are over 100 occupational areas or ‘frameworks’ which set out the relevant standards/qualifications to be achieved by the apprentice. To view the full list of frameworks available visit NI. Nolan continued, “Speaking to a careers adviser can help you identify the areas of future growth in the Northern Ireland economy. Areas currently identified as ‘priority sectors’ in this regard include agrifood, advanced engineering and manufacturing, hotels and catering (in support of tourism) and ICT. “DEL has recently embarked upon a review of apprenticeships and youth training which will provide us with the opportunity to match skills to the specific needs of employers. The local economy is going through a considerable transformation and the jobs of tomorrow will require higher level skills across a wide range of occupations,” he insisted. “So, when considering your career path, remember that an apprenticeship allows you the opportunity to develop specialist skills, use new technology and gives you the chance to learn and gain qualifications that are recognised the world over.” Nolan added, “For those apprentices completing their apprenticeship, career prospects can flourish and, in many cases, are improved as a result of the experience. Research shows that people with qualifications typically earn more money than those without and may also have more job security.” For more information on apprenticeships visit For professional and impartial careers information, advice and guidance on a wide range of career options contact your local Careers office by telephoning 0300 200 7820 or go to
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