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Northern Ireland’s Further Education Colleges announce details of up to 2,000 new NI Traineeship places, across 27 professions

23 August 2023
Group of people holding a sign promoting traineeships

Ahead of the publication of GCSE results tomorrow, Northern Ireland’s six Further Education Colleges have announced details of up to 2,000 new NI Traineeship places now available for both school leavers and adults.

Available across 27 professions, the novel NI Traineeships enable school-leavers and adults to gain a qualification equivalent to five GCSEs (Level 2), while also gaining valuable work experience in the sector they are interested in.

Applications are now open across all six FE Colleges for September ‘23 entry, with further details of what’s on offer at each College available online by searching ‘Traineeships’ on the NI Direct website.

The NI Traineeships are supported by the Department for the Economy, in line with its 10X Economic Vision and associated Skills Strategy, to offer a further accessible route to further study and employment, including apprenticeships.

A Traineeship typically takes up to two years to complete on a full-time basis. Students can then progress to Level 3 FE courses or Apprenticeships, both of which offer progression to Higher Education including degrees and Higher-Level Apprenticeships.

Available across 27 professions
Among the 27 professions covered by the NI Traineeships are engineering, auto electrics, joinery, animal care, professional chef, hospitality and tourism, travel and tourism, and childcare and early years.

Real-world challenges
Developed alongside industry, the NI Traineeships include project-based learning and skills training. The Traineeship package offers students a more dynamic and relevant vocational programme of learning than traditional academic pathways.

While undertaking their Traineeship, students will explore real-world challenges developed by local employers and complete a period of structured work-related learning with an employer. Students will also have the opportunity to achieve additional qualifications deemed necessary for work within their chosen sector, as well as skills valued by employers including problem-solving, teamwork, time management, and entrepreneurship.

Speaking about the opportunities provided by the NI Traineeships, Leo Murphy, Chair of the College Principals’ Group and Principal and Chief Executive of North West Regional College (NWRC), said: “These NI Traineeships offer young people and adults a fantastic chance to begin a new and exciting chapter in their lives. If you are a school leaver, are unemployed, or currently have a desire to work in a certain sector, then I urge you to find out more about the NI Traineeships now on offer in your local Further Education College.

“Utilising the world-class facilities available in our FE Colleges, these NI Traineeships provide our students with accessible, really enjoyable, high-quality vocational education and training, and working relationships with leading employers that often lead to fulfilling careers.

“These Traineeships also highlight the value employers now place on the use of Traineeship as a route to Apprenticeships, with many hundreds of young people progressing to employment in key sectors. The exciting work-based training options highlight the vital role FE plays in the creation of a vibrant Northern Ireland economy.”

Sean Quinn from NWRC was one of the first students to undertake a NI Traineeship. Encouraging others to explore the opportunities they offer, Sean said: “I would definitely say take a look at the NI Traineeships that are on offer through your nearest college. I got introduced to GB engineering through my Traineeship. They’ve been really supportive, and I have now progressed to an apprenticeship with them. I am developing so many new skills, and I know I’ve so many more options for my future because of my NI Traineeship.”

Speaking as a Workshop Manager, Paul Meenan, from GB Engineering, added: “NI Traineeships offer us the flexibility to teach trainees the job-specific skills we need for our industry. It also gives us the opportunity to nurture our next generation of people and to develop a loyal and talented workforce. Our existing staff also get to develop their coaching and mentoring skills, and all of us take tremendous pleasure in seeing our trainees grow in confidence and ability.

Clement Athanasiou, Director of Apprenticeships, Careers and Vocational Education at the Department for the Economy, added: “Developing the local skills base is a key priority for the Department. Our 10X Economic Vision and associated Skills Strategy sets out how we want to equip people with the skills they need for the constantly evolving jobs market. Traineeships have a vital role to play in making this a reality.

“The opportunity provided by a Traineeship for those who are not in employment to gain Level 2 qualifications can unlock their chosen career path, or set them up to progress to higher levels of education, such as through an Apprenticeship. Participants on a Traineeship will also learn valuable skills for employment by taking part in work-based learning which is a great way to develop the wider transversal skills that are so important in the world of work. This is a fantastic and accessible new route to learning and I would encourage all those interested and eligible to look at the wide range of training options available through their local FE college.”

Participants of the NI Traineeships may be eligible for financial support through Education Maintenance Allowance or FE Grants. Hardship funds, free school meals, equipment, and travel passes may also be available. Further information is available online at NI Direct.

Group of people holding a sign promoting traineeships
Group of people holding a sign on traineeships
Group of people holding a sign on traineeships.
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