Apprentices have ‘key role in economy’

Richard Kirk.
Richard Kirk.
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The importance of apprentice schemes for young people, businesses and Northern Ireland’s future economy will be the focus of a free event taking place in Belfast on Thursday (December 5).

‘The Future of Work and Education’ will be hosted by Workplus, an organisation that helps employers develop talent through apprenticeships, at Ormeau Baths.

Parents, teachers, business leaders and potential apprentices are being encouraged to come along to hear more about how apprenticeships have a key role to play.

The panel includes chair of Phoenix Gas, Peter Dixon, who will share his experience of leaving school at 16 without any professional qualifications, then working as an apprentice gas fitter, plumber and welder, and later rising through the management ranks.

Other panellists are Joanne Lennox, head of people and engagement at Farrans; Simon Hamilton, chief executive of Belfast Chamber of Trade and Commerce, and Heather Cousins, deputy secretary, Skills and Education Group in the Department for the economy, which has responsibility for apprenticeships and youth training programmes.

Richard Kirk, director of Workplus, explained: “NISRA statistics show that in 2024 Northern Ireland will have the lowest number of 21 years old in over half a century.

“What that means for the future of work and education is very interesting and we are finding that employers are looking to non-graduates to help support their business growth with many now developing talent through apprenticeships.”

Tickets for the free event which starts at 8.30am are available from Eventbrite.