11/02/2013

NI Apprenticeship Review Launched

Employment Minister Dr Stephen Farry has announced a review of apprenticeships and training in Northern Ireland.

The review will aim to assist economic growth by providing employers with a skilled workforce and ensuring young people are provided with opportunities to gain long-term employment.

Following a statement to the Assembly, the Minister said: "Existing apprenticeship and youth training schemes have served Northern Ireland businesses well, but the types of economic activity in which they engage and the goods and services they produce are changing rapidly. There is a clear need to invest in higher level skills across a broad front to meet these changing needs.

"This review will ensure that the training opportunities on offer closely match the needs of the economy and equip our young people with economically relevant skills and qualifications. I want to put employers in the driving seat of our future apprenticeship programme, ensuring that the skills of our workforce fit with employer needs.

"We also need flexible and appropriate provision to be available for all of our young people, regardless of their starting point.

"While we already have a strong apprenticeship offering, apprenticeships have lost some of the status they previously held with other pathways of education and training held in greater esteem. Therefore I want to establish a system of apprenticeships that offers a pathway that is regarded as equal to or even better than academic routes. At the same time, I want the review to consider how young people can progress into higher education from a non-traditional pathway if they so wish."

But the Minister noted: "Not all of our young people will be ready to take on an apprenticeship. Some will need a small amount of additional training to prepare for the challenges of the future apprenticeships; others will require an extended package of training and work experience. There are also young people who are further removed from the labour market whose journey towards employment will take longer. The review of youth training opportunities will ensure that the training available for young people is sufficiently broad and flexible to enable them to fulfil their potential."

(IT)

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