Take on an apprentice in Northern Ireland

Information about funding, eligibility and frameworks for taking on an apprentice in Northern Ireland.

Taking on an apprentice 

An apprenticeship is an accredited programme of working and learning and is used to provide skills to a new generation of workers.

The apprentice undertakes a combination of on-the-job training with an employer and off-the-job training with a college/training provider.

The first step is to identify what job you wish the apprentice to do. This will determine what apprenticeship qualifications they will work towards.

The next step is to identify a college or training provider to deliver the apprenticeship. They will check that the apprentice will be working in a safe environment and may help the employer to recruit. 

Once the apprentice starts, they will traditionally attend college one or two days a month, but we are working with our college partners in Northern Ireland to develop a model which is flexible and responsive to the needs of creative businesses.

Periodically the college will visit the workplace to assess the apprentice. This will go towards the apprentice achieving their qualification, and therefore their apprenticeship framework.

Who can take part in an apprenticeship? 

Any person can take part in an apprenticeship as long as they haven’t previously achieved a qualification that is level 4 and above (level 3 is the same level of study as A Level).

The apprenticeship must be linked to industry-developed qualifications that form an apprenticeship framework.

What Creative Apprenticeships are available in Northern Ireland?

The following apprenticeships are available at Level 3. 

Costs and funding information

In Northern Ireland, the cost of the off-the-job training element is funded by the government  through the Department for the Economy. There are some rules around this funding:

  • The apprentice must be employed and paid at least the National Apprenticeship Minimum Wage. We always encourage employers to pay more or to increase the salary as their apprentice’s skills increase.
  • They should work for a minimum of 21 hours a week. An apprentice must be employed for a minimum of two years.
  • To undertake a Level 3 apprenticeship, the apprentice must have their GCSEs in English and Maths grade A-C. Typically the apprentice is not qualified above A – Level and those with a degree are ineligible.  However, in some circumstances, the Department for the Economy will fund an apprentice if their previous qualification is from an unrelated sector.
  • The key financial support for taking on apprentices in our sector in Northern Ireland is the Northern Ireland Creative Employment Programme. You can apply for up to £5,000 as a contribution to their wages.

How Creative & Cultural Skills can help

We offer financial contributions in Northern Ireland through the Northern Ireland Creative Employment Programme (NI CEP) and offer technical expertise in the identification of the relevant framework and training provider to deliver that framework.

Apprenticeships can be advertised for free on our careers website Creative Choices.

Take on an apprentice

If you are thinking of employing a young person, take a look at our step-by-step guide for taking on an apprentice.


Get in touch to find out more.