Apprenticeships NI

What is an Apprenticeship?

An Apprenticeship is a work-based programme designed around the needs of employers. It offers recognised training and qualifications to new and existing employees, and those taking on new roles that require training and development. Apprenticeships are now open to all ages and can offer a great opportunity if you would like to re-enter the workforce or change career.

At People 1st we offer a wide range of Apprenticeships at Level 2 and Level 3, across Northern Ireland and we have a network of local offices to help Apprentices with in-person advice and support from our friendly and helpful team.

Why choose an Apprenticeship?

As an apprentice you will be a new or existing employee, in a Northern Ireland-based company, working with experienced staff to learn and develop your skills.

We will meet with you and your employer to discuss your training needs and will then develop a training programme for you. We will be with you every step of the way throughout your apprenticeship to support you and make sure you are making progress.

Usually you are with your employer four days a week and do your ‘off the job’ training one day a week. This will be to work towards your vocational qualification and essential skills if you need them. Your employer will pay you for your time spent with us.

All Age Apprenticeships

Autumn 2023 saw the launch by the Department of Economy of All Age Apprenticeships, enabling funding for the programme for employees, regardless of age or sector. We are delighted and fully support this change in age criteria, as it means that more career options are open to people of all ages, supporting inclusion and a culture of lifelong learning. The Department will fully fund the off-the-job training element of the apprenticeship, and as Moira Doherty, Head of Skills and Education at the Department explained: 

“All Age Apprenticeships increase the labour pool available to employers across the economy and in doing so, also increase opportunities for a greater range of people, as we start to realise our ambition outlined in the 10x Skills Strategy of a culture of lifelong learning. It also provides a powerful lever for inclusion as it gives opportunities for people to re-enter the workforce or change career who might have thought an apprenticeship was no longer an option. 

We also know that there are particular sectors with skills gaps, such as in health and social care, that we believe All Age Apprenticeships can provide a route for new entrants. I encourage employers to consider how apprenticeships can be central to developing their future talent pipeline, which is essential to long term growth. I also urge those thinking of a career change or re-engaging with the labour market to consider how an apprenticeship can open doors to a new career, and allow them to gain industry-relevant skills whilst earning a wage.”

More information on All Age Apprenticeships can be found on the NI Direct Website

People 1st are delighted to offer over twenty different apprenticeships routes, which are explained below and then you can also find contact details for the team member in-house who specialises in that area. You can also visit our qualifications page to find further information about the qualification levels we offer, and what each level contains here:

Apprenticeships are a popular way to learn as they are so practical and really help set you up for success.

Apprenticeships are specifically created to give you the practical skills, knowledge and competence that you need to progress in your career, and by completing an apprenticeship you are illustrating that you meet all the industry standards for your chosen occupation.

The ApprenticeshipsNI programme has recently changed its age criteria as of Autumn 2023, and is now fully funded for ALL ages, provided you meet the eligibility criteria, which are outlined in the ‘Eligibility’ tab and you can also find further information about this exciting announcement here on the Department for Economy website:

As an apprentice you will:

  • earn while you learn
  • get hands on experience working alongside skilled professionals
  • receive off the job training specific to your apprenticeship
  • get support to complete qualifications in English, Maths and IT if required
  • gain a nationally recognised NVQ qualification

Our In-House Specialists

We have 10 different specialists in house, one for each of our sector areas listed below. We hope that you will find all the introductory information that you need about the Apprenticeships NI programme on this page, but there may be more detailed questions that you will want answered about your chosen area and our apprenticeship specialist will be able to help. Please feel free to contact them by email or phone to find out the answers to any of these questions, as they are always happy to help and are very experienced. You can contact them directly on the numbers and emails listed below. They will also be happy to meet with you at your place of employment to talk over the programme with and your employer, in case they have any questions they would like to ask. We aim to make the process as hassle-free as possible and our team are here to support you, so please reach out! 

Why choose People 1st?

We are one of the largest private contract holders for the Apprenticeships programme across Northern Ireland and our team is highly experienced in delivering this programme. The Apprenticeships programme has been created to offer a high standard of training and only those selected providers awarded a contract can deliver Apprenticeship training.

We offer a variety of specialised training at our custom built facilities across the whole of Northern Ireland where you will get the best attention, from our team of talented tutors. We will meet with you and your employer to discuss your training needs and develop a training programme for you. Our team will support and mentor you through-out the duration of your apprenticeship, to ensure you are making great progress towards the important course milestones. It is a very enjoyable way to learn and we get great feedback from both employers and participants as they progress through the programme. By gaining your qualification through an Apprenticeship, it can open doorways to progress in your career and these qualifications can be globally recognised.


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Apprenticeships are offered on a continual rolling basis, so they can be started at any time throughout the year. Depending on the popularity of certain courses, there may be more options to join the ‘off-the-job’ training with People 1st at different times and days, or if it is a less in-demand course there may be set times when the classes are held. The specialist contact for your sector will be able to advise you on this.
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If you meet the eligibility criteria listed above, and are working a minimum of 21 hours per week with your employer, then your Apprenticeship costs will be fully funded by the Department for Economy. That means no student loans or tuition fees for an Apprenticeship, meaning you can learn and train without the student debt that comes with other study options. The funding covers all the tuition and study aspects of the course and the apprentice will need to cover the cost of their day to day expenses such as travel and lunch; however, most employers offer a competitive salary that meets minimum wage requirements to support this. 

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 If you are aged 16 to 18, or in the first year of the Apprenticeship, the apprentice is entitled to the apprentice rate. If the apprentice is 19 or over and has completed the first year of the apprenticeship, they are entitled to the National Minimum Wage. Current national wage rates can be found on the NI Direct website at This is the minimum an apprentice can earn; however employers may offer a higher salary and other benefits, so it’s best to check this with your employer. Your employer will also pay you for your time in training with People 1st.

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Assessment will be carried out on an ongoing basis throughout your apprenticeship and People 1st will support you with this.  We will make sure that you are achieving the required standard and that you are developing the knowledge, skills and expertise required for the job role. The People 1st Apprenticeships team will support you as you progress throughout your course.

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Our expert tutors will carry out the ‘off-the-job’ element of your training, and this will vary depending on your course.  This can take the format of online learning, classroom lessons, small group sessions, practical training (training with industry specialists in our training facilities) and learning support.  People 1st will also mentor your throughout this whole process and support you in every way possible so that you can complete your course. If you need to complete qualifications in Maths, English or ICT, then we will support you to do so by arranging classes, either via zoom or face to face. 

Hear from our Students

”My Level 2 Warehousing Apprenticeship in Frylite, Lisburn has been absolutely amazing. People 1st has been an excellent choice with lots of support, especially from Andrea and my tutor Ann.”

”I’m going from Level 2 in Plumbing to Level 3 soon. Class sizes are small- lots of 1 to 1 time means my knowledge has grown a lot and will help progress my career even further. Great facilities.”

“I did my Level 2 in hairdressing with People 1st and am now doing my Level 3. I love the fact there is a Student Support Officer in each branch, as they were always there to advise and support me”
“Thank you all for helping my daughter to believe in herself, and focus on her future. People 1st has been the best thing to have ever happened to her. Parents look it up to support your kids!”

Case Studies

Apprenticeship in ....
Apprenticeship in ....
Funded by
DFE Apprenticeships

Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020 and the Department for the Economy

European Social Fund

Northern Ireland European Social Fund Programme 2014 – 2020 and the Department for the Economy

Benefits include:

Earn as you learn

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Increase your earning potential

Get experience

Get NVQ Qualified

Regular classes

Specialist Tutors

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Help with Essential Skills

Approved centre for