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Work-Based Learning

Work-based learning is the term that is used to refer to programmes, such as Traineeships (non-employed route) and Apprenticeships (employed route), that provide you with real-life work experiences whilst applying academic and technical skills to enhance your career opportunities.

In September 2023, The Department for the Economy announced the introduction of ‘All Age Apprenticeships’ which will provide opportunities for more people to embark on a career of their choice. This will mean the potential to create an additional 1,700 apprenticeship opportunities per year across Northern Ireland for those aged 25 and above, offering more career options for people of all ages.


Apprentices are employed as full-time members of staff and typically work for an employer three to four days a week. One or two days a week is spent at college, studying for nationally-recognised qualifications in the same profession as the apprenticeship.

  • Apprentices must find their own employer.  Check out some tips on how to find an employer below.  If you have already applied for a post with an employer or via Workplus you must also complete an online application for the appropriate course on our website and an Employer Response Form. 
  • Some employers may require GCSEs on entry.
  • It might be possible to do an apprenticeship with a current employer.
  • Apprentices work all year round, but their college classes run from September to July.
  • Employers pay for the day the apprentice is in college, meaning they receive a full-time wage in accordance with the national minimum wage.

Entry Requirements

To be eligible to enter ApprenticeshipsNI programmes, an unemployed person must:

  • Have attained the minimum school leaving age of 16. 
  • Have or be about to take up permanent paid employment with a Northern Ireland-based company and be contracted to work a minimum of 21 hours per week (including day release/ off- the-job training) with one employer.
  • Have the potential to successfully complete all the requirements of the appropriate Level 2/Level 3 Apprenticeship Framework.
  • Meet any health requirements (eg colour vision) specific to the occupation of their choice.
  • Have achieved any necessary entry academic qualifications (eg GCSE) determined by the relevant sector for the apprenticeship and approved by the Department for the Economy. Please refer to course specific content to review these including any enhanced criteria that may apply to high demand courses.
  • Pass any entry tests specified by the relevant sector/employer and approved by the Department for the Economy.
  • Attend an information session.

In addition if you are an existing employee you must be:

  • In permanent remunerative employment with a Northern Ireland-based company from day one of the apprenticeship.
  • Contracted to work a minimum of 21 hours per week (including day release/off-the-job training) with one employer; and meet all the other eligibility criteria as set out above.

All relevant paperwork should be uploaded to the admissions portal prior to being considered for an apprenticeship, this should include your:

Around 1000 apprentices train with Northern Regional College every year and we’re expanding to include a broader range of professions. Apprenticeships are a popular way to learn skills, get qualifications and kick start a career.  

Browse our Apprenticeship and Higher Level Apprenticeship programmes below:

Tips on How to Secure an Employer

Gaining an apprenticeship is one of the best career moves that you can make. You will gain valuable skills and qualifications and get paid while you are training. BUT you cannot start your apprenticeship unless you have secured a suitable full-time employer. 

To make things easier, here are a few useful tips to assist you in your quest for an apprenticeship or work placement:

  • Consider working with a suitable employer over the summer months to give you a better insight into the industry in which you are thinking of a career.
  • Remember to check that you are adequately covered by the employer’s insurance and that you have also received suitable Health and Safety training.
  • Get on the phone, email or arrange to meet with as many local companies/employers as you can. Remember to have an updated Curriculum Vitae (CV) ready to hand over, post or email to the employers.
  • Contact your local Careers Service, school careers teacher to get useful information on your chosen career as well as help in preparing your CV. There is a lot of online support to help you as well: www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/careers
  • You can contact the Department for the Economy Careers Service by phone Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm on 0300 200 7820.
  • Check for companies advertising apprenticeship opportunities, especially during summer months, in the paper or online e.g. Facebook, and on our latest vacancy page. Here is a list of useful websites to help with your search:
    www.yell.com – useful for all types of employers
    www.thomsonlocal.com – useful for all types of employers
    www.trustmark.org.uk  – useful for all trades
    www.ratedpeople.com – useful for all trades
    www.gumtree.com – useful for joiners
    www.aphc.co.uk – useful for plumbers
    www.needaplumber.org – useful for plumbers
    www.niceic.com – useful for electricians
    www.eca.co.uk – useful for electricians

Useful Resources

Document Downloads

Employer Response Form

Vision Verification Form (Electrical Installation AppNI only)

For further information please contact:
Sean McAleese, Training Manager
07554 118467

Department for the Economy logo