Work+

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FAQs

Frequently asked Questions

We’ve tried to cover all the bases but if you need further information, please don’t hesitate to contact us via our chat function.

Clear all

a) Why apply for an apprenticeship?

Working and learning at the same time makes sense. Reading textbooks of information isn’t the best way for most people to learn. Putting our learning into practice helps us grow and develop. Apprentices are earning a good salary and gaining a qualification at the same time, without the student debt.

b) How does an apprenticeship work?

To be an apprentice, you must have:

  • a job position (on–the–job learning); and
  • a place on the training provider’s course (off–the–job learning).

You can apply for the apprenticeship job through Workplus (during the Workplus application campaigns – see website for dates and deadlines) and you must also apply separately to the specific training course, usually through the training provider’s own website. We recommend doing both of these applications in parallel (i.e. around January/February time). It is the applicant’s responsibility to apply to and get a place on the training course.

c) What do apprentices get paid?

Based on previous campaigns, here is a rough guide of what employers might choose to pay their apprentices:

  • Level 2, £13,000
  • Level 3, £15,000
  • Level 4, £16,500
  • Level 5, £18,000
  • Level 6, £19,000
  • Level 7, £21,000

Salaries are at the employer’s discretion. During our application campaigns, employers state the salary for that particular job role.

d) Is there an apprenticeship fee for apprentices?

No – if eligibility requirements are met, the apprenticeship is fully funded by government. Therefore, you won’t need to take out a student loan or rack up a pile of debt. What’s even better is you get paid by the employer to do the apprenticeship! 

e) Do you have an apprenticeship in X?

Apprenticeships are a great way to match people with the skills–gap areas in the Northern Irish economy. These areas include software, computing, engineering, accounting, business, admin, marketing, warehousing, logistics and many more!

More courses are being developed each year – check out the Workplus website during our application campaigns for up–to–date information on specific apprenticeship opportunities.

 

Are these all the apprenticeships on offer?

During the Workplus application campaigns you can view the live job opportunities available that year.

More and more companies are choosing to hire apprentices. 60+ companies are choosing to hire their apprentices through Workplus. Check out these companies here (click on the employer logos for more information). 

f) What are the apprenticeship levels?

If you have (or are currently working towards) GCSE or equivalent qualifications, Level 2 or Level 3 apprenticeships are best–suited.

If you have (or are currently working towards) A–level or equivalent qualifications, Level 5 (Foundation degree) or Level 6 (Bachelor’s degree) apprenticeships are a good fit.

g) What is the balance between work and study?

While each training course has a different teaching pattern, apprentices typically spend 4 days a week at work and 1 day a week at the training provider (college, training organisation or university).

h) Why choose an apprenticeship over full–time university?

A Workplus apprentice, Emma, once told us: “I don’t feel like I’m missing out on going to university full–time, the experience means more at the end of the day”.

Full–time student life is hard – going to only a few hours of lectures each week, sleeping in, motivating yourself to go to the library, trying not to procrastinate and working a part–time job. It lacks structure and routine, and comes with many challenges. As an apprentice, you are motivated to learn while experiencing the workplace reality. You’re able to get up at the same time each day, have a good routine, make an impact at work, and then you’re ready to switch–off at the weekends. As another apprentice, Gina, said: “It’s set me up for life.”

i) Which training providers offer apprenticeships in Northern Ireland?

  • Belfast Metropolitan College
  • CAFRE
  • North West Regional College
  • Northern Regional College
  • Private Training Providers (e.g. 21 Training, People 1st)
  • Queen’s University
  • South Eastern Regional College
  • South West Regional College
  • Southern Regional College
  • Ulster University

j) What are the grades and entry requirements?

Usually it’s the training provider that sets the entry requirements – check their website for specific entry requirements and eligibility checks.

k) What are the age limits?

Currently, Level 4–7 apprenticeships are funded by the government for those over 18.

For 16–24 year–olds, the government fully funds Level 2–3 apprenticeships. For those over 25, there are some sectors that the government part–funds for Level 2–3 apprenticeships.

l) Can you apply for an apprenticeship and also to UCAS?

