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14 November 2016

FSB welcomes Northern Ireland Apprenticeship Levy Agreement

FSB has urged the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure that today’s announced funding deal for the upcoming apprenticeship levy is invested in growing skills and employment through small businesses.

The agreement also includes funding deals with the other devolved administrations in Wales and Scotland, and each will now need to decide how to allocate the money within their skills and training responsibilities.

Only 23% of SMEs in Northern Ireland have engaged in apprenticeship schemes, according to FSB/Ulster University Research published in 2015, so if the Executive is to meet its expectations on upskilling, these are the businesses they need to reach.  This research also highlights that small business is the largest employer in Northern Ireland, employing more than larger businesses and the public sector combined.

 Wilfred Mitchell, FSB Northern Ireland Policy Chair, said: “FSB urges the Executive to implement the Securing our Success:  NI Apprenticeship Strategy in full, with appropriate resource allocations to meet its commitment to provide financial incentives for small businesses.

“FSB welcomes today’s announcement that a funding deal has been agreed for the upcoming apprenticeship levy and reiterate our call to the Northern Ireland Executive to ensure the levy is used to enable smaller businesses to take on and train apprentices. 

Mr Mitchell concluded: “Apprenticeships are vital in delivering the economic goals of growth and increased employment within the Programme for Government, enabling the development of skills and expertise required to enable business survival and growth, which is central to creating long term, sustainable jobs”

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