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Belfast Met partners for Apprenticeship Mentoring Project

L W H Main

Published: 24 March 2021

The six colleges of Further and Higher Education in Northern Ireland are working in partnership on a collaborative Apprenticeship Development Project, funded through the Department for Economy’s Apprenticeship Challenge Fund, which supports new and innovative approaches to the development, recruitment and delivery of apprenticeships. 

The Challenge Fund is part of the Department for the Economy’s Apprenticeship Recovery Package for Northern Ireland which channels financial support to help the apprenticeship system respond to the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

Louise Warde Hunter, Principal and Chief Executive at Belfast Met, confirmed: “At Belfast Met we have a deep commitment to skills and apprenticeships. We are fully aware of the critical role that skills will have in the economic recovery, and apprenticeships will be a central component of the recovery. The Apprenticeship Development Project, funded through the Department for Economy’s Apprenticeship Challenge Fund, provides an innovative and collaborative project across the sector, with extensive expertise in teaching, training and engagement with employers across the regional partners.”

Aidan Sloane, Head of Training, Skills and Apprenticeships at Belfast Metropolitan College, a partner for the Apprenticeship Development Project, explained: “We will be collaborating across the sector to develop and implement a range of innovative initiatives to support new approaches to the development, recruitment and delivery of apprenticeships. A key aim for this project is to provide employers with an improved understanding of the structure of apprenticeships, including an understanding of the benefits for employers and apprentices, and an increase in participation of apprenticeships across the region.

Aidan added: “The project will develop an employer mentoring programme to equip the managers of apprentices in industry with the skills they need to effectively support and develop apprentices and apprenticeship programmes across a broad curriculum. An online module will certify employers as a trained apprentice mentor. The resources produced will also help employers to better understand the structure of Apprenticeship NI and Higher-Level Apprenticeship programmes, with the strategic objective of increasing participation.”

This project seeks to address barriers to participation in the apprenticeship system via a range of initiatives, including improved employer engagement across a diverse range of industries, as well as the development of a mentoring programme to support both employers and apprentices which will support the regional apprenticeship ecosystem.

Mark Dorman, Employer Engagement Manager at Belfast Metropolitan College, confirmed: “The workplace can be a daunting place for new apprentices and the project will improve their experience of engaging in the workplace, as well as developing their career. They can be confident that someone is fully equipped to support them in the workplace and throughout their apprenticeship journey. The overall objective is to ensure that apprentices feel valued, are fully supported, and stay on track to achieve their qualifications.”

The Apprenticeship Challenge Fund Project will support the development of an effective skills pipeline to support the needs of both employers and our economy whilst also providing valuable employment for our young people. It will also support innovative approaches and new collaborations to increase apprenticeship opportunities in Northern Ireland.

Find out more about apprenticeship business solutions at Belfast Met

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