Yes – Workplus and UCAS are two different platforms.

It’s worth bearing in mind that apprenticeship employers are keen to see that applicants are passionate and interested in their particular apprenticeship – they want to make sure applicants are serious about it and are offering an apprenticeship to the right candidate.

 

Do you need to apply to apprenticeship courses through UCAS?

Applicants apply to most apprenticeship training courses (off–the–job learning) through the training provider’s own website (to the part–time or HLA course). Make sure that you apply to both the training provider and to the employer (on–the–job learning).

m) Are you eligible for an apprenticeship if you already have a degree?

You can enter HLA provision if it is at a higher level to your achieved qualification, or if it is in a subject unrelated to your qualification.

n) How do Workplus applications work?

When can I apply to Workplus?

Workplus opens applications twice a year. The main application campaign runs from mid–January to mid–February each year, and a much smaller application campaign opens for around one week near the end of August.

After the application deadline, if employers like your application, you may receive an invitation to interview or to an office open–day. If you’re successful, you will receive a job offer! Be sure to keep an eye on your emails and phone to ensure you get back to employers as soon as possible.

 

What does the Workplus application include?

There are three sections to the Workplus application:

  • My profile – this section is open throughout the year. It includes your qualifications or predicted grades, work experience, and five 150–word questions.
  • My apprenticeship application – this section unlocks during the application campaigns and is where you select the apprenticeships you want to apply to, as well as ranking employers.
  • Aptitude test – this is optional, but we recommend that you complete this. It only takes around 35 minutes and can be quite fun! It helps employers see more than just a written application form from applicants. Make sure to complete it before the deadline.


Any tips for my Workplus application?

  • Draft your answers on a Google Doc. Jot down all your thoughts and as you keep reading over them, condense your answers to be what’s most impressive!
  • Ask for help and advice – talk through your application with a parent, teacher, friend or Careers adviser. Someone who knows you well will be able to help you think through your top skills and achievements. You won’t want to miss anything!
  • Remember that employers are reading your application – they want to find talent. Show your passion and interest for the apprenticeship that you are applying to.
  • Check over your answers – read over your application yourself, and get someone else to read over your application. Look out for typos, spelling, punctuation and grammar.


Can I access extra support for my application?

If you have a disability or a long–term health condition, you can access support to help you with your application.

To have a conversation about the support you can receive, email LauraLoane@disabilityaction.org or MartyMcLoughlin@disabilityaction.org. Alternatively, you can speak to either by calling 028 9029 7880.

We advise that you do this as soon as possible – we recommend contacting Disability Action before 20th February 2023 to allow sufficient time for support before you submit your Workplus application (deadline to apply is 24th February).

Disability Action will aim to respond to your contact within two working days.

o) Are apprentices likely to secure a job at the end of their apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a full–time job. We’ve found that 95% of apprentices stick with the company they’re working in after their apprenticeship, and they’ve already had years of experience.

p) I have a question, who can I contact?

You can reach out to the Workplus team using the yellow chat–box function on the Workplus website.

q) Where can I find out more information?

During the Workplus application campaigns you can view the live job opportunities available that year.

In the meantime, check out our YouTube stories to hear from apprentices, employers and Workplus. As a Workplus apprentice, you join a network of apprentices – check it out here.

We also have a mailing list and if you would like to be kept up–to–date, sign–up here.

r) Does Workplus offer Careers talks?

Yes, we deliver presentations about Workplus apprenticeships to groups of 30+ students, usually Years 12–14. Contact us through the yellow chat–box on the Workplus website to arrange a careers talk at your school or college. We can also attend Careers fairs and speak at Parents’ Evenings.

s) What is Workplus?

Workplus was established in 2019 to help employers and apprentices connect. Since that time, we have grown a community of employers in construction, IT, finance, manufacturing and engineering and created a B2B2C marketplace which allows employers to indicate demand and aspiring apprentices to apply. Since 2019 we have helped 100 employers connect with 400+ apprentices.

 

Why should I hire an apprentice through Workplus?

Research shows 95% of apprentices stay with their employer after they complete their education compared to 55% of graduates.

