Local apprentice gives his backing to Workplus

Pictured at the launch are Richard Kirk, Director of Workplus, Jim Wilkinson, Director of Apprenticeships, Careers and Vocational Education at the Department for the Economy; and Banbridge apprentice Kealan McCambridge
Pictured at the launch are Richard Kirk, Director of Workplus, Jim Wilkinson, Director of Apprenticeships, Careers and Vocational Education at the Department for the Economy; and Banbridge apprentice Kealan McCambridge

Workplus has announced that it has created 120 apprenticeship opportunities with 28 employers in Northern Ireland and applications are now open.

Banbridge apprentice Kealan McCambridge, 22, a former pupil of Newbridge Integrated College, is now a final year apprentice on a Level 5 Foundation degree programme in civil engineering with Farrans.

He believes the opportunity to gain qualifications with no fees while getting paid to work is something that all young people should consider.

Workplus, which helps employers develop talent through apprenticeships, estimates that almost £8m will be earned by the successful candidates over the period of their apprenticeships, some of which will last up to six years, with the possibility of permanent jobs. Those successful will take up positions at companies including Farrans, Translink, Atkins, Liberty IT, Jacobs and McAdam Design in the autumn to gain on the job training in career areas including engineering, construction, IT, administration and accountancy.

Workplus brings together employers, potential apprentices, colleges and universities to create apprenticeship opportunities and is supported by professional bodies.

Kealan said: “Through my apprenticeship with Farrans I currently spend four days a week on site at the exciting Craigavon South Lakes Leisure Centre building project and one day in classes at Belfast Metropolitan College. Learning on the job and from other professionals, earning money while getting qualifications and having no debt from university fees are all major benefits of taking this route.

“When I’ve finished my foundation degree this year, I’ll go on to do my BEng degree while continuing in my apprenticeship with Farrans. I think I’m on a much more secure career path than friends who have graduated from university but are struggling to find jobs related to their degrees and I’d encourage any young person to take a look at the opportunities Workplus is offering.”

Richard Kirk, Director of Workplus, explained: “Many of the young people who are applying for Workplus Apprenticeships are telling us that full time study along with the debt and career uncertainty at the end is not the right route for them. Our apprentices get real jobs, good pay with a starting salary between £13,500 to £19,000 depending on entry level, as well as access to training and professional networks that will transform their lives.

”Over the duration of their apprenticeships we estimate that this year’s intake will earn almost £8m in salaries, while avoiding around £750,000 of student debt from course fees which is good news for them, their parents and the wider economy. With a Workplus Apprenticeship, employers get bright, focussed and ambitious people who ensure their companies have the skillset needed to remain competitive. We believe that apprenticeships are the future of work and education.”

Apprentices generally work four days a week and spend one day studying at further education colleges and universities. Apprenticeships are available for applicants of all ages.

Jim Wilkinson, Director of Apprenticeships, Careers and Vocational Education at the Department for the Economy, added: “The Department is pleased to see 120 apprentice positions being made available, this year, in areas of economic significance. The Apprenticeship Programme enables apprentices to earn as they learn from the age of 16, gaining invaluable industry experience and provides a direct progression pathway to higher levels of professional and technical work.”

Applications for this year’s Workplus scheme are open until February 28 at www.workplus.app