Workplus Apprenticeships provide you with talent that can be moulded to fit your exact needs. They learn in real–life, absorb knowledge and quickly begin to shape your business. Workplus apprentices are part of the Workplus network of apprentices – we put on events during the year to help celebrate your apprentices and give them the opportunity to meet up with each other.


How can I hire an apprentice through Workplus?

Workplus has a fixed apprenticeship application campaign timeframe which makes it easier for you and aspiring apprentices to find each other. Think of Workplus like a floodlight, made up of individual lights from all the employers we work with – when we turn it on…

 

When can I hire an apprentice?

By joining Workplus, you can be a part of the two hiring campaigns (when applications are open for applicants) each year:

  • January – March
  • August – September (shorter, clearing–like campaign) 

t) Why apprentices?

What is an apprenticeship?

An apprenticeship is a job with training built–in. It’s the best way to develop new talent. Through on–the–job and off–the–job learning, an apprentice is considered a full–time employee and earns a good wage, whilst avoiding student debt (government pays their student fees).


Who can be an apprentice?

An apprentice can be anyone who has:

  • Reached compulsory school age; and
  • Is either looking to be up–skilled in their current place of work, or a new employee taking up a paid job offer.

 

What is the balance of on–the–job and off–the–job learning?

Typically, apprentices do their off–the–job training on ‘day release’ each week.

The Department for the Economy states: “The Apprentice must be contracted to work a minimum of 21 hours per week with one employer and will, under ‘day release’ undertake directed training which is paid as part of the apprentice’s contracted hours.”


Is my organisation eligible to hire an apprentice?

There are some guidelines for organisations who want to take on an apprentice(s):

  • The apprentice must be employed for over 50% of their time in NI and be completing their directed training in NI with an approved local Training Contractor.
  • If your organisation is in the Public sector, you should be eligible to employ an apprentice as long as the apprentice’s salary is not derived from public funds.

Watch these short clips from some of the employers we’re working with on our YouTube Channel.

u) Who pays what?

Government pays your apprentices student fees (if they are eligible). It is the employer’s responsibility to pay the apprentice wage. Apprentices are paid a full time salary to cover their on–the–job and off–the–job work. If an apprentice is 16–24, you avoid Class 1 National Insurance Contributions (which in 2022/23 is 15.05%).

 

How does the Apprenticeship Levy affect apprenticeships in NI?

In short…it doesn’t! All businesses across the UK with a payroll >£3m pay 0.5% of their total wage bill (minus an apprenticeship levy allowance of £15,000) as an Apprenticeship Levy. In England, employers are able to re–coup funds collected through the levy to pay the training provider for their apprentice’s training costs. In Northern Ireland, there is no direct correlation between the levy raised from employers and the funding allocation for apprenticeships. Government covers the apprentice training costs and pays the training provider directly. So, in summary, whether you pay the Levy or not, you are eligible to employ apprentices in NI and there is no link to the Levy amount you’ve paid to Government. 

v) How are apprentices trained?

How will my apprentice be educated?

Typically apprentices attend college or university one day per week but the Government covers the cost of the education. During the course of an apprenticeship, there will be work–based learning modules to be completed, including a project and reports. Employers will need to work closely with the college and university assessors to help the apprentice with this work, with mentors giving time and support to facilitate success. At the discretion of the employer, apprentices may be working towards a professional qualification. This will often require mentoring, so employers should ensure that they discuss with the relevant professional body.

 

Are there training plan requirements for apprentices?

The Training Provider, employer, and apprentice must agree, sign, and date a personal training plan in respect of the apprentice. Individual courses have specific training plan requirements too.

 

Workplace Mentor

All apprentices must be assigned a dedicated mentor by their employing company. Mentors need to be carefully chosen and have particular skills for dealing with apprentices, whose concerns may extend beyond those typically presented in the workplace by more experienced employees. They should be an experienced and trusted advisor to the apprentice. 

Feedback from existing apprenticeship schemes suggests that a mentor with a professional qualification (or close to qualifying) is advisable. They can assist the apprentice with demonstrating their academic and professional qualification abilities and experience.

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